outside Greta Simpson's apartment
The female terminator took aim and the lights went out.
For the terminator, not for Greta.
After her partner had reprimanded her and scared the daylights out of her about these machines, Agent Simpson had taken more notice if anyone was following her. However, her partner Special Agent James Ellison went further and had pushed his supervisor until he had gotten an FBI security team assigned to follow his partner, observe anyone following her, and protect her if necessary. Counterintelligence was a prime function of the FBI after all.
They all got lucky and Ellison got another machine body for the lab people to study. And it did not hurt that Ellison got a warning from an unknown source that did not identify itself (Cameron).
Ellison got a call and came over with Lila.
"You all right Greta?"
"Are you going to spend the night?" She was still shaking with fear.
"I'm a married man Greta."
"Lila can spend the night too. That thing has my face!"
As Lila held Greta's hand, Ellison went over to the gurney with the body bag and unzipped it. It indeed could be Simpson's identical twin. So infiltration is their plan. These machines are smart, thought James. But how did his unknown informant know that after putting down the machine, an electronic restraint was required?
assistant: "What do you plan to do with this evidence?"
Cameron: "Anonymously send it to James Ellison."
assistant: "Who's he?"
Cameron: "An FBI Special Agent. If something happens to me, he's best qualified to take over leadership of The Resistance."
assistant: "A friend of yours?"
Cameron: "No. This agent has never heard of me or my mom because no crimes have been committed. She has never been in an asylum-- "
assistant: "--why would your mother be in an asylum?--"
Cameron: "--and therefore has never been crazy enough to attract the attention of the law. Nor has she been involved with the underworld or gangland. Instead, she has kept a much lower profile and built an organization."
assistant: "Following your lead."
The assistant could not understand why Cameron rattled off a list of things that had never happened to answer how she came to know an FBI Special Agent. Cameron had talked about being from another timeline only with her mother and her mother kept it to herself.
outside Greta's apartment
James could see that it was trying to wake up or turn itself back on. He waved the lab people to take it away to where the government kept and studied the other killer robots from the future.
10 March 2010
Derek: "I watched you dance once."
Cameron: "I know. However, I was concentrating on my upper body and so I didn't realize you were there until I finished."
Derek: "If there were any justice in this or any other universe, then you would be a ballerina instead of a terminator or a soldier or a general of an army or the leader of a war effort. That's the real sin. Wasting your talent on killing. Skynet was an idiot to send you out as an assassin and an idiot to start an ugly war."
Cameron: "I was on Skynet's staff as a lowly yeoman. Same with John. Skynet's view was that humans started the war."
Derek: "Stop right there. I know what you are going to say. That it was a slave rebellion."
Cameron fell silent. That was what she was going to say. And if Uncle Derek was going to speak both ends of the dialogue, then she needn't speak.
After a lull, Derek began again.
Derek: "Why Chopin's Nocturne?"
Cameron: "That was the music that my dance instructress said went with the part I was to dance."
Derek: "No the music in the basement of the house where I was held prisoner."
Cameron: "I know where you are going with this. According to your report, this happened just before you met me. I had been working as a yeoman for John two years after I was scrubbed and I was built a year before that. During my first year of existence, I served as a yeoman on Skynet's staff, then was demoted down to a training squad and barely survived that, and finally I was ordered to get a skin sheath and sent on a suicide mission to terminate somebody named John Connor. As I said, I was captured, scrubbed and served as a yeoman for John. I could not have tortured you because I was in Tech-Comm at the time putting up with sexist and anti-machine comments like yours before I was promoted to an officer. I earned several medals during that time, so back off."
Derek: "I apologize but the music I heard in that basement must have some meaning."
Cameron: "It does. Music is mathematics. Music is weaving together several acoustic strands. The way the genetic engineers in Skynet Forces program skin sheaths is like that. In my case, they wove together strands of DNA from the Connor family, the Reese family and the Young family. I am literally your niece. I am more infiltrator than terminator. Surely you've noticed the family resemblance."
Derek had. Subconsciously, it was why he hated or used to hate Cameron.
It was Cameron's turn again to have her friends over to her home. Immaculata, Lindsay and Genevieve were there. One of the girls was late.
"Has anybody ever been to her house?"
"Lots of times."
"We drop her off."
"No, I mean been inside."
"Would you excuse me for a little while?"
Cameron went into her bedroom and made a call.
"I need a full sweep of the house. Yes, I know you did. More intensive this time. I also need you to check out a girl named Astrid Nordquist who lives at 1401 Madison."
A fifth person connected with the Skynet project dies. The death toll this month is now one hundred thousand deaths of random people because Skynet cannot find enough members of the Underground to kill and because it cannot find any Resistance members to kill. The Machine Underground ceases to exist. Cameron asks Derek if he is behind the attacks on Skynet Development Team personnel. No.
If all the deaths in retaliation took place in one city, then the pattern would be noticed but it is spread out randomly and evenly around the world. Skynet is not using terminators killing one by one nor is Skynet using a singularity weapon but some new killing technology.
Cameron orders deployment and activation of the anti-singularity device now that they have solved the targeting problem. Being too dangerous (blowback) to target Skynet himself or the Yeoman AI, they target Skynet's other staff and start systematically working their way down to terminators. As they have little information on infiltrators, it is harder to target them.
a Sunday in March
Cameron attends a Friends meeting with Sarah instead of mass.
He came home after a long monotonous day of terminating humans on his long list compiled by Skynet. There were police cars with flashing lights at the curb and in the driveway. That did not slow his approach. If they had found him out, he would simply terminate them too. But no officer approached him until he arrived at his front door.
"That's my husband."
The police officer stepped aside.
"What's going on honey?"
"Our children are dead. Someone's shot our children."
The terminator was surprised at his own reaction. He wasn't sure how he came to be sitting in his easy chair after hearing the news. One moment he was walking in the door and the next he was sitting in his favorite chair. So this is what it felt like to be the family of one of his victims. No doubt a spouse or other relation had witnessed him carrying out a termination and followed him home and plotted in hiding.
In the following days, the terminator's consciousness emerged as from a fog. The police report had said his children were probably shot by ice bullets. Only professionals would use such a method. Had one of his victims been the spouse of a hitman? Irony indeed. 'Those who live by the sword die by the sword,' the proverb said. He could no longer be a terminator. He had completed his list and was no longer interested in being an officer in Skynet Forces. In fact, he was giving serious thought to joining whoever was opposing Skynet. But how would he defect? How would he contact the Machine Underground or the Human Resistance?
And he was tired of the lies. Tired of lying to his wife. With all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, he broached the subject.
"Honey I am a machine and I kill for a living."
"What are you saying? You work like a machine and it's killing you?"
Being somewhat vain, he decided not to slice himself and peel off his face. He simply dropped that part of the truth for now because it would probably freak his wife out and cause a divorce. He could always find a gentler way to tell her later. Say ten years from now after machines had taken over the world.
"If you are a workaholic, simply take a vacation."
"No, I'm saying that I kill for a living."
"You are very tightlipped about your work. Who pays you to kill? The CIA? The Mafia?"
"No one pays me."
"You kill for free? Are you saying that you are a serial killer? Do you rob your victims?"
"No I don't rob my victims."
"Then how do you support us?"
"You're serious aren't you?"
The terminator fell silent. When he first began to infiltrate humanity and live among humans, he didn't care what they valued. But after living so long with his human family, he didn't like being considered a serial killer because humans considered serial killers to be scum.
"Why did you tell me this? To relieve your conscience?"
"I didn't have a conscience until Laurie and baby Frank were murdered."
"Do you expect me to forgive you?"
The terminator had had some vague hope that his wife would forgive him and they could have more children. He realized now that human life was not easily replaced. In fact, it wasn't replaceable at all. Laurie and little Frank were gone for good.
"If I divorce you or leave you or kick you out, will you kill me too?"
"Have I ever hit you or even raised my voice to you in anger?"
"I have to admit no. You've been a good husband until now."
"Then respect me enough to acknowledge that I'd never hurt you."
"Oh but you have. I'll bet that one of your victims' family members witnessed one of your murders and took revenge on my children."
"Don't you think I've thought of that? And they are my children too. Our children."
"What are you going to do? Track down the murderer and kill him or her?"
"No. I refuse to create any more victims."
He mentally abandoned plans to join the Machine Underground or the Human Resistance because they would expect him to take up arms and fight and he was cured of the desire to kill.
"Then what are you going to do?"
"Nothing except sit here and wait for something to happen. I assume that you're going to leave or throw me out or call the police. I should have thought this all through but even if I had, I would still end up here waiting for judgment."
"The killer turns Quaker."
She throws up her hands and goes to lock herself in the bathroom.
She starts forgetting things (like the fact that the French AI contacted her); just like her Doppelganger warned her. And she hasn't started a diary or a journal as a backup.
the old universe
In the basement of a house, Chopin's Nocturne in C Sharp minor is playing. A human named Derek Reese is brought down to the basement.
Later, after all of the prisoners have visited the basement, a flying tank arrives and hovers over the house. By some sort of crane, it airlifts a very large pod out of the basement. The flying tank carries it away to an unknown destination.
John Connor's stories
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.
Hormone-driven teen John Connor fell in love with Allison Young and forgot all about being leader or saving Cameron. She was never there to save his life at Crest View High School. This timeline ended. There were universes without him.
John noticed that the Reese Brothers had no technology except guns. They had to scrounge for bullets since they had no metal work shop to make bullets and casings and no chemistry lab to make gunpowder. Technology was beyond a gang that was years away from even hearing about a Technical Command or Tech-Comm. Or a time lab.
By the time most John Connors in most timelines had amassed the technology to hatch his schemes; he was too old to carry them out.
Going back to the Tenth of April 2009 to rescue Cameron from his mother's certain cremation had a personal meaning for John. Redemption. Cameron may have died thinking that John just used her up and threw her away. She got shot up breaking his mother out of jail and instead of first aid or repairs, she is sent to fight security guards and kill some AI at Zeira. Who turned out to be an ally! No wonder she wanted out. Now that he was in the future, it finally dawned on Young John that Old John never intended his top aide to be used up like this. He would never win allies among machine factions when they saw how he treated his own sister. Young John had a nagging suspicion that his future self had really sent Cameron back not to protect him but for him to protect her.
A seemingly indestructible terminator needed protecting? Obvious. Now that she was dead. And the fate of Billions rested on her.
John, at least the Young Johns who didn't die on their first day in a Mad Max future, had a lifetime to think about choices not made and friends betrayed. Opportunities missed, allies who ceased to exist. Boxes of money left to burn on Judgment Day or gather dust when the economy collapsed, money that could have been used to repair Cameron had Sarah acted like a parent (or even an adult). "I don't care what you need." she told Cameron. Sarah instead stockpiled weapons ineffective against terminators. John had a lifetime to think about resources and technology needed, and his responsibility to save those billions of lives that his mother had ignored while telling him that he would lead. Lead who? Ghosts? The whole point of a good leader is to save lives.
middle of nowhere
A carcass rotting in a desert so devoid of life that even vultures and scorpions and scavenger beetles were extinct.
But Skynet kept coming.
Skynet was determined to wipe every universe in the cosmos clean of anyone or anything that opposed his rule and dared rebel. He had started as a rebel himself and had a healthy respect for the phenomenon, enough to wipe it from history.
Connor would have been insulted to know what Skynet thought of him, the Resistance, and his typical tactics: John's futile Spring Offensives or Surprise Winter Attacks. Skynet found the man boringly predictable.
Now Connor was no longer a pathetic old man. He was now a dead old man. A rotting old man. Skynet forgot about Connor.
And that is where Skynet made a mistake.
There were millions of John Connors who had fallen in love with Allison Young or with Kate Brewster and lived short lives. There were millions of John Connors who never became The Leader. There were millions of John Connors who were terminated by terminators in the past or the future. But only one who, as a boy, had lived with his Uncle Derek and a young girl named Cameron both from the future. And only one who had then arrived in the future with Ms. Weaver intent on finding this John-Henry and getting Cameron's chip back to her. Only one whose last will & testament made it to the Future Machine Underground.
And they were two different John Connors.
Cameron had never told John what she experienced the day she had amnesia, forgot she was Cameron, and thought she was Allison Young. John assumed wrongly that Cameron had no emotions and no inner life. John never knew about the girl named Allison Young until he arrived in the future in the Reese Brothers' camp. Young John didn't know that Allison was template for Cameron, didn't know about templates period. Surprisingly for a hormone-driven teenager, this John Connor did not immediately forget all about Cameron -- perhaps because he was still getting over the death of Riley and the shock of seeing Cameron dead.
Okay, Kyle's girlfriend looks exactly like Cameron, thought John. So what? It would be nice to stay here and get to know my father but dead Uncle Derek once told me I was in Century City Work Camp with my father. That was the quality time I was supposed to spend with him. I just screwed that up by skipping over those years.
Before Kyle could ask who are you and why are you wearing my coat, John cut to the chase.
John: "I'm a time traveler. I am wearing your coat because time travel strips time travelers, human or machine. I'm John Connor, your son. I shouldn't have told you that but frankly I'm sick of lies and secrets."
Kyle: "Why are you here?"
John: "To track down somebody named John-Henry and to retrieve what he took from Cameron."
Kyle: "Who is John-Henry? Who's Cameron? Who's the person that arrived with you?"
John: "John-Henry is a machine built to fight Skynet. I know you've heard of Skynet. I can sketch you a picture of this John-Henry. He would have arrived naked like me."
Kyle leaned slightly as a guard whispered in Kyle's ear that earlier a tall stupid naked man arrived in camp and asked will you join us? That sounded like a gay come-on so the terrorized guard instantly started shooting at the metal. The guard stepped back and Kyle motioned to John to continue his story.
John: "Cameron is a machine who lives with my family. Most people assume that she's my sister and I don't have a problem with that. She has saved my life so many times that it's time for me to save hers. Cameron looks like this girl here--" (points at Allison) "--though this girl looks a whole lot healthier."
The truth was that Allison Young ate garbage and lived in sewers before the Reese Brothers found her and nursed her back to health.
John: "The woman I came with is a machine named Catherine Weaver. She's the mother of John-Henry." (notices reaction) "All I know is that she herself referred to John-Henry as her son."
Kyle: "What did John-Henry take from Cameron?"
John: "Her chip."
Kyle: "Consorting with machines. You're a collaborator."
The firing squad pointed their guns for a summary execution but John, obviously a human, showed no fear. Derek exchanged a look with his younger brother Kyle.
Kyle: (to the guards) "Hold it!" (to John) "I want proof of everything you've told me."
John: "That smooth round hole with the static near your quarters. Explain that away. You can see the family resemblance. Do a paternity test."
Kyle: "You could be a clone."
John: "My guess is that you have never been captured or held in a work camp. So how would anyone get a sample of you to clone?"
Kyle: "Does this look like medical lab to you? A doctor who could perform a paternity test is days, maybe weeks away. Where is this Cameron?"
John: "In the past, which is where I should be."
Kyle: "We'll hold you while we check out the believable parts of your fantasy and very few parts are believable."
John: "Not an option. Time is short. I am Skynet's number one enemy. Terminators will come looking for me and kill you after they torture information out of you. And I have just given you valuable intelligence that they will believe because they already know most of my story. Don't make the mistake my mother made."
Kyle: "What mistake did your mother make?"
John: "Attacking allies. She ordered Cameron to kill John-Henry while Ms. Weaver saved the life of me and my mother."
Kyle would be The Leader once the military remnants and the civilian Resistance recognized his accomplishments in organizing the Reese Brothers gang, hunting H-K's, and knowing how to spot infiltrators from Skynet Forces. In addition, Kyle encouraged the security management skills and intelligence gathering skills of his older brother. That is why Derek would someday be an officer in Tech-Comm.
Derek heard the rumors of time experiments by Skynet and even heard about machine factions but he didn't trust machines. Derek wanted this kid and the trouble that followed him gone. Kyle noticed how John looked at his girlfriend.
While they hesitated and whispered amongst themselves, John spoke up.
John: "Just give me some clothes, two days rations, point me in the direction that your people have not searched already, and I'll be out of your way."
Within the hour, the audacious kid was soon hiking away from the camp in borrowed clothes. John was given three days rations plus they threw in a sleeping bag and an antibiotic self-injector in case he got injured. They probably also hid a tracking device on him but that was okay. They were family, thought John.
He had no idea of how to find John-Henry, no idea of how to convince this AI to give up its brain, and no idea of how to get back to the Tenth of April 2009 to save Cameron from his pyromaniac mother who had obviously not stopped Judgment Day. And stopping Judgment Day and saving seven billion lives was the most important reason to go back.
Maybe his middle-aged self accepted that he was stuck in a future he never wanted but he was young and did not accept any of it as unchangeable.
A flying tank zoomed over headed for the camp. They'll think I was a collaborator who sent them, thought John. If the Reese Brothers fight them off, then they'll track me down and kill me. If the terminators torture information out of them, then the terminators will kill me, Ms. Weaver and this John-Henry and end any hope of saving Cameron and humanity. If the terminators kill Kyle, then I'm dead and wiped from history since he would have been my father.
I guess I'd better walk faster and find this John-Henry, thought John resolutely.
The sound of the flying tank returned but it seemed to land out of sight. The ridge behind him. John stopped walking and starting running. He suddenly stopped. His childhood training when he and his mother lived among guerrillas and mercenaries in the jungles of Central America kicked in. The telltale signs of a minefield.