Les Miles sat down on a burned out car and set his VX 2500 Plasma Rifle aside. He took a deep breath and out of habit scanned the horizon for HKs. The war had been tough, and lately, seemed hopeless. The machines had fought off the brief successes of the resistance. Everyone in Camp 23 had been growing more and more frustrated by the day. Les had even heard some talk of surrender to the machines.
He had his doubts sometimes too. He tried to keep a brave face but in private he couldn’t stop the tears. His grandmother often told him of a time before the war - a time where people could live freely and without fear.
Les shook his head and stood back up. He couldn’t afford to spend time childishly daydreaming. War is all he had ever known. He picked up his rifle and started to head back to the base.
He turned the corner when all of a sudden his phazar started wildly beeping. He glanced at the tiny device on his wrist.
“Three terminators,” he muttered, “great.”
Without wasting a second, Les raced to a nearby structure. It was mostly wreckage now but it would have to be good enough to hide him from the approaching machines.
The machines came into view. They appeared to be lifelike. He held his breath and waited for them to pass. The machines scanned the building. Les didn’t move a muscle. He didn’t dare breathe in their direction.
They had started to turn away and continue their patrol when Les’s phazar began to beep wildly again. The machines spun around and opened fire. Les wasted no time. In quick succession he blasted the nearest terminator with two quick bursts from his weapon. The machine fell to the ground. He rolled down a short staircase, popped back up and quickly took down another one of the machines.
The third machine stopped firing his weapon. Instead, he tossed a grenade in Les’s direction. With deadly precision, it landed at his feet. Les bent his knees and jumped back as far as he could. He soared into the air just as the grenade went off. The ceiling of the building came crashing down on him. Everything went black.
It was dark when Les came to. A large chunk of lead wall saved him from the blast. He dusted himself off and felt around for his weapon. When his fingers touched the cool steel of the gun, he hurried outside and started to head back to camp.
Les had been a soldier all his life. That’s just the way it is now. He was holding a plasma rifle before he could walk and took down his first terminator at the age of three. When he was nine, he led a squadron of resistance fighters into a Skynet work camp to free the prisoners. Fighting was in his blood. He lived this shit.
Les wasn’t sure when or how the war first started. Some said the war had started in 2025. Others say it was more like 2200. Still others claimed we had always been fighting the machines. Accurate historical records were impossible now. The machines had destroyed so much. So much of the past was now gone forever. Les couldn’t even be sure of the year. He couldn’t afford to spend time thinking about that now. There was too much at stake.
As he walked, he was alerted to a funny green and purple light flickering off in the distance. It seemed to float up and down while lazily moving towards him. “That can’t be an HK,” he said under his breath. He had never seen any aircraft move like that.
Instinctively, he moved off the road and laid flat in the ditch, keeping an eye on the light as it moved closer and closer to his position. As he watched it, he had a gut feeling that it wasn’t a threat.
Suddenly, the light zoomed across the sky until it was right over Les. Before he had a chance to comprehend what was happening, an overpowering bright light flashed; he felt the dirt and weeds from the ditch vanish from underneath him.
When the light subsided, Les found himself lying in an enormous room. The walls seemed to be made completely of stainless steel, and the room was so large that he couldn’t see across it. He tried to stand up but his body felt like it weighed 1,000 pounds.
As he laid in the room, off in the distance he saw three figures approaching him. Their bodies were small and Les noticed they were bald and had large eyes. As they approached him, he realized that they weren’t walking but gliding.
“Do not be afraid,” one of the men said. “We bring you no harm. My name is Cardamom and we have traveled an extremely long way to find you.”
It occurred to Les that Cardamom wasn’t actually moving his mouth but he could hear his voice in his head.
“Yes, we are communicating via ESP,” Cardamom said. “You would not be able to understand us if we spoke in our native language. But enough pleasantries - let’s get down to business. You may not realize it but you are the key to ending this war.”
Les didn’t believe him. He was just a lowly soldier fighting a war that couldn’t be won.
“You can win this war but you need our help.” said Cardamom. “We have been watching your struggle and it’s time we help you end the war. You are the key to ensure the war doesn’t even begin.”
Les did not understand. He must have hit his head harder than he thought.
“What are you talking about,” Les asked. “This doesn’t make any sense.”
“I know it’s a lot to take in. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to explain. We took an older model of spaceship that doesn’t have any cloaking technologies. The machines will be here soon.”
Les followed them as they walked. He couldn’t tell where they were going. Suddenly a large and strange looking machine appeared out of nowhere.
“Get in. We need to hurry.”
Les sat down on an old worn seat that looked strangely like a bicycle seat. He grabbed the handlebars in front of him and Cardamom walked to the side of the device. He yanked a couple of times on a cord and the contraption sputtered to life.
“Alright, this is going to hurt” Cardamom said as he picked up a giant plug connected to a long black cord.
“What are you doing? What the hell is that?” Les asked.
“This machine has the ability to upload information directly into the brains of human beings. Setup takes a few moments but you can become an expert on anything instantly.”
“So how will this prevent judgement day?” Les was understandably skeptical.
“So here is the deal,” Cardamom said as he punched some numbers into a computer. “You can prevent judgement day but the only way is to return the Kansas Jayhawk football team to a point of respectability before it’s too late. We are uploading everything we have on the game of football into your brain. We have already used our nebulizer to create a profile for you as a national championship winning coach.”
Les did not understand what any of Cardamom was talking about. “Football? Nebulizer? I don’t understand.”
“What makes up someone’s mind is but a series of memories,” Cardamom replied. “We can alter those memories to be what we want them to be with our nebulizer. We used our machine to make the people living in the year 2019 to think you won the 2007 national championship at LSU. We also,” Cardamom chuckled, “had a little fun with it. We thought it would be funny if we put you in a movie with the guy who played Superman.”
“So how does this prevent judgement day?” Les asked again, still skeptical of the alien.
“You see, in 2021 there will be a struggling engineering student at the University of Kansas. Our plan is to send you back in time as the head football coach of that university. If you can lead the team to its first bowl game in over a decade, this student will be so caught up in the celebration he will blow off his Physics final, thereby causing him to drop out of the engineering program. If he does make it to that final exam, he will go on to create the VD9 Processor which causes the machines to revolt against the humans. It’s so simple - no final, no judgement day.”
Les was silent for a while. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just use your knowledge uploader and nebulizer to wipe this kid’s memory so he fails the test?”
Cardamom stopped what he was doing. He looked at the others with a puzzled look and then looked back at Les. The aliens appeared to be telepathically communicating with each other, but Les couldn’t hear any of the conversation.
Cardamom turned back to Les. “We, uh, we didn’t think of that. Regardless, we still think sending you back in time to coach the Jayhawk football team is the best course of action. Alright no more questions. Just relax and this will be over soon.”
Cardamom went back to the computer. After typing for a few minutes he stepped away and picked up a giant needle. “Don’t worry, this will all make sense soon. As a word of caution, the knowledge uploader will leave a scar on your head, so make sure you always wear a hat. Good luck.”
With that, Les felt a searing pain in the back of his head as Cardamom shoved the needle into his skull. Images, numbers, and all sorts of unfamiliar information flooded into his brain. After a few moments, Les felt himself being sucked into some kind of vortex.
Les closed his eyes and tried to hang on.
Les opened his eyes and found himself on a train. He looked out the window and saw colors and sights he had never seen before. Everything looked so alive and beautiful.
Tears began to well up in his eyes. “it’s so beautiful!” he exclaimed to a person sitting next to him.
“Beautiful?” an elderly woman said. “I just call it Kansas.”
Les put his hand down in his lap where it fell with a hard thunk. A large shiny ring engraved with LSU National Champions lay on his finger. He noticed for the first time he was holding a copy of that day’s paper.
Kansas Jayhawks Hire Les Miles as Head Coach, the front page read in bold letters. What? Les didn’t understand. He laid his head back and closed his eyes. Suddenly facts, figures and images from every football game ever played rushed into his mind. He could recall players from the past, present and future. Plays that worked or didn’t work and why they worked or didn’t work all seemed accessible in a giant file folder for him. A plan of action on how to fill so many empty roster spots on such a depleted roster seemed so clear to him.
The train lurched into the station and people began to file out. Not knowing where to go or what to do, Les followed the crowd. As he stepped off the train and onto the platform, he took a deep breath. He was so used to the smell of death and destruction. What he breathed in smelled so alive. It was wonderful.
Up ahead he saw a man in glasses holding a sign with his name on it. Les knew from his new memories that it was the Kansas athletics director, Jeff Long.
“Hi Les. I’m here to take you to your introductory press conference. You still think you can do this?”
“Rock Chalk,” Les confidently said as he was led to the waiting car that would take him to his new life as the savior to mankind.