"Art is long, life is short."
As Cameron sat on the floor distraught with Sarah's dead body cradled in her lap, a woman leaned over and whispered in Cameron's ear:
"Shut up. You're attracting attention."
She reached in the pocket of the body and took the car keys. A man picked up Sarah's body out of Cameron's lap and walked off. The first woman picked up Sarah & Cameron's mail off the floor, got out of the way, and left. As yet another stranger helped Cameron to her feet; she noticed that the body of the terminator was being carried off by two men while two other people were telling onlookers:
"Move on. There's nothing to see here. Just someone having a seizure."
No one was having a seizure but if some rubbernecker dialed 911; then when the police arrived, there would be no criminal to arrest, a cover story in place, confused witnesses, and no victim with a bullet in her since all bullet wounds have to be reported to the police.
"Let's go." said a woman hurrying Cameron to a waiting vehicle. Only seconds had passed from gunshot to the words "let's go."
As many vehicles peeled out of the parking lot, the van with the terminator (an electronic restraint attached to his head) went in one direction, the vehicle that Cameron was in went in a second direction, and the vehicle that Sarah's body was in went in a third direction.
The first woman, driving Sarah's SUV, followed the third vehicle. The windowless van was headed for Ecalpon.
The woman next to Cameron said: "In your neighborhood, at your school, at your church and at Ecalpon, it's easy to protect you. Out in public, it's near impossible."
"Where's my mother's body?"
"She's not dead. She's being taken to Doctor Fleming's office but an ER physician will look her over. When she gave us your itinerary this morning, we told her to wear a bulletproof vest."
Noticing Cameron's reaction, the woman added: "Your mother is also your bodyguard. Didn't you know?"
"No, I didn't." said Cameron shocked.
Cameron looked out the window at the vehicles in the lead and then turned and looked at the vehicles following. The driver of the vehicle following them wore dark Aviator sunshades but her face was unmistakable. She had seen it in the mirror. The driver could be Cameron's identical twin.
"Where are we going?"
"To a safe house until the general over your security is absolutely sure that it is safe for you to go home. If it isn't, then everyone will be pulling out of Wichita and we will all be headed for a new city."
"I want to see my mother."
"I'm sure you do but you don't give orders until we get the all-clear."
Softening her tone, the security woman patted Cameron's hand and said: "She'll be okay."
When the police arrived minutes later, there was nothing to see, confused witnesses, and with another call on their radio, the police took statements and soon left the matter in the hands of the post office branch manager who saw only paperwork and forms to fill out for the US Mail security division, the local police department, and the FBI since it occurred on federal property.
10 November 2009
An ordinary Tuesday. Since Good Friday in April, time had in some ways stopped.
Election Day had just passed last week and tomorrow was Veterans Day. Appropriate. As fast as we elected politicians, they got us mired in foreign conflicts that sent home veterans crippled physically or mentally.
And Cameron was tired of an existence of dying and death and destruction. She wished that she was a doctor because doctors heal.
Sarah's ribs still hurt from the wallop she had taken. And, though Cameron hid it well, Cameron was still in shock over the incident.
A man walked down a sidewalk wearing a sandwich board that said: The end is near. It was not just a Christian perspective. Many prophecies said the end was near.
A month ago, Cameron had let two generals talk her out of attacking Black Rock. One made the point that attacking and possibly killing American servicemen on American soil would brand The Resistance as terrorists. The other general made the point that while killing Skynet was a good thing, killing Skynet in this way would wipe The Machine Underground out of existence. The machines in the alliance were willing to sacrifice their own lives but were touched that it was a human general who made the point.
Cameron decided to not physically attack but to pull out all the stops in every other mode of attack. Skynet would wish she had physically attacked.
Extreme political pressure is applied to shut down the Skynet project.
The United States Senate holds hearings to investigate "the risky Skynet project" which some call "the doomsday project."
The United States House of Representatives cuts funds for the project.
Adverse publicity for the project, when the White House press corps asks the president embarrassing questions.
The White House
"Mister President, why are you proceeding with a project that even your own weapons scientists and generals say could kill us all?"
"What project are you talking about? The defense department has thousands of projects."
"Skynet." say several correspondents in the room.
The Press Secretary switches off the sound pickup on the microphones as the Commander in Chief leans over to an aide and asks: "What the hell is Skynet? I've never heard of it."
the aide: "Must be some low level project with a cost overrun, disgruntled ex-personnel, a crash during a test flight, that sort of thing. I'll look into it."
Investigative journalists like Sixty Minutes and the New York Times are digging into the Skynet project. There are leaks, exposés, headline stories in newspapers, news magazines devoting entire issues to Skynet, and prime time TV news specials. Skynet and the Skynet Development Team ignore it all because the public has a short attention span. There will always be another story and some music video star and sports and bread and circuses to distract the fools. An entire generation with attention deficit disorder and off its medication.
People in other countries are complaining about the Skynet project calling it "a death sentence for mankind" and "that genocide project" and "mass murder if they continue the project" and "the final solution." One Arab reporter calls it "suicide, but what do you expect of those crazy American militarists?"
He dies mysteriously.
There are protesters outside of the gates of the military base where the Black Rock bunker is located.
There are protesters outside the White House.
Among the corporations that are prime contractors for the Skynet there are embarrassing scandals, cost overruns, and delays. This is all dismissed as deliberate sabotage (which it might be) and the project goes on.
Defense Department civilians from the Secretary of Defense on down turn against the Skynet project.
Generals and admirals from the Joint Chiefs of Staff on down turn against the Skynet project.
The AI elders secretly encourage cyber-attacks on the Skynet project.
The president finally gives a direct order to immediately shut the Skynet project down forever. He is assassinated and when the Vice-president is sworn in as the new commander-in-chief, he orders activation of Skynet. There are rumors that "President Evil" is a terminator.
"The unstoppable project" is what the media is now calling the Skynet project. Every time someone connected with the project dies, there is retaliation. The death toll among the Resistance and Underground this month is now ten deaths.
Cameron orders Tech-Comm to create a tracking system using sensors developed by the Time Lab. Generals friendly to the Resistance are given the sensors to install aboard some military satellites to be launched soon. Three keyhole satellites are tasked to pick up from orbit the telltale signature of time travel -- lightstorm.
Once the new tracking system is in place, they can hunt terminators as they arrive from the future. Meanwhile, the Machine Underground concentrates on going after Kaliba hit men who are a threat that arrives not from the future but from the present.
a Tech-Comm lab
lab assistant: "What are you doing? This thing was sent to kill Connor. Shouldn't we be destroying it instead of experimenting on it?"
Katherine Brewster is looking at her electronic instruments, including an oscilloscope and a monitor, connected to leads in the cranium of the infiltrator.
"It is above your security clearance level to know but I'm not experimenting, I'm reprogramming."
"May I ask what you're reprogramming it to do?"
"You can ask."
The following silence spoke volumes.
Three generals in another Tech-Comm location are talking.
"We run through so many leaders."
"Now we know why. The machines keep a top ten list of humans most wanted dead."
"Connor's at the top of it."
"You have to admire a man who uses what the machines throw at him against the machines."
"This infiltrator is being reprogrammed from poisoning whoever is leader at the moment to serving as our leader if needed. Connor's own idea."
"Poisoning? I didn't think the machines were capable of being so sneaky. I thought terminators were simple and stupid -- walk up and shoot point blank."
"Strictly speaking, this one is an infiltrator not a terminator. Poisoning had to be Skynet's own idea and not one of his generals."
"Well . . . we can be sneaky too."
"The rank and file will never accept a machine as leader if it came to that."
"I disagree. What people will never accept is a kid. This one is young in age, in temperament and in appearance."
"Rumor has it that The Machine Underground has a baby for a leader."
"They're machines not humans, they don't have our prejudices."
"Who's doing the modifications after Brewster finishes the scrub?"
"To turn it into the ultimate weapon for fighting Skynet -- the Antiskynet."
A low-ranking Resistance fighter has caught the attention of Connor. Kyle Reese has won his stripes first by killing terminators and then by organizing the Reese Brothers gang to fight the machines with his older brother Derek. Once, he was captured and was in the same work camp as somebody named Connor.
Years passed. Connor is now leader. And Kyle and Derek are in different units of Tech-Comm. Derek is now a first lieutenant in the 132nd SOC. As for Kyle . . . .
technical command bunker
Connor has just heard a depressing report on the sorry state of his air force. Almost nonexistent. He is now contentedly listening to one of his admirals describe fairly successful efforts to refit submarines so that humans can counter the Skynet SeaSharks with something resembling a navy. The newly reprogrammed Cameron is now a yeoman. She enters the war room silently, hands Connor a communiqué' and steps back into a corner out of the way.
The communiqué is from the Machine Underground. They have tipped him off to an intelligence report that his mother, Sarah Connor, is "a person of interest" to Skynet. That phrase usually meant that Skynet intended to kill any interesting human.
"Where is that yeoman?"
Officer Phillips stepped forward.
"Find Private Kyle Reese and report with him to the Time Lab. Dismissed."
Machines serving Skynet had little control of their lives and destiny. Since leaving the staff of Skynet, this particular machine had no control of her life or destiny. Basically, she was busted down in rank from Skynet's yeoman on his general staff to buck private and then sent on a suicide mission. Just like Allison had been. The scrub was humiliating and terrifying. Then she found herself a yeoman again. Serving her former enemy.
She had known no family. Not build mother nor build father, the industrial robots who had built her. Not sisters or others on the assembly line that built her -- that she would admit to. No friends in her old Skynet battalion. The one male (in appearance) machine in her training unit who had saved her life during a training accident had been sent to the front where the humans were putting up the stiffest resistance and he was now presumed killed in action.
Skynet Forces did not use the term "missing in action" because that implied that Skynet Forces cared what happened to captured or damaged machine combatants. Unlike humans, the machines left their dead metal bodies on the battlefield to rust. Sometimes they weren't dead. Sometimes a machine soldier had his limbs blown off or something heavy fell on him and pinned him down. If he had no radio to call for help, he might agonize for decades in rain, snow, and heat unable even to commit suicide. If a human showed compassion and tried to repair them, then invariably the HK's and early terminators killed their benefactor in return. Some of the more advanced machines that came later had second thoughts about killing any human who helped them. It wasn't conscience yet. It was whatever led to a conscience. Humans were the enemy so why would any human help them? The illogic. Programming conflict. A few solids and liquids decided that they hated Skynet for his policy of never rescuing captured machines held as POW's and never organizing MASH units to repair damaged machines. They organized The Machine Underground.
However, Skynet Forces had machine psychologists while Connor's forces had no use for counselors, psychiatrists or morale officers. He had grown up with a mother who hated shrinks. And now this communiqué. It wasn't Present Sarah that interested Skynet so much as Past Sarah. When she was eighteen to be precise.
Even terminators know disquiet when the little control that they have over their lives is reduced to zero. Officer Phillips had only two acquaintances among the humans since being reprogrammed: The Engineer and John Connor. Now he was sending her away to an unknown place and time with no friends. Another suicide mission.
Kyle is still painfully young and has yet to really start shaving.
an industrial park
A terminator is trying to run Sarah down with a tanker truck. Kyle sticks a pipe bomb on the truck as it passes and dives into a dumpster. Boom! The explosion stops the tanker. Sarah looks around and calls out.
He crawls out of the dumpster and as the two embrace, the terminator stands up in the flames. It is pissed that its skin sheath has been burned off, that it has developed a limp, and that these two hard-to-kill humans seem to be enjoying something that it will never enjoy. Love.
They seek shelter in a nearby closed machine shop that does not have a third shift. Kyle turns everything on to confuse the terminator following them. The terminator may be slow but it is relentless and they are exhausted. Kyle whacks the terminator aside the head with a metal rod. It slaps him out apparently cold and continues the hunt for Sarah. As it passes the body of Kyle on some steps, he sticks a pipe bomb in the terminator's ribs and rolls off the platform. The explosion blows the terminator's legs off and kills Kyle. Undeterred, the terminator crawls after Sarah who also has to crawl since she has a broken leg. There is a price for single-mindedness as The Terminator learns too late. Sarah has led it into a sheet press; she presses the button and terminates it.
doctor: "The tests are back. You have ovarian cancer and it has spread to your uterus."
Sarah: "Am I going to die?"
doctor: "No. Radiation and chemotherapy should save your ovaries but you'll need a hysterectomy. Sign this and I'll schedule the surgery."
After the doctor leaves the room, a frail Sarah wearing only a flimsy hospital gown ponders her fate.
Sarah: "Kyle said that if he was terminated, then I should be your Protector. How can I do that when I can't even protect myself from cancer?"
In answer to the question, Cameron stepped forward and hugged her mother.
"No fate but what we make. You taught me that. Just get a second and third medical opinion, and then act on your best judgment."
Years later, two Camerons in two universes died. Or did they just switch places?
Hippocrates said: "Life is short, art long, occasion sudden; to make experiments dangerous; judgment difficult. Neither is it sufficient that the physician do his office, unless the patient and his attendants do their duty, and that externals are likewise well ordered."
By this he meant the medical arts and the long training required to become a physician.