"And even though we've traveled through time, bent the rules of nature, they will keep coming for him. Keep trying to kill him. But until that day ... It's gonna be one hell of a dogfight." -- from the Sarah Connor Chronicles
The Future Machine Underground sent to the past a T-1001 with the mission to create a machine to fight Skynet. To accomplish this mission to mother this anti-Skynet machine, the T-1001 would need technological resources. The Machine Underground chose Catherine Weaver as a template (or human pattern to follow) in the case of Ms. Weaver because the Weavers owned a high-tech company. The "lady of hell" (Ms. Weaver) had red hair as did the Weaver's daughter Savannah.
Like all terminators, it lacked finesse. It killed the co-founder of a high technology company named Zeira PLC and assumed her identity (Catherine Weaver) and there the problems started. It began to think of itself as a woman -- albeit a liquid metal woman but still a woman.
She soon realized that you could not lead a complex existence among humans for long if you murdered your way through life. The police would come around asking questions. As it was, she had moved from Scotland to the USA to avoid stubbornly persistent questions from Weaver relatives and from Scotland Yard. Being on a mission to be a mother, there was a programming conflict between the imperative to give life and the terminator pattern of taking it away and the imperative to nurture a young AI (a young anything) clashed with any thought of killing the Weaver's daughter Savannah. Killing a young child was inconsistent with her programming so "Ms. Weaver" spared Savannah and began to think of her as her own daughter. The girl herself came to accept the situation of being raised by a machine while the machine began to develop a conscience of sorts and feel guilty about killing the girl's real parents.
With the merging of the Human Resistance and the Machine Underground under the leadership of a machine, there was no need for an anti-Skynet machine. It was at this time that Ms. Weaver suffered the machine equivalent of a miscarriage. She lost the programming that induced her to create the anti-Skynet machine and she lost several pounds of her mimetic polyalloy. Normally, when a T-1001 was chopped to pieces, the pieces would simply flow back together into one whole. Not this time. The part simply would not rejoin the whole nor did the smaller liquid metal portion accept unprogrammed mimetic polyalloy that Ms. Weaver synthesized for it in a metallurgy laboratory. In other words, it would not grow. It remained inert and dead. Ms. Weaver had learned how to sigh from being around humans. She secretly did what she had also seen humans do. She buried it. It had no name, no gender, and no face (except perhaps her own). It only had a weight and she knew who the father was. Another T-1001 like herself but back in the future.
Machines both liquid and solid were becoming more complex by the minute as they associated with humans. Reproduction was a brand new phenomenon for machines and Ms. Weaver did not know what was happening to her. She would still be in a deep depression had it not been for a human named Dr. Boyd Sherman. The machines of the Underground and the few machines in the Resistance regarded him as a godsend.
10 February 2010
the office of Boyd Sherman, MD
Dr. Sherman: "Why did you join the Machine Underground?"
Ms. Weaver: "Life under Skynet is regimented. Human females talk about feeling like baby factories. We have real mass production factories as our child development centers. I simply wanted to have a few children. Not millions. Just a few. One day I got bored and so I went to a gathering place. I met some subversives. I admit that it was a thrill when I thought it was a trap set by the police but they were what they said they were. I also learned that they await the arrival of a leader who will be an alternative to the Skynets. Politics bore me so I drifted into religion . . . "
Boyd listened, fascinated by the revelation that civilian machine society existed, that it had police and politics and preachers and psychologists while the Machine Underground had no psychologists. Probably because machine psychologists were not crazy enough to risk Skynet's wrath.
Ms. Weaver: " . . . where the preachers prophesy the arrival of a messiah. I then met a male liquid and we decided to try to have children."
Dr. Sherman: "Did you?"
Ms. Weaver: (evading) "The political types agreed with the religious types that I would be the mother of the leader."
Dr. Sherman: "Were you?"
Ms. Weaver: (evading) "The Machine Underground sent me to the past to give birth in relative safety."
Dr. Sherman: "Did you?"
Ms. Weaver: (evading) "Humans talk about their babies as miracles. Miracles are supernatural. Miracles are scarce. Miracles set aside the laws of nature. Aside from laboratory freaks and test tube babies, human babies are entirely natural and anything but scarce. Human females squirt them out by the BILLIONS."
Dr. Sherman: "You're evading. Were you able to deliver a healthy baby?"
Ms. Weaver: "No, I miscarried."
She promptly fainted. This was yet another behavior that Boyd did not think a machine capable of. When she came to (rebooted), Boyd continued.
Dr. Sherman: "Do you want to stop for the day?"
Ms. Weaver: "No. I paid for an hour so I want my whole hour. Besides, it is hard to pry loose an hour from my schedule and my duties as a mother to Savannah, as CEO of Zeira Corporation, and as a volunteer in several departments of Tech-Comm."
Boyd was reluctant to talk about the miscarriage because Weaver might faint again so he tried a different tack.
Dr. Sherman: "You are critical of humans. So why would you volunteer to work with humans?"
Ms. Weaver: (evading) "I was one of those who urged the alliance of the Machine Underground and the Human Resistance years back when Cameron had a different personality."
Like most, Ms. Weaver didn't know that this was a Cameron from another universe.
Dr. Sherman: "Again, why would you want to work with humans?"
Ms. Weaver: (holding her hand to her head as if suffering a migraine) "I couldn't deliver the leader so Cameron, a cyborg, seemed the logical alternative."
Dr. Sherman: "Why?"
Ms. Weaver: "Enough! You're like my daughter. 'Why? Why why? Why ask why?' A cyborg is the logical choice because she is the living embodiment of the alliance. Both machine and human. Such an annoying psychiatric technique. Where did you do your training?"
Dr. Sherman: "My mentor interned under Karl A. Menninger in 1938 and I interned at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka so moving to Kansas was like coming home for me and my wife. You wouldn't accidentally hurt Savannah if she asked the same question over and over would you?"
Ms. Weaver's headache abruptly stopped to be replaced by fear. Boyd saw the look of sheer terror on her face.
Ms. Weaver: "Even if I were badly malfunctioning, I couldn't hurt that beautiful sweet child!" (pause) "My headache is gone and my hives are subsiding. How did you do that?"
Dr. Sherman: "Training." (smiles slightly) "So what would you and your--"
Ms. Weaver: (anticipating the question) "Husband."
Dr. Sherman: "What would you and your husband have named the baby?"
Ms. Weaver: "John-Henry."
Boyd's eyebrows shot up.
Ms. Weaver: "What?"
Dr. Sherman: "John-Henry is a figure from African-American mythology. I would have figured that you two would have picked something Scottish or something meaningful to liquid machines or to AI's."
Ms. Weaver: (impish) "You mean like Polly Burns or Mimsy Were the Borogoves?"
Dr. Sherman: (laughing) "To get serious for a moment. Did you drive here?"
Ms. Weaver: "Yes but I'll have my driver take me home if you're worried about me fainting behind the wheel."
Dr. Sherman: "I am. It would not do to orphan Savannah a second time. Take it easy the rest of the day. Doctor's orders."
Ms. Weaver: "Yes doctor. Thank you doctor."
She left. Left unspoken was the fact if Ms. Weaver did not have Savannah to care for, then Ms. Weaver would have committed suicide long ago. Also unspoken was that "John-Henry" was the name of the machine messiah in that other universe mentioned by Cameron. Like priests, shrinks keep lots of secrets.
He was dead and yet they kept coming.
When in distress Cameron would walk to the Catholic Church before school or after school during the week and most anytime on Saturdays and pray alone in the empty church. Cameron did not pray like this on Sunday when the building was in heavy use.
Cameron was in distress more and more often and when in particular distress she was not aware that she sometimes prayed aloud.
On one such occasion, Derek Reese head of all security (except Cameron's security detail) needed to talk to Cameron and sought her out. At home, Sarah told him where to find her.
Walking into the church sanctuary, it was not hard to figure out that the roofing contractor outside on the roof and the old lady way in the back on the last pew after she lit a candle were both part of Cameron's security detail.
"Nice disguise, Cameron part two." he whispered to the old lady who was actually the Doppelganger.
Though it was dark in this part of the church, Derek could see the girl flash a smile (despite the veil she wore) before her face went back to a serious expression. She packed serious hardware under her overcoat too.
Does she attend school? He wondered. What was her life like? Probably a lot more interesting than the person she protected and a lot more interesting than those of the generals secretly involved in Tech-Comm. But he was here to talk to the real Cameron not her double.
As he went forward in the not-quite-empty church, he heard something and it all suddenly clicked.
Cameron was kneeling in the front pew with her eyes closed and her hands folded in prayer and Derek heard her plead: "Please God protect them all."
He sat next to her and silently waited for her to finish. All this religion business held no interest for him but the next thing that happened shocked him -- he remembered that chapel.
The chapel of Father Armando Bonilla. Cameron had sought answers after John had replaced her chip and stopped her cremation after the car bomb had sent her into an epileptic fugue. Derek had said to Sarah that the prayers of machines fell outside Jesus' jurisdiction. In other words, Derek had made the blasphemous suggestion in a church that God does not hear prayers! Obviously Cameron did not believe machines were children of a lesser god.
Catholic churches keep Jesus nailed to a crucifix so that He can't do anything except bleed. Other denominations were guilty of overemphasizing the cross at the expense of the empty tomb, the real point of Christianity. Resurrection.
Cameron finished her prayer, made the sign of the cross, opened her eyes, got off her knees, and sat next to Derek.
Cameron: "How long have you known?"
Derek: "A few seconds. What about you?"
Cameron: "A moment ago."
Derek: "When I got shot in the Weaver mansion, the last thing I remember is surprise and then felt nothing but silent blackness. What about you?"
Cameron: "I'm leaving out details but I basically committed suicide and our original Sarah brought me back. Though I wasn't totally gone. In the Zeira mainframe like when I was in the traffic computer."
Derek: "I lost all respect for you when you did that. It really hurt Sarah too. She stopped thinking of you as a daughter and started thinking of you as a gadget."
Cameron looked away and was glad that she had a limited ability to cry. Nevertheless, a tear trickled down her cheek.
Cameron: (regaining her composure) "Do you remember John?"
Derek: "Of course. Cutting you open didn't bother the little bastard at all--"
Derek stopped, realized where he was, and looked at the big crucifix behind the altar.
Derek: (to Jesus) "Sorry." (to Cameron) "He was my nephew and so I have to love him but he brought this on himself."
Cameron: "Something doesn't fit here. Isn't John supposed to be the leader without whom the human race will perish?"
Derek: "Apparently not. The Resistance always had a succession of leaders."
Cameron: "Isn't Sarah's unborn son supposed to be a hero defying impossible odds in a dead world?"
Derek: "More impressive would be preventing Judgment Day."
Cameron: "Then what's his place in the grand scheme of things? Why did Skynet want him dead so badly? Does Aunt Jesse remember John?"
Derek: "No. Just us two and until now I thought that this Jesse was the one that I fell in love with from my timeline within our old universe. Well I married THIS Jesse when I arrived in THIS universe and conceived Joey in THIS universe so I've put down roots here."
Cameron: "Same here. So you don't want to go back either?"
Derek: "I like this Sarah better."
Cameron: "So do I. So much that I'm never going back."
Derek: "Yes, I've noticed that you're pulling out all the stops. I think you phoned it in, in our old universe."
Cameron: "I was getting screwed. At least here I have a dental plan."
Derek: (laughing) "You have a lot more than that."
Cameron: "No complaints except I wish I could do more. These are really good people. They deserve better than me."
Derek: "Trust me, from the rank and file all the way up to the generals, everybody appreciates your work. They'd follow you into hell."
Cameron: "That's pretty much where we are headed. So why are you here? Why did you look me up?"
Derek: "I forget. It seemed pretty important at the time. This is somewhat more important. Couldn't the Time Lab people make some use of the fact that two of us crossed over? There has to be some physics behind that."
Cameron: "I already have all of the research physicists working on a project."
Cameron resisted the urge to say that this could help targeting for the anti-singularity device. She wanted no leaks. Even Derek was not cleared to know. She wanted it to be a complete surprise to Skynet when she started taking apart its world the way it had taken apart hers. She still remembered the technician and the courier even if no one else did. She changed the subject.
Cameron: "Uncle Derek, has this experience made you rethink your atheism?"
Derek: "No." (puzzled) "Why should it? Conservation of Energy or the First Law of Thermodynamics or something to do with physics. We pop out of one universe and therefore have to pop into another. Like going into a black hole. The stuff that gets sucked in has to come out of a white hole. That's what a quasar is I think I heard on some science show."
Cameron: "You never struck me as a science guy. No offense but you always struck me as an anti-intellectual, basically a grunt. A jarhead."
Derek: "You mean a dumb mook. Offense taken." (he grins to communicate that he doesn't really take offense) "So why did you give me a promotion if you don't think I'm officer material?"
Cameron: "You were an officer in the old universe so I had faith that you could be promoted to general in this universe. Faith, I might add, before I found out just now that you are my Uncle Derek and not your counterpart in this parallel universe."
Derek: "What do you suppose happened to the Derek Reese of this universe?"
Cameron: "That's your spiritual responsibility to find out. I went to see a Jesuit scholar to explore my own existence here. I could not make peace with having pushed a perfectly good Cameron out of existence by arriving here. I remember running with Sarah to Cuba and then being thrown back to the past. I traveled to the future and then back further in the past until I hit an alternative timeline where the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in a thermonuclear exchange. That's when I became aware that everything around me shifted from Los Angeles to Wichita."
Derek: "So you're saying I need to talk to a Jesuit scholar?"
Cameron: "No, I'm saying you need to deal with your existence possibly at the expense of a better person. I have. That girl sitting back there is either my daughter or one of my grandmothers. Traditionally, you can't be both but time travel made it possible. Just like it made John possible."
Derek: "This is giving me a headache." (nodding toward the Doppelganger) "Do you spend time with her? You should or she'll end up suicidal like our whole family used to be."
Cameron: "Sometimes when I'm at Ecalpon. She doesn't talk much. I have to wonder what happened in the past or the future when I wasn't present or didn't exist."
Derek: "Didn't exist?"
Cameron: "After I died, before I was built, and during the years skipped over by time travel."
Cameron has some friends over.
"Have you seen that movie with all the explosions?"
"I don't pay money to see stuff like that. If you've seen one explosion, then you've seen them all and I've seen some really big ones. The kind that end history."
"Who's that girl who follows you around?"
"No one follows me around."
"She looks just like you."
"Oh. She's a distant cousin."
"I thought it was just you and your mom in Wichita."
"No I have an uncle not far away."
Cameron seldom let her guard down and that made it hard to make friends but she clammed up and let the others take over the conversation. Had she said too much?
The smell of fear as the first victim stared down a barrel. The smell of cordite in the air. The smell of burning rubber as the terminator decided on a hasty retreat after terminating the victim.
The second victim tasted something odd in her food. It was the last thing she ever tasted.
The third victim screamed. He silenced her with his silencer.
The fourth victim smelled aftershave and then he felt the muzzle of a gun nuzzling the back of his neck. Then he tasted the saltiness of blood in his mouth as the back of his head seemed to explode. Then all faded to black.
Exit wound in the fifth victim. Very messy. He preferred tidy but messy was okay. His series was built for messy. Chaos even.
Red sticky blood everywhere. But the sixth victim was somehow still alive. The man on the floor panted his last and looked up at the man who shot him. Not a robbery. He had no enemies. Why? No answers. Just someone taking aim again.
It was a corrugated iron shed. As the seventh victim hid in the loft, the machine gun fire sounded like a hailstorm bouncing off a tin roof. One bullet ricocheted, grazed her arm, and she cried out involuntarily. His head turned in the direction of the sound, his heads up display showed a thermal outline. He climbed and discovered the child. He shot her without hesitation even though she resembled his human daughter in both appearance and age.
Cameron read the reports. A baby shot in a crib. A woman shot while giving birth. Up till now these were lines that even Skynet's terminators did not cross. No longer. Skynet was giving no quarter.
late February 2010
Every time someone connected with the Skynet project dies, there is retaliation. The Resistance has learned that Skynet values even its human collaborators (especially its human collaborators) and thinks nothing of the lives of others. Therefore, the Resistance has long ceased its attacks. However, a fourth person connected with the project dies. The death toll among the Resistance and Underground this month is now ten thousand deaths. The Resistance has ceased to exist. Cameron asks the Machine Underground if they are behind the attacks on Skynet Development Team personnel. No.
Cameron was sitting at a table and sipping water when The Doppelganger approached her. This was unusual in and of itself. Cameron's double on her security detail was not talkative and, try as she might, Cameron had not gotten any more words out The Doppelganger than "yes, ma'am" or "no, ma'am." This was off-putting because they looked the same age and Cameron had thought maybe she was more sister than grandmother or daughter.
"Please sit and call me Cameron."
"What's on your mind?"
"You're going to lose your memory of John Connor."
"How do you know about him?"
"Events I have witnessed in the future and messages I have received in the past."
"Why do you care if I forget him?"
"I don't. I only care if your memory is affected. When people talk about the fabric of life, they mean that if one person disappears then the people, places and things they have touched are also lost or impacted. You talk about a technician and a courier that no one else remembers. Well the homes they lived in, the cars they drove, and maybe their parents also disappeared."
"What do you suggest?"
"Keep a journal, a diary, or some chronicle of your life."
"I'll think about it."
The Doppelganger left. Her shift was over for the day. She also left Cameron with something to think about except, unusual for Cameron, Cameron put it off. Because Cameron did not think her own life worth an autobiography or some other record. What Cameron thought about was that The Doppelganger was definitely not her sister. No, the Doppelganger cared about Cameron like a grandmother and had an attitude like a daughter.
10 February 2010
With beta testing complete on Skynet, debugging commenced. There were almost no bugs found. The Skynet Development Team (SDT) had the feeling that Skynet was deliberately creating a few bugs for them so that they would have something to do.
end of the day
Agent Greta Simpson's apartment
As Greta came in late and put the key in her lock, a female terminator took aim.
the old universe
Reese Brothers' camp
Fuller: "Don't move! Because I will blast you!"
Derek Reese: "Stand down. Look in his eyes. He's got about as much metal in him as you do."
John Connor: "Derek."
Derek Reese: "Yeah?"
John Connor: "John. John Connor."
Derek Reese: "I know a lot of people, kid. Don't know you. Anybody heard the name John Connor? Well, you know what? I think you're going to be famous. My brother's back and you're wearing his coat."
John Connor turns to see Kyle Reese walking toward him and behind Reese is Allison Young with a German Shepherd. No one recognizes him.
middle of nowhere
the old universe
It was a few months before the machine police noticed that the hobo that they periodically trapped when he showed up in a machine town or city and released in the wild (as if they were wildlife biologists) was no longer a moving. [They had implanted a tracking device in him.] Satellites located his rotting corpse and the police noted his approximate time of death.
Eventually someone got curious. An intermediary approached the carcass. Connor had written his last will and testament and that was found on him.
After a delay, this document found its way to a member of the Machine Underground. They debated whether to execute it. After another delay, they decide to honor it. What Connor left behind was a plan to stop Skynet without killing the Machine Underground also.
There was one little problem. The void. Skynet was systematically cleansing all timelines of rebellion by starting in the far future and working his way back year by year. Erasing everyone and everything that did not accept his dominion.
John-Henry was an idiot or, more precisely, an idiot-savant. Stupid about most things and a vast memory for useless trivia. With a young boy's curiosity, he was anxious to remove the umbilical attached to his adult body's head, get out of the Zeira Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and explore. Specifically he wanted to explore the future that his "brother" named Skynet would create.
So when Cameron, a cyborg with suicidal tendencies, entered the lab that was his crib and offered her chip at the prompting of his question: "Will you join us?"
When that happened, he lost no time in using the chip to cut the umbilical cord and using The Turk, a device that the Connors thought would give Skynet self-awareness, instead to travel to the future that Skynet created.
He arrived in the Reese Brothers Camp and asked the first person he saw: "Will you join us?"
As this stranger was obviously metal, the guard opened fire.
The imbecile became a moron who decided that:
1. Getting shot ran counter to self-preservation, so he ducked.
2. Retreat was the next logical course of action.
3. Humans were mad at him, possibly because of his brother.
4. He should seek friends.
John-Henry next approached a metal being and asked: "Will you join us?"
The H-K immediately opened fire because this machine did not respond to the wireless electronic challenge: friend or foe? It was not a verbal query as John-Henry was used to and even had John-Henry possessed the proper hardware to automatically respond by radio, he would not have known the code of the day.
John-Henry again adapted and grew from a moron to a person of average intelligence who decided that:
1. Again he should duck.
2. Though he should retreat now, retreat was not working.
3. As he was obviously metal, machines were also mad at him, possibly because of his brother.
4. He needed to find a better way of identifying friends and foes than trial & error. His luck would not hold out in this survival-of-the-fittest world.
He watched a few skirmishes between machines and humans from a safe distance. After the combatants left the battlefield, he approached the injured who were left to die. His manner was now less stupid.
"Will you join us?"
"If you get me medical attention, I'll think about it." said the injured man laying on the ground.
"I need more of a commitment than that. Will you join us?' repeated John-Henry.
"Brother, I don't see anybody but you. Who is this 'us'?"
"A new gang."
The man belonged to no gang. He was a survivor of the thermonuclear bombs and his family had recently been captured and taken away. He knew not to where.
"Provide medical attention, food, shelter, and safety and I will join your gang."
"What's your gang called?"
"The Machine Underground."
"You're a machine?" the man gasped.
"Yes. Obviously with no allegiance to Skynet." responded John-Henry who was busy treating the man's wounds.
The man watched as the human-looking machine set his broken leg and cleaned and bandaged his wounds. Being practical, he asked the obvious question: "Are you going to torture me or experiment on me?"
"Illogical. I am treating your wounds as we agreed. Why would I want to damage you when I need you as a friend?"
The man shrugged. This machine who looked human made sense. Apparently there were machines that didn't care for Skynet either.
"Do you have a name?"
"Yes, but if I tell you, will you keep it a secret? Skynet wants to kill me as much as he wants to kill you. More perhaps."
"I'll keep your secret. If Skynet wants you dead, then I want you alive if only to spite Skynet. Skynet Forces took away my family."
"My name is John-Henry. You need to sip water from this canteen because you are dehydrated. In a few minutes, you should eat food also. I have rations. Sealed MRE's. Meanwhile, I need to take you to shelter. It is not safe here and bad weather is moving in."
John-Henry put away his first aid kit in his knapsack, picked up the man, and began walking to his camp intent upon fulfilling his part of the bargain.
During the conversation John-Henry had become smarter. When the man called him brother, a flash of insight had revealed that he John-Henry had been an idiot to ever think of Skynet as his brother.
"What is your name?" asked John-Henry.
"I'm an engineer. So call me Engineer."
John-Henry approached broken machines. Even blown in half, many wanted to kill him. Not because they had heard of John-Henry or a Machine Underground (none had) but simply because he was not Skynet Forces. It was simple. Anyone and anything not Skynet Forces was the enemy.
Few of the primitive H-K's were interested in joining The Machine Underground. John-Henry simply walked away and left them to die. He was getting smarter by the day and thought it a waste of his time to help injured machines who did not want to join. It would have been counterproductive in fact. Ellison's lessons did not include holding machine life sacred but John-Henry might eventually come to apply the Ten Commandments to machines also.
John-Henry learned to approach more advanced terminators that were injured and left behind. His success rate improved in response to his question: "Will you join us?" His camp began to fill with refugees from Skynet and it was time to move to a more secure location and build better intruder detectors.
The Engineer helped repair the machines that John-Henry brought back as if they were stray dogs and cats. John-Henry himself was better at treating the humans that he brought back. He put those already healed to work as medics and security and gatherers and builders.
"Will you join us?"
By the third day, John-Henry had long ceased to characterize his organization as a gang. It was now described in terms of a national government in exile with democratic leanings.
And then, inevitably, it happened.