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 September 9, 2009 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 2009, 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.
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__________________ Don't teach a person how to win a fight, teach them how to survive a fight.
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, plastic explosives(C-4, see pic below) and plasma conversion devices._ SKYNET's early Machines were equipped with standardized weapons, machine guns, 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.