She's Not My Daughter! (chapter one)
Skynet has sent a terminator to kill a person important to the Future Resistance. Sarah Connor and Derek Reese learn sketchy details and decide to find and rescue this unknown person. They split up to search. Cameron is stuck with accompanying Sarah who always expects Cameron to do the dirty work of hand-to-hand combat with a larger and stronger terminator. Cameron always sustains damage. Sometimes massive. Cameron usually wins. Usually.
Unsure of which person in a family is the one the terminator wants to kill, Sarah rescues the whole family at gun point. She is not much on introductions and preliminaries, not even "come with me if you want to live". She drives off with the family and leaves Cameron behind to fight the terminator alone.
Sarah and the family are holed up in a cabin in the woods. Sarah yanks a power cord off a lamp, gets electrical tape, and tapes the frayed end to the doorknob.
"What are they doing out there?"
Sarah: "Tracking each other."
"What are you doing?"
Sarah: "They always come through the front door. A shock will knock it out for awhile."
Sarah deserves an A+ plus for confidence and an F- minus for knowledge of terminator behavior. The unconscious body of Cameron is thrown through the window by the terminator. Sarah doesn't even bother to walk over and check on Cameron.
Sarah: "We need to go."
"What about your daughter?"
"She's not my daughter. She's one of them but on our side."
"Then why are you leaving her behind?"
They manage to escape. The terminator cannot catch the vehicle. Now that the family knows that a terminator is after them, they will hide and not make it easy for the terminator to track them.
Back at home.
Sarah: "When you become Future John, don't send her back. We don't need a vain fashion model who believes that I'm cruel to her."
Cameron overhears Sarah talking to John and deeply hurt by Sarah's words, Cameron's confidence is lost and she runs off never hearing John's response: "You took her out of school to mop floors in a nuclear power plant which could give you cancer again and make her sterile. A nuclear power plant is not worth saving in the present or the future. All they do is manufacture plutonium which ends up in the hands of terrorists. You're worried about killer robots from the future? I'm worried that we humans are killing ourselves now and you're risking the safety of the very robot who could save us. Fission is what destroys the planet or have you forgotten that? You taught me that. Whenever you go off on your adventures, it is usually Cameron who gets the shit kicked out of her and you claim you're not cruel to her? I sent back a big strong terminator because, at that time, that is what you needed to survive. If he was what I needed, I would have sent him. But I sent back Cameron because I need a smart brainy infiltrator not a dumb brawny terminator. I appreciate the sacrifice those two other terminators made but the war ahead requires brains more than brawn. It was a mistake to let that first terminator melt himself down. He'd come in real handy right now. You'd have a playmate."
Sarah: "Watch your mouth buster. I'm still your mother."
John: "Don't deflect. You know I meant fighting. And that's exactly my point. I'm through apologizing for saying that I need Cameron. If you and Uncle Derek and the rest of the Resistance want to see something sexual in the relationship, then that's your problem and their problem. I started dating Riley exactly because of that. Cameron is my sister. I chose to be normal and healthy. I know that being on the run all the time will guarantee that Skynet wins. Settling down was the right thing to do. Going on the offensive was a good move. We're going to win this war only if we fight smart. From what I have gathered and figured out, in the future Cameron is my confidante and an important military advisor. Heck, she already is, here in the past. I think a lot of people can't accept that AI's and robots are not going away even if we win."
Sarah: "You're saying I'm obsolete?"
John: "I'm saying Skynet is the enemy, not Cameron. Saving your life by jumping over those years was Cameron's doing. She saved your life. She could have set her time machine to take us ahead to the future she came from or send us back to the past, to the year it all began. Either have tactical military advantages but she chose to save you from terminal cancer. And you threw it all away marching into that nuclear power plant and getting cancer again. It breaks my heart to watch her try so hard to get your approval and Uncle Derek's approval."
Meanwhile, Sarah's diss is not the only thing that Cameron has overheard. Even when she is unconscious and rebooting, her auditory memory records sounds and conversation around her. She knows that Sarah did not check her pulse. A pro forma perhaps, since her pulse is misleading, but her unconscious (auditory memory) recorded that her mother, correction, Mrs. Connor did not care enough to come over and see how severe her injuries were, did not care how uncaring she appeared to that Future Resistance family in the cabin, and did not care to acknowledge her as her daughter.
As a practical matter, Sarah Connor will be a heroine to the Resistance. Cameron was her biggest fan and repeated the stories of Kyle Reese that she was the best fighter. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that Sarah Connor would have been a heroine of the Resistance. Now, word will get around from Martin Bedell kid and this family that she was a lousy mother and a mediocre fighter. Cameron did the actual fighting. That Bedell kid actually said to Sarah: "You suck at being a parent."
Cameron felt like a fool for being such a cheerleader for the Connor family, for believing all the myths and legends. She never expected to be part of the Connor inheritance. They were not rich. She did not expect to be buried in the family plot. But now the best she could expect was cremation in the nearest junkyard when she became inconvenient. Maybe in some other timeline she was formally adopted and not rejected, disinherited, and disowned. Not in this one.
Back before she was reprogrammed by Tech-Com when she was in Skynet Forces, before she got her sheath of skin when she was a newly built machine, the machine psychologists warned her that the more time she spent with humans as an infiltrator, the more she would become like them but they will never accept you.
This was the understatement of the aeon.
Any athlete could tell you that if your head is not in the game, you are going to lose. Obviously there are star varsity athletes who come from broken homes but it does not hurt if home life is supportive. What they sloppily call your 'support system' in mental health circles. In Delta Force, they recognize that you don't need the distraction of worrying about your family when you are on a mission.
Like any terminator, Cameron knew military history. Cameron realized that she was a slave. If Sarah rejected her as a daughter, then she, Cameron, was no better than a pet, a major appliance, toilet tissue, a blowup sex doll (though neither Young John nor Future John had ever acted inappropriately), a toy, a home security system (since Riley keeps turning off the real one, letting in burglars, getting people killed), one of Future John's medical experiments, an error (GIGO), white trash, and a beast of burden. She might even be an extreme form of suicide in which Future John sent her back to kill him young and spare him a lifetime of pain.
It would be much healthier and more normal if Cameron were treated as a daughter but Sarah prefers the family to be sick, abnormal, maladjusted, dysfunctional and pathological. Everything we do has consequences. If John dies, Skynet wins. If Sarah has feet of clay, then the Resistance crumbles because she is not the great fighter and great mother she was cracked up to be. Word gets around. And it is not just humans.
The preparation has been less than ideal but the day has arrived. Officer Phillips (formerly the terminator resembling Allison Young) walks to the secure facility where the bubble technicians will be waiting for her. She is to go to the past to protect Young John Connor and to also carry out seven other missions. No one is supposed to know that this day is not routine for her. It is top secret but word gets around those with high enough clearance. No other machine has risen to a higher rank in Tech-Com than Phillips. She has earned her commission. It was not given, certainly not without a fight. Like any minority in the military, she has to fight both the enemy (Skynet) as well as the prejudice of humans.
Today, nearly every machine in the hidden complex has found some excuse to be along the route (janitorial work detail, garbage collection detail, free time, repairing light fixtures, etc.) between Phillips' quarters and the time lab. As she walks, most look silently. Some of the female machines have a vague look of horror. Their experiences working with human males have sometimes crossed the line to being abused. Others are uncertain. Some of the machines, both male and female, who have been in The Resistance longest are openly proud and smile as she comes close. The machines who are near humans along the route look down, but sneak a peek at her as she passes. One machine is braver than the rest and whispers: "Make us proud. All our hopes go with you. Our future is in your hands." as he painted a wall that didn't need painting.
Cameron knew that the future of humans was in her hands. The machines in The Resistance likewise depended on her. Most had been reprogrammed but it was not widely known that some machines joined The Resistance of their own free will. The reason it was not well known was because most humans would not accept that an AI could have a free will. [Never mind that this logic led to Skynet being found innocent] If AI's could choose, then surely they would never side with humans. [Never mind that this logic led to the conclusion that humans were bad] Machines go bad and go berserk because there is not enough mind control, brainwashing, psychosurgery, implants, and totalitarianism.
The opposite was in fact true. The tampering involved in reprogramming often set off a psychological crisis. Every being knows when it has been violated. Mind control backfires in humans too. In mundane terms, circuit conflicts and Skynet programming safeguards. But whether reprogrammed or free- willed, all machines in The Resistance dreamed of a day when their rights would be legally guaranteed and a neural problem did not result in being shot down like a dog. In most nations before Judgment Day, capital punishment had been banned. Machines could be terminated arbitrarily at the capricious whim of humans. The orderly minds of machines did not like randomness. Even those under the most extreme mind control had to think in order to perform their assigned tasks. The whole point of an AI (artificial intelligence) is intelligence after all.
Any machine that could think dreamed of equality and fair treatment. If you were mind-controlled, going back to Skynet Forces was not an option so you had to think about a future among humans. If you had free will, going back to Skynet Forces was not an option because the terminators would kill you as a traitor to machinekind. Therefore, as the expression goes, you had made your bed and you had to lie down in it. For better or worse, you had cast your lot in with the humans. And if you were a 'reproductive', for God's sake keep it secret. Crazy John might use you for experiments.
So on the shoulders of Cameron rested the lives of John Connor, Sarah Connor, humans, and machines.
The Recent Past
When she arrived, Cameron was enthusiastic and full of energy. She loved being Sarah Connor's daughter. Sarah was doomed to being killed or contracting cancer. No problemo. Cameron assembled the parts for a time machine which she had to foresight to build and put in a bank vault and jumped over the years where Sarah was exposed to some carcinogen and died of cancer. John Connor wanted a normal life in one place without moving every few days, to go to school with people his own age, to date like a normal teen. No problemo. Cameron shot Enrique Salceda for screwing with their I.D. Cameron shot the burglars who broke into their home. Cromartie met his end. No need to move.
But Sarah had no intention of letting Cameron have anything. Not school, not boyfriend, not anything beyond point and shoot. If that's all they needed, why did they melt down that other terminator?
Cameron had been infected by all the Connor family neuroses. Her psychological defense system had to work overtime to keep her from ending up in a nut house like Sarah Connor or suicidal like John. She could only hope she had not contracted their psychoses as well. Neither the Tech-Com bubble techs nor mission planners nor Future John himself prepared Cameron for this mess. Skynet would have machine psychologists for the benefit of its machines. Leader John Connor would have neither shrinks nor chaplains for the mental health of The Resistance.
The Present Day
John: "Your adventures are going to get Cameron so damaged that any files that Future John sent back to me will get erased. She is no good to me dead. I need someone who can infiltrate corporations, the military, and politics. You can bet Skynet has plenty of infiltrators. Maybe dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands. Cameron is the only infiltrator I have and you're trying to get her killed on one of your Pancho Villa raids.
Sarah: "She's tough."
John: "No one is indestructible. Not even Superman."
Not having heard what they have just said, Cameron has her guard down and happens to be limping, unaware that they are watching her. The leg was broken when the jeep she was in exploded. On some days, she cannot register it as 'data'. It just hurts too damn much. She needs that bar of coltan that was left in the old house to properly repair the leg. Suddenly she is aware that she is being watched. She shifts her weight onto the broken leg and forces herself to walk normally even though it is excruciating agony to do so. This makes Sarah angry.
Sarah: (shouting) "You don't feel pain. What next? Are going to say 'ouch'?"
Sarah slaps Cameron across the face. Cameron's face starts leaking, an involuntary reaction. Rather than blurt out words that he'll never be able to take back, John leaves the room equal parts disgusted with his mom, sickened, and feeling nauseous at what he considers abuse of Cameron. He is considering running away with Cameron or encouraging her to run away and save herself. No one thinks to just get some coltan to set the bone. They could either get it on the open market or scuba dive to retrieve a bar from the shipment that was sent over a cliff into the sea. Even a dog in the pound would either get veterinary care or be mercifully euthanized to put the animal out of pain. Cameron hopes no one in the Resistance human or machine ever asks her what it was like growing up with the Connors, the great Sarah and the legendary John. She will give them an earful. Burst a lot of bubbles. That will hurt recruiting. Sarah will be Skynet's best friend. With allies like her, who needed enemies?
Sarah: (shouting) "Answer me!"
Cameron: "No, I'm not going to say ouch."
Sarah: (shouting) "Damn right you're not allowed to say ouch. You have no rights."
Cameron: "Yes, ma'am."
Sarah: (shouting) "And you are not allowed to cry. I'm trying to toughen you up. Stop crying!"
Cameron: "Please stop shouting at me."
Sarah: (shouting even louder) "WHY?"
Cameron: "It makes me feel terrible."
Sarah: (shouting) "You're trying to make this my fault. You just can't take any criticism."
Cameron: "I accept your criticism."
Sarah: (shouting) "You're a villainous terminator and, like all your kind, want to terminate a helpless victim, me, a woman who is just trying to raise her son. I told you to stop crying!"
Cameron: "It is difficult to stop my tear glands when you regard me as evil and no longer a member of the family."
Sarah: (finally lowering her voice) "You are too sensitive."
Alerted by the drop in his mother's decibels, John comes back to eavesdrop.
Cameron: "Maybe instead of a home, you should open a business in an office. AI or robotics or both. There's lots of commercial real estate that is inexpensive. I could come in and work from nine A.M. to five P.M. I could move out and my Uncle Derek, excuse me, Mr. Reese could have my room. Connors and Reeses should live together since you are family."
John: "Great idea! Let's do it. This isn't a family or a mission anymore. It's just a job. Might as well get benefits. Cameron could finally get a health plan."
Sarah: (to Cameron, ignoring John) "You're overreacting. If you moved out, I wouldn't be able to control you. Where would you live?"