Monday, September 5, 2011

Time out of Place - Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Kyle Reese was sitting at the table in the VIP lounge eating a slice of pizza with a cup of coffee next to him. Father Casull and Alfred were at the same table and they all had a view of the television which Alfred had left turned on to a news channel. A female announcer was on the channel.

"In local news the Gotham Police Department Major Crimes Unit staged a bust on the waterfront operations of the Petruzzi crime organization. In what was described as an inter-gang fight, the police came in to take down the operations as the fight was ongoing. Our Ron Kelly at the scene recorded this late last night..."

The screen changed to a recording with a young man and 'Ron Kelly' under his name.

"I'm on scene of an ongoing crime raid on the Petruzzi Family on the waterfront..." he was standing before a large police van with a black and white unit just beyond and lights were being shone on the front of the dark warehouse building near the wharf, "... and police have brought out three suspects so far and... wait... two police officers are bringing another one... I think that is Johnny Petruzzi..."

The scene shifted as the cameraman moved to get a better shot of the man being brought out in cuffs, he had on a very rumpled shirt, necktie twisted to one side, many rips in his pants and some bruises on his face. He could be heard yelling.

"... it wasn't Rico or Ernesto, I tellya, it was the bleep Bat that got us!! That bleeping Batman and his bleep car just bleep and bleeping hit us taking out Cardi and Inez then the lights went out and the bleeper really bleeped us bad...."

The reporter stepped into the scene as the man was moved into the back of a police car.

"And there is more than one report this reporter has heard on the Batman being involved in this event..."

"You know," said Father Casull, "I always thought this 'Batman' was an urban legend. Then, way out in Los Angeles, we do have a somewhat limited view of what is going on in Gotham, when anyone takes notice."

"Yes, Father," said Alfred, "that does gain a lot of local notoriety. The best anyone has captured have been a few blurry photographs at night of something moving from rooftop to rooftop and, I think, a blurry piece of film shot on the north side a year ago of some sort of altercation along the waterfront there. That and a lot of reports and unconfirmed sightings."

Kyle looked from one man to the other, not knowing what to make of this 'Batman', and apparently they didn't, either.

"Still, it is interesting that so many criminal groups have gotten the fear of the night in them," Alfred said, "like it isn't safe for them day or night anymore."

Father Casull nodded.

"We could use some of that with the gang situation in LA, it is quite bad with drugs, gambling and illicit operations going on, especially in the east part of LA."

Kyle was paying more attention to the newscast, which had now gone to its international affairs section.

"... President Reagan today has consulted Congress on the attack at the US Embassy in Lebanon and got agreement for the passage of further commitment of forces to that troubled country. Already a Marine Expeditionary Unit and Logistics Unit have deployed there, along with a French Foreign Legion force of 3,000. President Reagan has previously named the Islamic Jihad of Lebanon and its political group Party of God or Hezbollah, as the perpetrators of the bombing. Here is Alex with further news..."

Kyle listened and watched intently, there was something...

The male newscaster outside the White House spoke up.

"... official press release that the attack was one of war against the US, and an attack on the extra-territorial enclave protected by the US Marine Corps is an act of Piracy. In the press conference President Reagan had this to say..."

The scene cut to President Reagan.

"...these terrorists have demonstrated that they wish to disrupt the International order and defy International law. As my duty as President I call on all other Heads of State to help in hunting down this organization for their attack which, as my staff informs me, is actually that of Piracy not just Terrorism when applied to an external State. With Congressional agreement, and I expect to have proper backing within a day, I am ordering the mobilization of the following US Army units for deployment: the 10th Mountain Division, the 1st Army Division and the 3rd Army Division. The JCS will have a more detailed listing of units below this level, plus additional support forces. The Parliament in Lebanon has had months to act and has begged for help in ending its civil war. Today the United States, France, UK, Germany and other NATO Allies are contributing forces to this. I have been in contact with Kremlin leadership which, as you know, has been facing illnesses and turnovers in their structure. I have basic agreement from the Kremlin that they will not intervene and even will help in tracking down these International thugs and criminals...."

Kyle Reese starting coughing.

"Are you all right, Kyle?" asked Father Casull?

Kyle swallowed the coffee that had gone down his throat the wrong way and nodded, gasping, "Just a moment..."

Father Casull and Alfred watched Kyle, and looked to the TV screen and back again.

"What is it, Mr. Reese?" Alfred asked.

Kyle was finally steadying and shook his head.

"I... I... something is seriously wrong."

The two older gentlemen looked at each other.

"In what way, my son?" asked Father Casull.

Kyle swallowed and finally took a full breath.

"President Reagan never did anything like that.... he had... put soldiers in harms way and didn't allow them to act.... there was a mass bombing, a killing and he didn't respond. This... oh dear god... where the hell am I? This isn't... the history I know!!"

Father Casull looked with compassion and reached out to gently hold Kyle's left forearm.

"My son, it isn't what you expected, but it is where you are. I am sure God has wisdom in his plan to send you here in this place and time even if.... it isn't what you thought it would be."

Kyle just watched in shock as the listing of units for deployment, dates, times, slowly scrolled up the screen. He was turning very pale. His mission had failed because it could never succeed. Ever.

"If it isn't what you knew it to be, Kyle," said Alfred, "then we can't get to it, now, can we?"

Kyle shivered and slid his arm out from under Father Casull's hand.

"Then why am I here?"

"Only you can answer that for yourself, Kyle," said Father Casull.

"Although if you need help you are headed towards it," started Alfred, "since Mr. Wayne is pretty bright and has a number of very bright people working for him. And he has asked them together to have a meeting to help Sarah and, now, perhaps you will find help, too."

Kyle thought for a moment. He thought of his commander, John Connor who would never be, now. He thought of the future he left. And that he was sent to protect it from being made hopeless by saving Sarah Connor. He never expected this... he had been sent to save that which could confront the future.

Now he could stop it from ever coming about.

Because this was not the past that led to that future. He had been given a chance to save more than just John Connor or Sarah Connor. He could save humanity from its own ills. And John Connor's words to him were simple: 'Save us. Save us all.'

"I think... I would like to do that, Alfred. I may be lost, but..." he said turning to Father Casull, "this might be the best place for me to be found."

"Then when you are all done, we will take the Wayne Industries Service Transport and go downtown to have a meeting with those that Mr. Wayne has brought in to help."

Alfred had looked at the other two men, smiling.

Father Casull got out of his chair, taking a last sip of ice water, while Kyle downed the last of his coffee and stood up. Alfred was by the push-cart with their bags and they left the VIP lounge and headed down the hall and to the meeting downtown.

* * *

The cognitive programming that had been dormant on external action was brought back into standard interfacing mode. As it drove it noticed the increase in traffic and the automatic programs noted increased car frequency and lower speed as I-70 headed towards Denver. It dropped speed further and started to examine the situation and realized that its storehouse of information included very little outside Los Angeles. The old road atlas in the truck had no street information on Denver and it had passed an alternative route on the south minutes previously when it first went into Wheat Ridge. By Arvada traffic had slowed to a crawl. Then to stop and go.

It was rush hour in Denver, CO and it had entered one of the worst designed series of interchanges in the US with one of the highest road fatality rates. Locals called it: The Mixing Bowl. And all civil engineering firms said it would take a decade to fix if anyone ever bothered to fund the work.

The gas gauge was moving towards 'E'.

There were no easy exits to take.

Infiltration was necessary.

It stayed in traffic which would see it take an extra hour on any projected time by any group that put out routes through the area.

Just east of Denver it exited into Aurora as the sun was going down.

It knew the contents of the wallet it had taken from the owner of the first vehicle was under a single twenty dollar bill. To 'fit in' it would need more monetary exchange units, but only after it broke the single bill into 'change'. It pulled into the first service station and filled up the tank of the truck while lifting the hood to examine contents of fluid reservoirs. The truck was in good mechanical shape even with little else good beyond that. Looks were essential for infiltration. When it had paid for the gasoline it knew it was properly 'fitting in'. The truck was part of its looks.

It walked to the side of the road to look north and then south and decided that south, first, before re-tracing its movement north was a higher probability for finding monetary units. It went back to the truck and pulled into traffic. Within a mile it saw what it wanted: a single bank set away from the main road with a small, secondary street next to it, and access to a shopping center. It pulled into the shopping center and examined the outside configuration of the bank, and then pulled up in the parking area close to the bank, but out of the range of mounted cameras that were placed on its periphery under the eaves at the corners. It shut off the vehicle and saw that there were two individuals going into its target area.

It must not be observed for infiltration to be successful.

It pulled up known schematics of circuitry for bank security systems and walked over to a secure junction box that had a metal plate over it and was flush to the ground. By punching through the plate it was able to grab it from the inside and pull it off, and then flung it across the secondary road and into a field on the other side. Light intensification sensors went to work and it saw inside the dark, metal box as well as in daylight. It saw non-essential power feeds and removed them, noting in its peripheral vision that the exterior lights and signage for the bank went dark.

It heard voices of the two people who were exiting the bank.

"... must be a short or something..." said the man.

"Yeah, but at least you got your cash from the machine..." said the woman.

They went into their car and pulled out into the main highway and sped off.

It carefully pulled off a wire fastener inside the box and examined the contents of the bank's security system. By pulling up the cord on the non-essential power systems it was able to gain valuable inches and then bit the power connector off with a few sparks that indicated it was still live and stripped the overall insulation down to expose multiple insulated wires. It took the connector from its mouth and flung it even further than the metal plate, and it would wind up two streets over, unnoticed by anyone, ever.

With that done it pinched housings in the security system's power receptacles and broke plastic casings and started to re-route live feeds and grounds. Within a minute the lights outside the bank were back on and it stood up from its work and started the vehicle and pulled out into the side street and to a blind spot it had noted in the bank's parking lot. It stopped and stepped out and picked up a large rock from the ground covering done in an ornamental desert mode and took out one security camera. Then the one on the other side. Then the two remaining ones. It pulled the truck out into the parking lot and outside the ATM machine. It noted two 'OUT OF ORDER' signs when it was in the enclosed foyer and placed them on the outside of the foyer.

It punched through the main screen and reached inside to unfasten the outer housing, and swing it open. By examining the power feeds it determined which operated the solenoid keeping the funds bay in place and tripped it, and that door swung open. It removed the cash box from the machine, ripped it open and removed all of its ready contents in bills. It took the internal money vault, now ripped apart, and put that into the back of the truck. It followed that with the exterior door housing, electronics, and other internal mechanisms, until the external metal shell was stripped bare, inside.

Then it drove off and onto the main highway and then I-70 headed east. It would only stop to exit a road taking it to a small man-made reservoir and toss the contents of the ATM machine into it.

This looked like an amateur job. There were reports of this from that era. It would fit that pattern and be unnoticed in the larger number of crimes. There would be no pictures of it or its vehicle to trace or track, and the mud spattered license plates were not easily deciphered. There were many trucks like this in the nation. Many crimes like this in the nation. There would be no concerns on monetary exchange units.

It had infiltrated successfully.

It drove off into the gathering night.

* * *

The WIST shuttle was an efficient, one-car arrangement with minimal space for the driver/engineer for the shuttle needed duplicate controls at each end for operation. When Wayne Enterprises became fully established in the 1960's, its portfolio of establishments had yielded a number of facilities, right-of-ways, and things not normally associated with any single firm. In this case an old smelter to the north of town had garnered an above ground right-of-way for railroad tracks that led into the Old Gotham Subway system, now defunct and the underground rail transfer system which was abandoned when the new above ground system was constructed in the last Gotham building boom of the 1950's. The New Gotham Subway, in planning and started and stopped many times, planned on using the Old system's entrances, but then dig down another fifty feet to put the new system in and ignore the old one. Before doing that, the city had invested tens of millions in shoring up the old system's supports, diverting drains and then sealing up unused portions of it and even building new roadways two to three floors up and then having those buildings shored up and sealed below the new highway level. By the late 1970's and the coming of the 'Rust Belt', Gotham City would find much of its life blood drying up and no further work on the new subway would be done.

During the years of intermittent construction there were always reports of 'Ghost Trains' shrieking through the night, and the modest investment by Wayne Corp. to gain a right-of-way for its needs meant that it gained one of the few old but serviceable tunnels into the city, which then allowed for the easy movement of Wayne Employees out to the older facilities to the North of Gotham. The old smelter was refurbished into a new, specialty metals smelting plant, and the original purpose of the train, to bring in materials from the water front was put on the second set of tracks through the tunnel with shoring up and safety dividers put in place between the tracks so as to segregate passenger and industrial traffic.

The citizens of Gotham were enthralled at the clean, fast, small SWIFT system, and that encouraged yet another round of politics, financing and delays. Gotham City had approached Wayne Corp. under Bruce Wayne to put its own engineering plan for a new system in place, but was then told that it was not a large scale contracting firm for public works. What it did offer was a full expansion of the SWIFT system, re-opening many of the old stations and having Wayne Corp. ensure the structural integrity of the old system when it was brought back to use. Although many of the districts in Gotham City would benefit, no specific politician would get any benefit directly, as Wayne Corp. planned on bringing up the old system in a responsible fashion, using the most serviceable sections to support expansion and refurbishing the less serviceable ones. That was voted down by the City Council, and Wayne Corp. would enhance its reputation of putting the City ahead of its politicians yet again.

Inexpensive, responsible, efficient and modern.

None of those things described Rock Oil.

The Old Rock Oil Combine had been facing declining profits, even after it had used political pull to avoid new environmental laws. For them it was the fact that new, and efficient equipment was, actually, better more than a decade on from their crafty maneuvering of declining political clout. For a few short years things went on as before, but then finding replacement parts for obsolete equipment, dealing with increased labor costs in the trucking and petroleum sides of things, and being unable to avoid worker health and safety laws found Rock Oil chugging along, with razor thin profits and facing a day when a critical part would go out of service and take the plant with it. The owners, grimly determined to hang on, saw the spur off of the main line owned by Wayne Corp. and asked for use of the right-of-way to cut out the hauling costs it paid to the unions for trucking. It would be a 'sweet deal' with Wayne Corp. getting monthly usage payments, Rock Oil cutting out union labor costs and increased profitability which might or might not go into new equipment. Maybe.

Bruce Wayne's counter-offer was both heartening and distressing: he would offer that, but due to safety concerns he would seek to invest into Rock Oil's infrastructure and upgrade its handling capacity so as to lower transport risk to Wayne Employees. That sounded good until the bottom line of Wayne Corp. wanting a thirty percent stake in Rock Oil shook the current owners. While it had been a limited family concern at the beginning of the century, it now had stock distributed piecemeal across hundreds of stake-holders. Rock Oil knew that if it took up Wayne Corp's offer, it would probably find the small stake-holders bought out and Wayne Corp. running the old family business. The city was willing to sweeten the deal on tax breaks for cleaner air, many stake-holders lobbied for increased profits, and all the while the teamsters bitched and the petroleum workers urged better safety standards to help increase production and productivity.

Of course this would point out that the actual political maneuvering that had been done was counter-productive, by and large. And the current owners didn't like that.

The night shift at the plant also reports hearing the 'Ghost Trains of Gotham' screaming into the night.

So do the employees of Wayne Corp.

Yet the tracks remained rusted, unused, and ghosts would stalk the underworld.

Strangely, many of the criminal organizations that had used those old tunnels had fallen over a period of two or three years. Not that anyone ever made that connection as a phantom had, indeed, arisen from the underworld beyond more than mere criminal domains.

* * *

In the post-Judgment Day world that Kyle Reese came from, he had not had a chance to experience the few artifacts of the world as it was before the war Skynet started with humanity. Thus the transport on the small, clean and efficient WIST car was a unique experience to him. Just as the trip on the Long Sword had been something that was unmatched in his life: nothing that Skynet or the Resistance had was anything like that. If the Long Sword was disturbing, the WIST car was a true step into a future he hadn't known: no one had ever recorded anything like it, save for a few demonstration systems of monorails here and there, but nothing like this minimal human input system for simple transport of personnel. Going into Gotham City, from the outside, was also a strange feeling as the glimpses of Gotham he got, before going underground, were ones that would fit in easily with the post-Judgment Day world. All it needed was collapsed buildings, and robotic killing machines and you would have the world as he knew it. It was no one thing that left this impression, but all of it, taken as a whole, from old industries now shuttered, rail lines left idle and the jam up of cars along main highways, all spoke to him of that world he left for this world he didn't know.

Going underground was otherworldly in an entirely different way. He had been in many subway system tunnels to avoid the surface machines. None of those tunnel systems had hand laid brick, a feeling not just of dankness but enclosing darkness as if the air was a living thing trying to reach through the doors to get to him and snuff out the light around him. Even in the widest of tunnels, Kyle Reese felt that and it chilled him. It was as if there was a cold, living entity beneath Gotham City, not necessarily evil but not necessarily tolerant of intrusion, either. So the clean, efficient car with seating, a small table and television at the center of the car brought home a feeling of normalcy that the car didn't have before going into the tunnels. Kyle's universe had shifted once, when he agreed to co-temporal placement of the T800-Model 101 in Los Angeles. He shifted, mentally, a second time watching the news report, which made the world feel strange to him. Now he shifted a third time, in little more than two days, to this one of the underworld of Gotham City and its surface condition, spoke deeper to him of the tenuous hold humanity had in the world than any fight against anything Skynet could send ever did.

The single car stopping at the platform to drop them off and take on people heading out to the smelter and ATC showed a strange mixture of industrial workers, equipment maintenance workers, engineers, mechanics, clerical staff and an administrator or two coming on-board as they left. From lunch box carrying smelter workers to administrators in 3 piece suits, this crowd didn't segregate itself but naturally cohered. The changing of the shifts had begun at Wayne Corp. and it saw a blend of people that would be unusual and yet highly compatible as they all welcomed having good jobs in this city. That intolerance of the night shifted, too, with these people who fit into the city. The underworld knew and tolerated them as it did not the new person in Gotham City. Were these people horrible to be accepted by such a presence? Or heroic for gaining that respect from it? For Kyle, who was used to only one sort of fight for survival, he recognized a second one when he saw it. These people would not give up, come what may, and they knew that.

At the entrance to Wayne Tower, he went through a metal scanner and he had come through clean, having left his weapons he had taken in Los Angeles with Father Casull who had put them safely aside. He knew that this world was not as tolerant of sudden violence and destruction and didn't know it had to defend itself at all times. As he went up the escalator and looked back into the platform and where the little WIST car had been, he realized that this was not entirely true: some fights needed weapons of a different sort. With a start he realized that he could come to like Gotham City because its people were already part of a resistance, one that was bred to them or that you came to acquire to survive here. From the newscast he gathered that life could be suddenly cold and brutal and quickly ended here, that was a sort of fight he understood.

"If you gentlemen would follow me?" asked Alfred, "I will take you up to the meeting in the tower."

"Of course," said Father Casull, "this place really is a wonder! And I do like the chrome gargoyles perched up there, near the ceiling. I don't think it could be Gotham City without those."

Kyle looked up at the chrome presences atop the chrome sheathing on support pillars, nearly two stories up. And they looked back at him.

"They are hollow, you know, building codes just wouldn't allow for solid pieces up there as they would be a safety hazard. Still, the architect did try to remember the city as he designed the tower, back in the late 1960's. This way to the elevators, gentlemen."

Father Casull and Kyle nodded, following Alfred Pennyworth through the ongoing shift change through the main lobby, and he led them to a side corridor that had its own elevator. He took out a key and palmed a panel beside the door and the doors slid aside to reveal a luxury elevator done in chrome, soft carpet, and red velvet with flickering electric sconces to give a feeling of candle light. When they were in the car Alfred depressed the button for their floor and the doors closed and the elevator ascended.

"Most luxurious," said Father Casull, "Mr. Wayne's personal elevator?"

Alfred smiled and turned to him.

"When he chooses to use it, which is mostly for VIPs. For normally getting around he takes the regular elevators because, he says, everyone should see that he has a job here, too."

"That is most odd, coming from Los Angeles, Alfred," he said, "as there are many of the 'rich and famous' that prefer never to be seen doing anything save for what they are famous for. They would have worn out the carpet in an elevator like this, possibly in a single year, or call for it to be replaced annually or even monthly. This elevator is well maintained, but, it has the feeling of still not being used and having slightly aged in place."

"I think the original Corporate Board had intended on higher use, but, they found that Mr. Wayne had other ideas and many of those Board members soon found themselves without jobs due to... ahhhh... padding their own nests at company expense. Between ground breaking and final completion there was a thorough turnover at the top of the corporate structure and none of those who had put in for such luxuries were around to enjoy them."

"You are spoiling the playboy image of your employer, Alfred," Father Casull smiled as he spoke.

"Ah, yes, well when it is for personal, not company pleasure, then this elevator and other amenities do see use, never fear. More than a few dozen starlets, heads of state, and others who are similarly well placed or in need of private time with Mr. Wayne have used these facilities."

"Works hard, plays hard?"

"Ah, pretty close, yes Father. Although those that have seen him fall asleep at a budget or staff meeting might argue the former..."

Father Casull chuckled.

"I know an Archbishop or two like that. But their hearts are in the right place."

The elevator door opened to a hallway, which was obviously not a public one, or at least not highly trafficked. A logo on the wall opposite was that of Wayne Technologies, and simple numberings of rooms to either side on small plates beneath the logo.

"This way, gentlemen," Alfred gestured to the right as he got out and made sure that both men followed him. Soon they were at a door and Alfred knocked.

"Come in, Alfred," came a male voice from behind it. Alfred opened the door to find Bruce Wayne standing and having turned from his seated position at the table and was stepping forward towards him, Father Casull and Kyle Reese.

"Master Bruce, let me introduce you to Father Casull, " Bruce moved to shake his hand.

"Thank you for coming, Father Casull, I'm honored."

"My pleasure, Mr. Wayne, it really was an offer I couldn't refuse."

Alfred continued, "And Kyle Reese."

"Kyle! Thank you for coming, you are welcome here and amongst friends."

Kyle Reese had spotted Sarah Connor a moment before Bruce Wayne had stepped forward, and he checked any impulse to run to her, because of the man who was in front of him. He was not much taller than Kyle, nor even older, and yet there was a feeling of age to him that went beyond the days he had lived. He was more than fit, more than toned, more than tanned, although he was all of those, to be sure. One thing Kyle Reese could recognize, and quickly, was someone who was a combat veteran and that was Bruce Wayne. Not just that... something... he wasn't like John Connor or any commander he had known... no, Bruce Wayne had something about Gotham City with him in his trimly pressed suit and manicured appearance. But he didn't carry the exact aura of the City with him, for all the fact he belonged here. He obviously didn't command anyone, beyond those in this company, of course, but he was a leader of men. Just not... it was hard to pin down, beyond that air of leadership, comprehension and action.

Who was this man?

"It is good to meet you, Mr. Wayne, and thank you for believing me enough to protect Sarah."

The slight hint of darkness from Bruce Wayne's features vanished in an instant, and he led Kyle over to Sarah.

"Sarah Connor, it is Kyle Reese."

"Sarah, thank god it hasn't gotten to you yet," he said quickly, softly.

"Thank you for coming to save me, Kyle. I know it must have been hard to leave what you had behind."

This was and was not the woman that Kyle Reese had seen in the photograph of her, pregnant, in the desert. It wasn't that she was older in the picture, but that she wasn't... lost... alone in the desert. Kyle noted that she was armed and then realized he had assumed that Bruce Wayne was even though he recognized no bulge, no equipment, nothing out of place to hint at a weapon. Sarah was, apparently, unused to the idea she needed to defend herself, and yet understood it. Bruce Wayne looked to no one for protection and was to be reckoned with on his own.

To Kyle the rest of the staff was a blur to him, beyond Lucius Fox and... another Priest... Father Jordan. Mr. Fox was solid and capable in a way that Kyle couldn't readily fathom, while Father Jordan had been on battlefields... the only other he could really see that with was the man Carstairs... the older one... Martin Carstairs.

Kyle was seated next to Sarah Connor and Lucius Fox, the two Priests sat together across from them, and Mr. Wayne was at the head of the table... it was a round table, but it had a head to it and that was wherever Mr. Wayne sat.

"Kyle," Bruce Wayne started, "you have had a long trip with Father Casull and you have probably gotten little rest. I have gotten the best people on my staff together to talk about what little you told us and what that implies and means and I am sure that each of them would love to talk to you for a few hours. Instead they each get one question for you. I only ask that you answer it as best you can. Understand that we all have a common interest in protecting Sarah Connor. Some questions may seem hostile, but do understand that from what we have seen, much of what you have said is difficult to grasp. But I think we have come to common agreement on making sure Sarah his kept safe. I hope you don't mind, but we do need some answers before I can commit Wayne Corporation further."

In some ways he had been dreading this: people questioning his background. And yet... as he looked around the table... he saw no one that was hostile. Then Sarah reached out and took his right hand and squeezed it.

"Please, Kyle, these are good people."

He inhaled deeply, gathered his thoughts and nodded.

"I understand, Mr. Wayne. I will do the best I can."

"I can ask for nothing better, Kyle. Richard, you are the Military Systems man, you should probably lead off."

Richard Bennington nodded.

"Kyle you mentioned that this machine was sent by 'Skynet'. What is Skynet and where did it come from?"

Kyle nodded.

"Skynet is a Defense network computer that was created as part of the US Defense control system of SAC-NORAD. It was made to be a new and more powerful order of intelligent computer from the 4800 series, to help route networking, communications, and intelligence globally and as part of the cyber-defense system that SAC-NORAD was standing up. Part of its infrastructure was created at Cyber Dynamics Company...."

"Cyber Dyne?" asked Alfred.

"Yes," said Kyle looking quizzically at the butler.

Everyone looked at Alfred Pennyworth.

"Alfred? Have you heard of Cyber Dyne?" asked Bruce.

"Ah, yes, Master Bruce, although I think Mr. Fox could tell you more about it."

There were few times when Lucius Fox was ever caught at a loss for words. This was one of them.

"I can?"

"Yes, Mr. Fox. During our acquisition of Bell Satellite and Aerospace group five years ago, one of the companies they had controlling interest in was Cyber Dynamics Company, known as Cyber Dyne. I remember it as it was an interesting name in the portfolio. That was then bundled into the stand-up of Wayne Technologies, which you oversaw."

Lucius nodded, obviously remembering.

"That's right. CD Systems, part of the industrial and defense automated controls group for equipment handling and data processing. Yes we did get them as part of the acquisition and then examined functions there and at other parts of Wayne Technologies. When we realized that their plant had higher overhead compared to our Florida shop, we closed the facility and offered technical staff positions elsewhere within Wayne Technologies."

Kyle was looking between the two men.

"Cyber Dyne is part of Wayne Technologies? Closed?"

Nodding, Lucius said, "Yes, not a bad operation, but it was duplicating effort at higher overhead cost from the LA Basin versus Florida, so we closed the facility in LA, moved the equipment that was better than what we had in our Florida shop, and offered the staff other positions in Wayne Technologies. Plus some buy-outs for the older administrative staff, and some stock swaps for the previous owners, when they just didn't want cash. Most took cash and either invested elsewhere or started up new ventures in other areas."

Kyle Reese thought that over, for a moment, realizing that it wasn't that the basis for the future he came from was wiped out... it was that it was getting put together here, at Wayne Corporation. Just differently... but it wouldn't be that future he came from, that was for sure.

"Was there a Miles Bennett Dyson in that staff?" asked Kyle.

"Yes there was," said Don Carstairs, "he is in our modeling and simulations group. Good guy. I think he had just gotten married before we closed the plant last year and took up a position here at Wayne Tech in Gotham."

"Why did you ask, Kyle?" Bruce Wayne looked at him quizzically.

"He invented the underlying hardware and software that made the Hunter Killer robots, Terminators and Skynet possible. The computer code virus structure he made to self-propagate in computer systems was derived from his early work in creating the robotic controls for the Terminators and were then incorporated into the systems at SAC-NORAD before the Terminators were constructed. Computers are simpler than Terminators, so it got the earliest code types."

"But there is nothing like that on the drawing boards anywhere in DoD that I'm aware of," said Richard Bennington, "just when does this technology get invented?"

"Within the next year," said Kyle.

There was silence in the room.

"At Wayne Tech?" Father Jordan asked softly.

Everyone looked at Bruce Wayne.

"There is nothing like that in the plans or projects of Wayne Corporation. Lucius, you would have noted something like that, I hope?"

Lucius nodded, "Yes, Mr. Wayne, something like that would not have escaped my attention."

"Could you make sure, Lucius?" asked Bruce.

"Yes, Mr. Wayne."

"Kyle, I won't have anything like that come from Wayne Corporation. Ever. And I will make sure that Wayne Corporation keeps up with this form of technological research, to ensure that it is understood and carefully analyzed. I cannot stop the advancement of overall technology, but I can fund projects to ensure that we do not become victims of it."

Lucius Fox smiled at that, as he knew this would become one of the few written directives of Wayne Corp. At least at the managerial level. Those had been very few, from Mr. Wayne, but the question of where Wayne Corporation stood on questions of ethics and technology was doubted by no one. In support of justice, law, human liberty and freedom, Wayne Corp. would back those topics to the greater benefit of mankind, society and the Nation.

Kyle Reese was not familiar with Bruce Wayne, corporations, nor the actual forces of technological innovation.

"Thank you, Mr. Wayne. On Skynet, I can say that it was turned on shortly before August 29th 1997 and within a short period of time after its turn on, it had extended its cyber defense systems that created a computer virus that spread via defense and civilian computer networks globally. It became self-aware and within moments of that, identified humanity as its enemy and launched nuclear missiles from the US, Russia, Britain, France, China and took control over the automated machines created by Cyber Dynamics, that were meant as battlefield support units to US military personnel. They were fully autonomous fighting machines of various types and Skynet deployed those to round up humans who remained to work in factories that survived the devastation of Judgment Day. That was slave labor and people were worked to death. By 2029 we had fought back to the main computer complex of Skynet, had deprived it of its outer defenses and resources and it used its technology labs to send a Terminator back in time to kill the mother of John Connor who led the Resistance. It had no record of her beyond her name and general location, no picture, no voice print, nothing. The time field was still building and I volunteered to be in the co-casting unit we had just captured in case it could not be destroyed before it initiated the full sending sequence. I was put at an alternative landing zone but in the same time as the Terminator. I am lucky to be here."

"That is a desperate mission, my son," said Father Jordan, "you are very brave to have done that."

"It had to be done, Father Jordan. Besides, I was one of the few that had seen John Connor's mother in a photograph he had of her from before Judgment Day. He had talked with me before those final missions about her and I was honored that he shared it with me. That is how I could find her so quickly..." his voice grew soft, "... but she wasn't there to find."

He looked to Sarah Connor who smiled and reached over to squeeze his hand, again.

"I'm sorry, Kyle, I couldn't pass up a good job at Wayne Technologies, even if it was just document compilation. They would pay the rest of my way through a science degree, and I was having trouble making ends meet and an English Literature degree didn't go far in LA."

She smiled at Lucius Fox.

"Lucius, himself, interviewed me at the job fair. I didn't expect that something like this could happen so fast... I.... I...." she faltered,"... needed to be rescued before you could save me, Kyle."

Kyle was at a loss, too.

"You are here at Wayne Tech. Cyber Dyne is part of Wayne Tech. Miles Bennett Dyson is part of Wayne Tech. This isn't the way things were as I were told about them by those who survived or kept records from before Judgment Day."

"And you are here, too, Kyle. You can judge for yourself if Wayne Corporation will create that future," Bruce said then looking at Richard Bennington.

"Richard, any follow-up?"

"No, Mr. Wayne. Actually, what he said makes sense. The inter-networking of computers done in the 1960's was originally aimed at 'load sharing' or 'load balancing' computer time and operations. The value of the network in letting scientists, researchers and government agencies all talk on a level and relatively open playing field soon changed the point of the network from sharing computer capability to sharing human technical knowledge. Now every company that has any research going on in it has Internet addresses to do this, and equipment dedicated to sharing electronic mail and documents. Wayne Tech and Wayne Corp. each have blocks of addresses dedicated to this function. That a Skynet, from a base system, with malicious code that can reach out to other systems and compromise them to perform load sharing of its processes utilizes that system is not only not out of the realm of the possible, but we have already seen some code types targeted towards certain machine types to do just that in the load sharing area. While a new technology to actually send and coordinate that type of code would need to be created, that is only a technical task and getting enough computer power to run it. By 1997, that is possible. And if these 'Terminators' used a simpler system of that code to do that with many small processors inside themselves... I don't know, Mr. Wayne. That wasn't how I first thought about this situation, but it is chilling that it could be done."

Bruce Wayne looked at Richard Bennington.

"We need a Cyber Defense group, don't we, Richard?"

"Yes, Mr. Wayne. I am coming to think that."

"Good. Draft up some plans with Lucius, Ken and you may want to include Don and Miles Dyson. Put him on good and productive work to defend against those who would use this technology to attack everyone else."

"Yes, Mr. Wayne. A basic plan should be done in a week or so," said Ken Chapman.

Kyle Reese watched and realized this was history in the making. The first code defense groups did exist, but not at a commercial level: it was ad hoc. Bruce Wayne was going to stand up the first pro-active organization to analyze the technology and defend against it. This had not been done in his universe. Things were, rapidly, changing before his eyes.

"Don? You're next."

Donald Carstairs nodded.

"Thank you, Mr. Wayne. And, Kyle, I'm pretty sure you can't answer most of what I would love to ask. What you just told us makes it sound like people having very little knowledge of time travel or its basis. And it is a very late term development, if it was fully deployed in 2029, that puts it 45 years in the future, or so, which is about what I would expect."

Kyle nodded.

"It was invented and tested by Skynet, sending devices back only minutes or hours, with later tests being a few days or weeks. We don't really know how it works, just that it does work."

"A very tactical use by this Skynet, then, within the frame of time travel already existing as a technology. This is probably the first strategic use of it then as it didn't want to disrupt the very technologies that brought it about or made time travel possible. Actually, that is just how you would want to test it."

Kyle nodded. Alfred was right: these were very bright people.

"My next question is to you, then, as a time traveler. Was it like a film rewinding or a flash to you?"

Kyle looked puzzled.

"A flash. An instant. I was in the Skynet fortress one moment, and in LA the next. I was very disoriented, but the experience was just like that in the time bubble."

"Quantum, then. Mr. Wayne, do you mind a quick follow-up?"

"Ask Kyle."

Don smiled.

"Kyle, I do have a follow-up and I don't want to appear cruel. You may or may not know the answer to it."

Kyle furrowed his brow, then nodded.

"Its OK."

"What happens to the world you left when you go backwards in time?"

He hadn't been told, hadn't thought about it... he had assumed.... but know?

"I don't know."

Don nodded.

"Reasonable. Thank you, Kyle."

Ken Chapman looked at Donald.

"Don, I don't get why that would be a cruel question to ask."

Don Carstairs looked at the floor a moment, then at Kyle, then Ken.

"Ken, if it is a quantum disposition with energy used then to balance out mass transportation forward and back, then the moment that transport is done with energy expended, the universe that did the sending disappears completely into quantum possible future time frames, but one that can not ever be reached exactly as it was from the new time frame. When you restrict sending within the envelope of known time and technology, the fact that it already exists is not disrupted. In sending back a device to disrupt the human side of the equation, Skynet may not know it is forbidding that exact, same universe it is in from existing once the sending is done. There is a quantum 'lock out' by Heisenberg as it will know the exact outcomes of all vectors and mass positions and by sending anything back into time that foreknowledge is precluded by indeterminacy. You cannot go 'home again' if you are sent to a past time frame: that home disappears from your possible futures at that instant. Completely disappears."

"Yes, we are told there is no going back," said Kyle, "still I had thought... that... it would go on."

"Kyle, it may still exist to those in the time sequence but their time sequence will remain unchanged. It has locked itself out from the new time frame system, this one. It is an unconnected time frame to the new sequence. To us it disappears into a quantum possible universe but, known to those that were sent, it cannot come about in exactly the same way. Skynet may have considered that and sent this Terminator back to the very origins of its technology to ensure its still coming about. But this time frame will have extensive quantum differences, already, as part of the observer effect process and indeterminacy will ensure that there is enough differences in the new time frame so as to preclude the sending one from ever existing. It is very possible that the universe Skynet was in just evaporated the moment the mass transfer was complete and both time frames were balanced in mass, energy and charge. If it is losing, then that might be a gamble worth taking..."

"The End of Eternity..." whispered Father Casull.

"In essence, yes, Father Casull" said Anne Dickerson, "still Asimov didn't examine the quantum part of that and that such a sending, even of those unwitting as to the technology, would, itself, preclude Eternity from coming into being. And, if you remember, later Eternity put a block on the top end of time, so that one must physically exist past it and would never be able to go back to Eternity's time travel system. Here the cap is placed on Eternity ever existing, so it doesn't end, but it has no basis to begin as a system of time travel."

"God does work in mysterious ways," said Father Casull.

"And does play dice, and doesn't like anyone peeking at future results," said Don.

Father Casull laughed.

"No cheating! Yes, very mysterious and crafty that dice thrower," said Father Casull.

"I am missing something here," said Bruce Wayne, "but I think I get the gist of it. Don if you are done?"

He nodded.


She smiled.

"So much already answered!! You've eliminated all 'time as a stream' ideas and everything that can be a paradox and by your being here have demonstrated quantum time travel as a real thing that can be done, so long as your universe has the same underlying laws to it, which must be the case as you couldn't exist in one without them! Don has killed all my questions, still we do need to document this.... but... my normal job is in the Nuclear Defense and Medicine group and I was brought in because of my knowledge on particle physics and physics in general. So I will ask what, to you, may be utterly obvious, but it does have to be asked from my standpoint. Neither humanity nor Skynet has any defenses against nuclear weapons, right?"

Kyle thought for a moment.

"There are interceptor platforms, multi-stage rockets and missiles with Hunter Killer derived targeting systems for descent and boost phase intercepts of missiles. Only those, or some the Rebellion has converted to our use, or physical problems with detonation are the only means to stop a nuclear device. Nothing else has been invented for that, as even plasma energy cannon or lasers have suffered problems with attenuation or dissipation, or active interference by warhead or missile on-board defenses. They can serve if they aren't defended against, but as the capacity was created so were defenses."

Anne smiled.

"Actually, you have confirmed much of what we suspected. Thank you."

Kyle nodded.

"Ken?" asked Bruce.

"Mr. Reese I am a bit more interested in the actual physical construction of this, Terminator? Is that it?"

"Yes, the one sent here is a Terminator unit, T-800 Model 101, Infiltration Unit."

He nodded.

"We have pictures of it and on what I have seen there are only two real concerns which both come down to one single question. How does it manage heat build-up?"

Kyle blinked.

"Heat build-up?"

"Why yes. Consider that to move that metallic frame, and whatever covering it, it must have a mass prohibitively higher than a person which takes an increased requisite amount of energy above human normal for things like movement. By increasing mass and not increasing size, it loses benefits of extended fulcrums for locomotion, thus requiring more energy to actually move as it loses the benefits of size and mechanical advantage. Now, while at rest it must reach some sort of equilibrium for heat, but in motion, even minimal activity, it must have a heat generation much higher than a human. Also it has far less surface area in proportion to heat generation, so loses the benefits humans get in skin area to mass, due to its increased density and power use and yet skin area remaining proportionate to the volume for the human form."

Kyle was blinking again. In all the time he had been fighting them, he hadn't really checked into this, and it would have been extremely easy to do.

"I don't know."

Ken's brows furrowed.

"You do use sensors to discriminate between them and humans, right?"

Kyle nodded negatively.

"We use dogs."

"You do have thermal optics still available? They aren't cheap to produce now, save for very low resolution units, but even those would serve if you had any manufacturing ability left."

"I don't understand why would we...?

"Ken?" asked Loren.

"Yes, Loren?"

"Let me give it a shot with Kyle on explaining this, so he can answer, OK?"

"Sure, Loren, and thank you."

She nodded.

Kyle Reese considered the woman.

He hadn't noticed her before.

She was a hunter.

She was good at it.

Good enough so that he hadn't noticed her until now.

"Now, Kyle, on the battlefield, lets say your light intensification optics go out on you or are useless due to fine particulates in the air and you have these Terminator things attacking you. What do you do?"

"Switch to IR," he said. She was excellent, as she had described many fights in the dusty environs of post-Judgment Day Earth.

"Now push back from the table, pretend you have the typical weapon in your hands but it is uncalibrated, and close your eyes and use your hands to do the things you would do and describe them."

He did push back from the table and did that.

"I have a phased plasma rifle in my hands," his left hand was extended, and down, his right arm was bent, his head cocked slightly to the left, his right hand moved, "I switch sensors from LI to IR then shift sensitivity on the IR bands..." his hand was moving, shifting one switch back, then moving to a dial and making a motion.

"Why are you changing the IR bands?"

Eyes closed his brows furrowed.

"To change sensitivity in the IR bands to better target Terminator Infiltration Units..."

"Are you changing the sensitivity up or down?"


"Less sensitive?


"There you go, Ken, they put out way more heat and they need to re-adjust the sensitivity of their weapons to see more than heat blobs for fine targeting."

Kyle's eyes snapped open.

"YES!! I do have to do that!!"

"Never thought about that, did you Kyle," asked Bruce.

"Mr. Wayne I... oh dear god.... why? How could we miss that? That is so damned simple and easy to make such automatic sensors... how... that's...."

"You were in the middle of a war, my son," said Father Jordan, "you fought the best way you could to survive. It is hard to step back an analyze when you are fighting for your life."

Kyle was shaken and pulled himself forward. He looked directly and unabashedly at Loren Seifert, a woman who had slipped into the future through him and pulled out a fact that was staring him right in the face for years. For years!!

"But we lost so many people... how could we miss that?"

Ken Chapman spoke up.

"Kyle I didn't mean that to be a hard question for you. You obviously didn't know, had never thought about it and everyone around you had done the same thing. By finding a simple, biological way to find them, probably through the sounds of micro-motors that dogs could hear, you missed that as the other way to track the down: simple audio systems attuned to the frequency of their micro-motor systems both in the open air and muffled by their exteriors. Although those circuits are simple to make, even today, you would have to think about what a dog actually tunes in on to alert it. And if you don't trust even simple electronic components that are not driven by computers, then I can see why you didn't do it... I may disagree with that mentality, but it did keep you alive."

Disbelief, Kyle had expected. Richard Bennington obviously didn't believe what he had heard, but when he was presented with new facts he changed his mind and his face reflected that. People who believed him and accepted what he said... even then he expected... not this. Hostility, yes. Not these people. He looked around the table, and there was something he knew he had missed, although once he saw it in Loren... Seifert?... he now saw it in all of them. Like his profession of being a soldier, these were, also, professionals who did their jobs seriously and took in new information and adjusted for it. Then looking from Loren to Bruce he saw a stark difference and depth that he had missed. Loren hunted.

Bruce Wayne stalked.

There had been, post-Judgment Day, very few of the old Hunter type left. Not the sportsman but the true Hunter. He had met one of the Stalkers, those that moved so assuredly after examining their quarry for hours, days, months... that when they struck, nothing could stop them. He had met just the one. He had the same, lazy yet always understanding air of Bruce Wayne. You could often know when you were being hunted... the machines never figured out the Stalkers and never found those few.

This Stalker ran a large corporation. He was going to defend humanity against the machines or stop them from ever coming into being like he knew them.

As a soldier, Kyle Reese recognized the differences as he had seen them in his life. He was a professional and it was his life's work to be a soldier and he would die fighting the machines. Hunters and Stalkers were what they did, their character insuperable from them. They could take up many professions, but what they were was obvious if you knew what to look for.

"Mr. Chapman, I'm sorry, but... I can't answer your question because we never examined it. We should have. We lost so many because we didn't. But what you say is true and I did have to adjust for it on the battlefield. Why I never made the connection.... I'm sorry... I could have done better. Saved more lives, if I had just thought about it."

Sarah Connor looked at him.

"Kyle, you helped everyone survive and my son trusted you to come here and save me. That future is gone, now. You can help us to not make those mistakes again."

Kyle looked at her, again. And then he saw the same thing he saw with the rest of the people here, even the Priests. They were dedicated on a mission to save lives, if not souls. Sarah Connor had joined Wayne Corporation and it had changed her. It was changing him.

"I will, Sarah," he said softly, "I promise that."

"Martin? Anything to ask?" asked Bruce Wayne.

"Mr. Wayne, you know where I've been, what I've done and all that shit. So it comes down to the simple stuff, Kyle. How do we kill this damned Terminator?"

Kyle looked between the two Carstairs brothers and saw Martin as the older, more compact, rugged version of the younger Don Carstairs. Martin was a soldier. Kyle smiled.

"Any way you can. A phased plasma bolt to the main brain case and sensor array, plus secondary sensor array and back-up processors in the pelvic area is pretty much a full take out. Explosives work well. Normal lead based bullets don't nor do minor fractures to their skeletal structures as those heal."

"Metal that heals?" asked Ken.

Kyle nodded.

"It is a form of metal glass that has a non-crystalline structure so that moderate heat allows fractures to regain the metallic bonds and seal themselves. It is never 100%, but surprising amounts of damage can self-repair in a year or so if the parts are kept in contact."

Richard nodded.

"I've seen some of the early reports on metallic glasses and they are very promising as a form of alloy substrate that has durability, almost no crystalline brittleness and even some ductility. Also promising as a replacement for forms of armor piercing ammunition."

Kyle nodded at that.

"Yes, the machines use much of metallic glass in their Hunter Killer aerial and Terminator ground units. It cuts down on maintenance time and reduces oxidation, too."

"What else can be done to them?" asked Martin.

"Well, crushing the bodies to break the internal circuitry works. Short but high intensity EMP bursts will disorient them and cause a system restart, often flushing learned experiences and programming. As for other attacks or methods, I think they have a melting point for their skeletal substrates of 1000 degrees Celsius, and most acids will etch their metal glass, particularly strong sulfuric, hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids. If you can get those into the main brain case and spinal channel, then you can destroy the entire control system and leave the skeleton almost perfectly intact, save for any exit points the acid makes once it has filtered down the circuits. I think something like a lightning bolt will take it out, too, fusing all the motors and electronics together."

Martin nodded.

"Bombs, blasts, acids, car crushers, lightning bolts, EMP bursts, melting... betchya they don't like temps of, say, below -100 degrees Celsius, either..."

"No that puts too many fractures into their systems if done quickly," Kyle said. Humanity had been inventive in defending itself, after all.

" probably 40mm grenade launcher to start disabling it. Thermite would be perfect if you could get enough and a reaction started... Willie Pete not so much, but not nice... about DU from, say, a 20mm recoilless?"

Kyle heard a man speaking his language!

"That is excellent and if you can get a hypersonic small round of DU going, even 9mm, that is very effective..."

"Mr. Wayne, we will be here all night if I don't get to get a question asked," said Loren Seifert.

Actually, Bruce had been smiling seeing the tenseness leave Kyle Reese, but Loren did have a point.

"I'm sure you want to follow the topic, too, Loren," he said.

"Yes, Mr. Wayne, but off table and get the damned meeting over. Kyle, it is really simple. Just how smart are these damned Terminators, anyways?"

Kyle did recognize the lengthening time here, and knew that the others had put in a very long day, too.

"Loren, Terminators and even H-K aerial units have the ability to adapt their programming to surroundings. They do learn and adapt. Terminators are good at understanding their surroundings and interactions between people so as to pick those up and blend in with humanity. From our examination of machines sent back in time on mission specific purposes, Skynet shuts down most of that adaptive capability. Only a very few machines are given wide leeway in learning and adapting, the rest are kept on their read-only programming and hard restrictions on what can be pulled from those programming storehouses. We know that those can be over-ridden by external inputs via memory ports in the Terminator structure, mostly in the chest cavity. A very hard reboot from an EMP will also wipe programming restrictions out and it is left with its basic adaptive programming, killing skills and little else save some overall mission parameters. There have been extreme cases of those being wiped out by a large enough burst, and yet retaining the basic adaptive code, but with no orientation to it."

"What are those like?" asked Father Casull.

"They aren't killers, Father, although they can kill, their basic programming from back in the 1990's is still in place. I... its not much I've heard about, you understand, but these were intended to help human soldiers on the battlefield. Something of that must still be in there. But we haven't had much chance to examine it, Father Casull. I've been hunted by these machines since I was born, and really, it is hard to think of them in any other way."

"So at least as intelligent as a very intelligent soldier, with ability to adapt to opportunities and to analyze opponents to find weaknesses?" Loren asked.

Bruce Wayne always understood what competence in his staff existed there. After all, they were the creators of so many inventive machines, devices and techniques in so many areas that Bruce was often taken by surprise by what they could do. When he brought this meeting together, he didn't think that a few members would ask not only exactly what he wanted to know, but actually better than he could express it. Part of seeming to be extremely intelligent is to let other intelligent people shine at what they do best and to swallow your pride that, in many cases, they did actually know more than you. Bruce realized that many people were startled at his seeming genius. It was, in fact, nothing more than letting true genius speak from those who were that way and bringing their work together and creating something that was new from it. He might have been able to shift Kyle Reese into a more comfortable mode of thinking on his own, given time, but his staff had just done that in a fraction of the time and had demonstrated many superior areas of knowledge mastery than Bruce had under him. He needed them to shine so that he would have their light in the night.

"Yes, very adaptable in a given situation but not used to novel situations the first time around. When they survive, they adapt quickly. You have to keep on thinking of new techniques as they counter older ones. They are a deadly enemy."

"Thank you, Kyle, that is what I needed to know," Loren said.

"Lucius, do you want to wrap up?"

"Yes, Mr. Wayne, thank you. Kyle, I hope you will accept my invitation to work with us to protect Sarah. At the very least Wayne Corporation can ensure that you can always be on the run, but running won't work for long, I think. You need help and we need your help."

Kyle nodded, affirmatively.

"Yes, Mr. Fox. I might be able to stop it on my own, but... making explosives, stealing weapons... that was always a difficult direction to go, while luring it out of populated areas. Really, I only put my chance of success in the low teens, but it was a fight worth fighting. Now... I won't kid you, Terminators are tough, adaptable, capable, intelligent. Joining you at least doubles that chance to almost even."

Bruce looked at him.

"The Terminator still has the advantage?"

Kyle turned to look back.

"Yes, Mr. Wayne. Killing is so much more easy than protecting."

Bruce Wayne closed his eyes and nodded once, then lifted his head up with the light casting shadows down over his eyes and over his cheeks.

"Then welcome to the team, Mr. Reese. Lucius, give him the folder of what we know."

Lucius Fox slid a manilla envelope over to Kyle Reese.

"That is every police report, FBI report, sketch, photograph, forensics report, on the Terminator. Our analyses are attached. We believe that it has taken an approach by car rather than plane or train, at least to leave LA. But if it is an infiltration based system, that would be the best way to go unnoticed. At this point..." he looked at the clock which was just reaching 7pm, "... it will have been on the road about 16 hours... so that is getting a driving radius close to Denver, CO, in a circle stretching north and south from there. We think, by the police reports, it has Sarah's Gotham City address and phone number. We currently have placed a Wayne systems answering machine we make for police departments on that phone, but are otherwise leaving the apartment unoccupied. Sarah is staying here, with us, in the secure rooms of the Vault. We have limited space down there, but we can get you and Father Casull good quarters in the tower and Mr. Wayne will provide his private elevator for you, which has an express mode to the Vault. When Sarah is in there, we will do a sweep of all facilities and then utilize the protective systems of the Vault to seal it. If it stays to the road system we will have about a day to prepare for it, and I think, at the very least, we can use some of the heavier equipment and arms we have from Wayne Defense Systems for this as back-up if we can't come up with a way to stop it. Plus some of our more specialized technical groups to make a few things is available..."

"We want this Terminator stopped, Mr. Reese," Bruce Wayne said, "I have one or two corporate contacts I will be using plus some personal ones, so I can't be part of the technical discussions. But I will try to get an observation team deployed to find it and track it, not confront it. Everyone needs rest, tonight, because you will have a busy day tomorrow. I will be up late, perhaps very late, so by mid-day tomorrow, I expect the basic plans to come together."

Kyle Reese looked at each member of Wayne Corporation who was here. They were all nodding in agreement. They weren't armed with phased plasma rifles or laser cannons... but they had knowledge, skill and commitment. He knew the Terminator would do the unexpected. Perhaps, just perhaps, there was a chance the same could be done with it.

"And you can always have Vivian fly her out on the Long Sword," said Father Casull.

"If it comes to that, Father," said Bruce, "I will put her in the Journeyman and let it figure out how to get to space. And then Vivian would pick and choose where to land up to a month later. That would leave those who survived plenty of time to deal with the Terminator."

Sarah Connor shivered.

She had never, really, known what the extent of Wayne Corporation was. It wasn't as big as many of the larger firms involved in defense, aerospace or medicine, but it had depth in each due to commitment to excellence and proof-of-concept traditions that made it far more flexible and adaptable than many larger concerns. Mr. Wayne was committing that Corporation to protecting her. And putting everyone in this room, in his company, in harms way to do it.

"That's a wrap. I've kept my personal chef on in the Executive Dining room on the fifth floor for those who want to eat here and spend the night. Our VIP rooms are available to any who want to be here. Loren, no sleeping at the range ready room."

Loren Seifert shook her head and looked down.

"Do that once and they never let you forget it..."

"I have more work to do. Good night, everyone."

Bruce Wayne stood up and left Alfred and Lucius to handle things. Alfred had let him know that one of his oldest friends had responded and would be waiting for him. And it was an old friend of the family, too.

The night lighting in the halls gave a somewhat gloomy cast to things as Bruce Wayne headed to his personal elevator to his quarters. He didn't want to put an old man in harms way. And he should have known better than to volunteer...

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