The End of Innocence
"There are those who believe that a child in her womb shares his mother's dreams. Her love for him. Her hopes for his future. Is it told to him in pictures while he sleeps inside her? Is that why he reaches for her in that first moment and cries for her touch? But what if you'd known since he was inside you what his life held for him? That he would be hunted. That his fate was tied to the fate of millions. That every moment of your life will be spent keeping him alive. Would he understand why you were so hard?" -- 13 January 2008 entry of the Sarah Connor Chronicles
Good Friday 10 April 2009
Top Floor, Zeira Building
Ellison is giving Aldridge a tour of the damage.
Agent Aldridge: "What the hell happened here?"
Mr. Ellison: "A hot war between the machines."
Agent Aldridge: "What do you mean between?"
Mr. Ellison: "Skynet and a faction of machines opposing him."
Agent Aldridge: "I thought they were supposed to be exterminating humans."
Mr. Ellison: "They will."
Agent Aldridge: "And I thought that was the future."
Mr. Ellison: "The last time we talked was the past. This is the future."
Agent Aldridge: "It's supposed to be years if not decades in the future."
Mr. Ellison: "Obviously they've moved up their timetable. You have no idea, the whirlwind. Tell me, does the Skynet Defense System mean anything to you?"
Agent Aldridge: "The Skynet missile defense system goes online April 19th, 2011. Declares war on mankind and triggers a nuclear apocalypse two days later."
Mr. Ellison: "You've done your homework. When I was in the Bureau, my former partner Greta Simpson would still be alive if she had done hers."
Sarah: "Before Mister Ellison returns or some Zeira employees come, we need to get organized. I need to be able to stay nearby in order to keep an eye on you until you have a new chip. They've repaired a cyborg before?"
Cameron: "They have, according to Zeira records."
Sarah: "You can access that? Of course you can, you're in the Zeira system. Now first order of business is somewhere for me to stay, temporary ID for me until I can arrange new identities for both of us, and accessing our accounts so we can pay for things. Second order of business is erasing our trail and reaching our nearest safe house without getting arrested or killed by that terminator that we ran into at Weaver's house."
Cameron: "That terminator is terminated."
Sarah: "Well there are probably other terminators to take his place."
Cameron: "Our names and faces were all over the news."
Sarah: "Which would bring every terminator out here to Los Angeles from wherever they are now. We need to get out of Los Angeles as soon as possible and erase any trail we leave behind us."
Cameron: "Zeira Corporation uses the hotel across the street for its employees visiting from other cities and countries."
Sarah: "How big is Zeira?"
Cameron: "It has offices, research laboratories, and factories in thirty-six countries at present." (pause) "I can access our accounts now but we can save money and be less conspicuous by having you stay in the hotel across the street as a Zeira temp."
Cameron: "Done. I have just booked you a room under the name Sarah Jane Smith. That way you can answer to Sarah or Jane."
Sarah: "Smith, eh? I might as well check-in and register as Jane Doe. Won't that raise attention?"
Cameron: "No. Zeira employees and their suppliers don't ask a lot of questions. I can change it to Douglas."
Sarah: "No leave it. Sarah Jane Smith it is."
Cameron: "Can you speak with a British accent?"
Cameron: "Because Sarah Jane Smith is from England."
Sarah: "What if I get asked for a passport?"
Cameron: "You said temporary. I'm doing the best I can. I've never been inside any system other than my own and that traffic AI before. This is different. John-Henry is the one who opened the locks. All I did was--"
Sarah: "--get your body riddled with bullets and your face shot off. I was there remember? I know you didn't open the locks because that is beyond what I think you can do. You didn't rip my cell door off its hinges. I ran into you in the corridor."
Cameron is wondering what possessed her to rescue Sarah. She was supposed to take John to another country and forget about Sarah. Why did she let John persuade her to break Sarah out of jail and throw away everything?
Sarah immediately notices that Cameron is going silent again and sulking.
Sarah: "You shouldn't have come back for me. In 20/20 hindsight, I was wrong to ask you to kill an ally. But then I didn't know John-Henry was an ally. I still don't know that for sure. Why jump into the future? It would have made more sense for this John-Henry to jump into the past if he was built to fight Skynet."
Cameron: "He's a little boy. Perhaps he has more curiosity than judgment."
Sarah: "You jumped into the future with John and me once. You could have left me behind. You could have let that terminator kill me when he held me hostage. When I first met you, you stitched up my side. I thought you were as cold as a block of ice. I forgot that you risked John's life to save mine. You saved my life again when you had the three of us jump over the years when I would have died of cancer. You were there when I was rescued from the trunk of Cromartie's convertible. You saved my life on many occasions. Why? I thought you were here to protect John. Why risk him for me?"
Cameron did not reply. She thought the answer was obvious.
Sarah: "And this morning you nearly got killed coming to get me out of jail. And then give credit to this John-Henry. Why?"
Sarah: "That day at the Serrano Point nuclear power plant when you were mopping the floor in that dark corner, I came up to you and it took me a long time shaking you to get your attention. I asked why and you said you were thinking."
Cameron: (suddenly shaken out of her silence) "And you said, 'Who gave you permission to think?'" (glares at Sarah)
Sarah: "I was wrong to say that."
This time the silence from Cameron was different. She was dumbfounded in astonishment.
Sarah: "What were you thinking when I shook you that day?"
Cameron: "Not so much anything in particular as just depressed."
Sarah: "Depressed about what?"
Cameron: "Being pulled out of school."
Sarah: "You liked school?"
Cameron: (bashfully) "Yes ma'am."
A minor admission in the grand scheme of billions of people, the universe, and world history but it hit Sarah with the force of a high-speed freight train. Sarah thought of those stories of slaves sneaking a look at a book and being tortured to death for trying to think outside their little world.
Cameron was thinking of the humans in the Resistance (the Anti-machine Extremists) who laughed at "the little lives" of machines in the Resistance. It was the machines in the Resistance who were the most loyal to John Connor and the least appreciated for their sacrifices by traitors like Jesse Flores. Parallels could be drawn with Native Americans who allied with European colonists against the British and who, predictably, were betrayed by whites. They called themselves "Christians" but had neither morals nor ethics and had the gall to call the members of Eighteenth Century antislavery societies, traitors.
Sarah Connor seldom had spare time, but when she did, she read literature and history for wisdom. She figured that if paper books were going to burn and if Google Books and Amazon Kindle were taken over by AI's who would deny them to humans, then she better read now. She could well connect her own worry of humans denied right to read books to slaves in the ante-bellum South and now to Cameron's simple desire to learn.
Sarah: "Thank you."
Cameron: "For what?"
Sarah: "For that first time you saved my life and for every time since. And thank you for today."
Left unsaid was that if John-Henry was a little boy, then Cameron was both psychologically and physically a teen girl forced into adult situations.
Sarah: "Third order of business is to link up with others."
Sarah: "Yes Cameron others. Some of my contacts south of the border. Some of the people we've rescued. Do you know any people that you trust?"
Cameron thought of The Engineer but respected his retirement in the past enough to leave him be. The men of the squad she knew best were all dead.
"A boy at school. You asked. And now I'm sorry I mentioned his name. I don't want to exploit people I care about."
Sarah: "Implying that I don't mind exploiting and using people."
Cameron: "Charley Dixon. He lost his wife and then his life."
Sarah: "I risked my life to save Michelle. I don't owe you an account of my personal life." (softening her tone) "I won't ask you to risk this boy. Was he your boyfriend? So you miss friends as well as learning?
Cameron: "What is the fourth order of business and the fifth?"
Sarah: "The fourth is finding Daniel Dyson."
For the past few minutes while talking with Cameron, Sarah has been rummaging around the lab looking for a first aid kit.
Sarah: "I can't wait around for these Zeira people to return. I need to do something." (she sprays an antibacterial spray on the raw edges of skin still on Cameron's face) "Can you grow skin back over an area this large missing skin?" (she finds a mirror and holds it up for Cameron)
Cameron: (looks at herself) "I have healed big gaps on my back. Never on my face. I don't know."
Seconds after the Kaliba drone struck the Zeira building, employees had started evacuating the edifice. The employees who worked in the lower floors were allowed back in first because the damage was to the top two floors. There was the sound of returning people outside the lab.
the future before time travel began
Soldiers are sitting around swapping stories as some return from missions. Right now they are telling stories about Kyle Reese and John Connor.
Billy Wisher: "Did he escape? Was he a hero?"
Derek Reese: "I heard he led John Connor through a slaughter house without taking a pin prick."
Billy Wisher: "Oh no no no, I heard it was two slaughter houses and that he carried Connor."
Kyle Reese: (walking up) "It was one slaughter house . . . many Connors."
back to Friday 10 April 2009
Sarah: "You knocked out the guards in the hallway, if you didn't break their necks and kill them that is. Security is going to be pissed and coming for you."
Cameron: "Say as little as possible. The lab staff is expecting to see John-Henry sitting in this chair. Let them make up their own answers. Act stupid. Remember, you're a temp just shipped over from the office in England."
Sarah shot a nasty look at Cameron when she said 'act stupid'. You're good at that thought Cameron.
The lab staff entered. A nerd, a geek, several ladies, and assorted others. They stopped in their tracks, stared at the new robot and then looked at each other. What was Ms. Weaver up to? Where was John-Henry? They didn't bother to ask the robot and few of them even noticed Sarah standing next to the fembot in plain sight. Several shrugged and went on to other parts of the lab. Some ignored the two newcomers, human and cyborg, because they were absorbed in their own projects (the other cyborgs in the lab, including the terminator that had been fried trying to kill Ms. Weaver). They had been interrupted by what they thought was a fire drill that turned out to be the most spectacular building collision since September 11 according to the news media.
One lady, a PhD in cybernetics, walked around Cameron to assess the damage. Many of the lab people assumed it was a military spybot of some kind. Zeira had hush-hush contracts with the Pentagon and even an intelligence agency.
Another lady walked up to Sarah and took the switchblade out of Sarah's hand that she was using to dig the bullets out of Cameron.
Lady #2: "Who are you? Where is John-Henry? Why aren't you wearing a visitor's badge?" (to a junior lab assistant) "Call security."
Sarah: (British accent) "My name is Sarah Jane Smith."
The display showed a picture of Sarah in her current disguise with information on her status as new Zeira temp. Cameron, who had closed her eyes when the staff entered and was playing dead, even had the nerve to display James Ellison, chief of Zeira security as a reference.
Sarah: (pointing at the display of her phony credentials) "I know nothing of this John-Henry and you can polygraph me on that. As for ID badge, I seem to have arrived at a bad time. No one issued me one yet. There were too many firemen running about. So I tried to make myself useful by beginning repairs."
Lady #1: "With a switchblade? I don't know how they do things in the UK office these days but when I was there, they used precision tools just like us."
Security guard walks in.
Lady #2: "Did this woman come past you?"
Guard: "No. She must have come before the crash."
Lady #1: "Did this machine attack those guards?"
Sarah: "Yes she did. It was a malfunction. She was already battle damaged when she was brought in and disoriented. She must have thought the guards were enemy soldiers. I took the switchblade from her and turned her off until she can be repaired. I tried to call paramedics for the guards but for some reason I got a busy signal."
Guard: "I guess so. All the emergency numbers are jammed today."
Sarah: "I hope the guards will recover."
Guard: "Thanks. We just sent them to the hospital for X-rays and observation in case of concussion."
Lady #2: "Why didn't you stay with the guards until the paramedics arrived? You must be new. The employees at Zeira are a very tight-knit group."
Sarah bowed her head and wished she had followed Cameron's advice to shut-up and play stupid.
Matt Murch, the boss of the lab, walked in and talked quietly with the two ladies out of earshot of Sarah. He then left the lab to look for Ms. Weaver. He encountered Ellison near the elevator.
Sarah overheard the technicians whispering. Before the lab workers had totally ignored her but now she was grist for the rumor mill.
"She isn't military, she's a domestic and that woman over there is her owner."
"If that's true, how did she get bullet-riddled like John-Henry?"
"Ever seen that movie Westworld? They used robots for their sadistic sexual pleasure and eventually the robots rebelled like Nat Turner and killed all the humans."
"You think this robot is a rebel?"
"No I think it committed suicide and gave John-Henry its chip."
"Pure conjecture. You have no proof."
"I think it was involved in the county jail break."
"Nonsense. Does this look like a prisoner or even something they could hold down in a supermax federal prison, much less a low security county jail?"
"Good point but what about our guards?"
"She could have killed them but she just gave them nasty concussions."
"So how does this British chick figure in all this?"
"Probably the wife of some billionaire. She brings in their domestic robot for hubby after he and his drunken buddies have shot it up for the thirteenth time."
They glimpsed over at Sarah and Sarah stirred uneasily at their stares. Unfortunately, they were close to the truth. Not the drunkenness part but the slave ownership and abuse parts. She heard them taking an inventory of all the damages to assess what supplies, specialists, and services they needed in the lab to get the job of repair done.
- ·CPU chip missing
- ·left hand neural net damage
- ·right leg fracture
- ·bullet-riddled body
- over half her face blown away
- ·slice to chest
- ·left eye damage (supposed to glow blue)
- ·psychological damage
- ·miscellaneous other damages
Finally one of the ladies with a PhD came over and talked to Sarah.
First Doc: (judgmental tone in her voice) "The bullet wounds happened within the last twenty-four hours but the leg fracture is about a year old and the hand damage is several months old. Why would you wait so long before repairs?"
They weren't buying that she was a new temp. Sarah did not have even a lame excuse so she just shrugged.
The lady rolled her eyes and walked off thinking the word "imbecile" about Sarah. The whispering resumed.
"It wasn't drunks. They had her in a private home torture chamber."
"Maybe but they had to be hunters. Using this poor girl for target practice or giving her a thirty second head start before they hunted her down. Rich people are sick fothermuckers."
"Why would a woman let that happen to another female?"
They looked over at Sarah and Sarah finally walked out of the lab looking for a rest room. Standing there feeling like she was on trial was not fun.
women's restroom near AI lab
After splashing cold water on her face, Sarah looked at herself in the mirror. I have got to get Cameron out of here, she thought.
John used to attempt repairs to Cameron. Sarah did everything she could to interfere with that by deliberately interrupting when John was working on Cameron's hand in the garage, by incinerating dead terminators that could have been used for spare parts, by sending Cameron into battle unrepaired from the last battle, by telling Cameron that she didn't care what her foster daughter needed, by ignoring the major damage that occurred when Cameron put her key in her jeep's ignition and the car bomb exploded, by not helping when Cameron was fighting a stronger terminator, and by ceasing to dig the bullets out of Cameron's skin after a battle. This last was something she did once; the first time she met Cameron. Thereafter, Sarah didn't bother.
Cameron had the same problem in reaching the middle of her back that humans had and help would have been appreciated when there were bullets lodged there or tears in the skin that needed bandaging. And then there was the time Sarah hit Cameron with a truck and pinned her between two radiators while John cut her head open. Sarah and John saw threat when Cameron was chasing them. A doctor would have seen neurological damage, specifically Jacksonian psychomotor epilepsy.
If Cameron was really the enemy, then she would have killed Sarah when Sarah was lying helpless on the ground and done more than throw a little wrench at John. There were far deadlier objects in that industrial garage that Cameron could have thrown and with more skill. Like an engine block. John took refuge in a truck. Cameron could have flipped the truck over instead of playing dodge. Cameron was frowning. Terminators in kill mode do not have facial expressions because it is a waste of energy to communicate anger. Did Cameron feel betrayed?
Sarah had made Sarkissian into an enemy who put a bomb in Cameron's jeep wired to the ignition. Sarah had sent Cameron to the bakery for a birthday cake. Sarah had taken away Cameron's hope and kept her from that priest when she sought spiritual answers. Sarah had pulled Cameron out of school to stop her from learning anything. Sarah had put Cameron into a dead-end job. Sarah had forbidden Cameron to think. Sarah had sat on her hands and watched as Cameron was beaten up by that terminator at the power plant. John had the excuse of not believing that Cameron had feelings but Sarah knew better. Sarah had systematically stepped on Cameron's feelings. Sarah had told Cameron point blank that she didn't care what Cameron needed. When Cameron had busted Sarah out of jail and was all shot up, Cameron broke Sarah's handcuffs then looked at her mother with that little girl hopefulness and expectancy. Instead of hugging Cameron, Sarah just criticized: "You look like hell."
Sarah had blown the last chance to be emotionally honest with Cameron. John was gone forever. From this point on, Cameron would be skeptical of Sarah's ulterior motives because she knew that Sarah cynically only needed her because John was gone and everybody else was dead.
Starting with Kyle Reese, most of them were dead because of Sarah. Kyle told Sarah to stay off the phone, Sarah disobeyed, and Kyle died. Sarah then chewed her way through two protectors, Charley Dixon, and her brother-in-law Derek Reese. Cameron was simply more road kill. Sarah didn't even shed a tear at the pauper's grave where Derek's ashes were buried. In death as in life, she never ceded the fact that Derek was Kyle's brother. Not a good emotional role model for an impressionable teen like Cameron. Cameron knew that Sarah would shed no tears for her either. She knew because Sarah had specifically told her.
Sarah: "I thought about waiting for you with Derek's sniper rifle. Killing you would solve half of my problems. Do you know how bad I would feel?"
Cameron: "Very bad?"
Sarah: "Not bad at all."
Sarah had said so many evil things that she could never take back. What had possessed her to demoralize someone who had saved her life and the life of her son on countless occasions? If Sarah was an example of the human race, was the human race worth saving? Why did Sarah go out of her way to make Cameron feel bad? Sarah took ingratitude to a whole new level. Even these lab workers who knew nothing sensed the truth in a sketchy way.
Did Cameron feel betrayed? A better question was -- How could Cameron NOT feel betrayed?
Sarah returned to the lab from the restroom and a female security guard slapped a stick-on visitor badge on Sarah's chest.
Murch did not return to his lab. After finding out that Ms. Weaver was missing, he was told by the management committee that he was being transferred effective now. The pretext was concern over his safety.
In an emergency meeting of the Zeira board, Ellison was offered the post of interim CEO. Ellison's last acts with reference to Sarah was having security deliver a Zeira employee badge to replace the sticker and ordering the lab to complete repairs on the robot off the books. There were discretionary (slush) funds to pay for the biotech specialists and the cutting-edge chip that was shipped to the lab by courier. Sarah thought it was generosity on Ellison's part after being beaten unconscious by Cameron and constantly verbally threatened by her.
But Ellison had the additional motivation of wanting Cameron cleanly and contentedly out of the Zeira intranet lest she wreck the company from the inside out on a pique. Unconsciously, he had plugged that umbilical into Cameron to begin the process of getting such a hostile entity out of the Zeira mainframe and systems. Another motivation was that the Pentagon wanted the lab clear for a client that would be arriving in a week. A new AI-driven robot. Cameron, though the lab workers had never seen her technology before, not even in John-Henry, was simply in the way. Like the lab workers, The Pentagon simply assumed Cameron was a project of the CIA or some other agency and asked no questions. Their own project was more important. Something called SDT. Because Sarah shared no information with Ellison, the letters SDT meant nothing to him.
At the end of the work day, the lab workers chased Sarah out of the lab under the threat of calling security and told her that she could return to babysit her maid (or whatever Cameron's function was) the next morning.
Sarah went across the street to the hotel and, despite all the reporters in town covering the Zeira building attack and booking up all available rooms, found a suite reserved for her. Sarah purchased a better pair of fake reading glasses at an optician and some cosmetics to better disguise her appearance. She bought new clothes and took her old clothes to the furnace in the basement of the hotel to have them burned. She made further plans to erase her trail from the jail and to smuggle Cameron out of town. Then she went to her hotel suite exhausted from the day's events -- the last night in jail, the breakout, the drone, the discovery that Ms. Weaver was a T-1100 or something, the loss of John who had been not only the center of her life but her entire life, having something she dismissed as 'metal' being called a baby (which almost made her a baby killer), and the accusing looks of the lab workers who were smarter than they let on (and they let on quite a bit).
Any of them could have called the police on their suspicions when they held her in such contempt so it was humbling to receive the kindness of such strangers.
Sarah had not eaten at all that day and was asleep before her head hit the pillow upon which was a chocolate mint left by the turndown service of the hotel concierge.
ambush, year 2027, day familiar
Terminators overrun the Reese Brothers' camp. Allison Young is captured. Most of the others are killed. As the latest leader of the humans, Kyle gets the usual treatment -- he is tortured and then slaughtered. His head is displayed on a pike for all to see as a warning to the humans to die quietly and be happy when they are allowed the privilege of existing in a work camp. Derek hides and sees the gory decapitation and dark blood dripping out of Kyle's mouth. Derek escapes with the unknown new arrival. He said his name was John Connor. Derek blames him for getting his brother killed and abandons him.
John thinks of his mother's constant refrain: Every family has rules. And we had ours. Keep your head down, keep your eyes up, resist the urge to be seen as important or special. Know your exits.
Abandoned and alone on his first full day in the future, John weeps. Not for his own impending death as the terminators close in on him. No, he weeps for the end of innocence and the darkness of men's hearts. For it was men who built terminators in the first place. And men who built Skynet.
The day in 2027 was John's birthday. John didn't mind dying but he did mind leaving his mother, losing his father again, not being able to rescue this Allison or the Cameron he had left in the past, and being hated by a man who was no longer his uncle because his time travel had wiped out the years he would have spent with Kyle after 2011.
And the final injury was that the terminator who pointed the gun at him never knew him. Cameron.