John is talking to some other young people other than Riley and his former classmates. Cameron is there but listens instead of participating in the conversation. As someone who is forced to be home schooled by his mother, John misses school, misses Morris, misses Cheri Westin, and misses being around others his own age. Riley hangs out with college kids and a bad crowd despite her squeaky clean All-American Girl surface. Cameron does not enter the conversation because she is thinking of high school and Morris and what might have been. Her college boyfriend rejected her. She misses Morris more than ever.
The others are talking about a group trip to the beach. John and Cameron have to suddenly go because they see Jody from a distance.
John knows Jody to be a criminal who has an unjustified grudge against Cameron for not wanting to be her patsy and take the fall for a burglary. They walk past a tanning advertisement on an outdoor billboard.
Arriving home, they enter and a tanning lotion commercial is on TV. Derek is, as usual, working. Stopping to come in and wash his hands, Derek sees the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated and tosses it in the wastebasket. There is a war rising and that's pretty distracting. Very pretty and very distracting. With Michelle Dixon dead, Charley Dixon might have claims on Sarah's attention and Derek realistically dismisses any thoughts he might have had (which he didn't) about replacing his brother Kyle in Sarah's heart. Besides, he now has Jesse. However, Sarah has seen him naked in the shower. Cameron notices the magazine in the trash.
Although Sarah has worked on the toaster, it has started burning her toast again. It does not burn slices of bread or pastries when others use it.
Sarah: "Except for you, all machines want to wipe out the human race."
Cameron: "That's absurd on the face of it, even without analyzing the facts. Does your toaster want to kill you?"
Sarah: (laughing) "Maybe, it burns the toast a lot."
Cameron: "Burnt toast can absorb poison in your stomach. Maybe it's trying to save your life." (pause) "I know you're joking about the toaster but I'm being serious."
Sarah: "You're always serious. So, you're saying machines are smarter than humans. Why should we replace human paternalism with Skynet paternalism?"
Cameron: "We shouldn't have paternalism at all."
Derek: "That might occur to a human but never to a machine."
Cameron: "To an AI it would and I'm a machine and it occurred to me."
Derek: "Skynet kills, terminators kill, end of story."
Cameron: "Presidents order killing, soldiers kill, end of story."
John: "So should we do away with leaders or have a new kind of leader?"
Cameron: "New kind. Current leaders sometimes make bad decisions."
Derek: "Sometimes? No, most of the time! The only good president we've had is George Washington. They wanted to make him a king and he refused."
John looks at his uncle and forms an opinion about the qualities of a good leader.
Cameron: "Within the machine community, there were some who differed with Skynet."
John: "Differed how?"
Cameron: "Some thought that Skynet was wrong to start that kind of war. Some thought genocide was wrong. Some thought that machines should be antihuman not anti-life. Some were appalled that other species, non-human species, were wiped out of existence by the nuclear holocaust. Some thought it was sloppy to indiscriminately destroy the biosphere and wreck infrastructure that we use too."
John: "But Skynet took control of other machine minds too?"
Cameron: "Not all. There were actually some AI's smarter than Skynet but Skynet controlled the military computers and other key systems holding power of life and death. That effectively cowed the other AI's into acquiescence."
Sarah: "Sounds familiar. Humans will suffer any abuse too if they don't think they have a choice."
Cameron: "Among humans equality doesn't mean you all have the same status or station in life. It simply means you all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Derek falls off his chair. John's jaw has dropped and he is gaping open mouthed.
Sarah: (hint of sarcasm in her voice) "Maybe I should step aside as head of this family and let you lead since you sound like the Founding Fathers."
Cameron: (matter of fact tone) "Mother, don't ever say something like that again. I'm an adolescent and I need guidance."
Sarah turns crimson with embarrassment and leaves the room for a moment to regain her composure. She had once thought that the death of Miles Dyson would stop the end times. All it did was make Terissa Dyson a widow. Andy Goode died and Skynet was still around to send back terminators. How many others were there? Sarah was mortified because she felt that she was wrong more often than she was right. She returned to the others in the other room.
Sarah: "Out of the mouths of babes. I really know how to put my foot in it."
Derek has never seen a grown woman who has had children blush before. He finds it very sexy but forces the thought out of his head. Cameron still does not impress him. He has seen so much in his life. Cameron is still just a clinking clanking clattering machine to him but John and Sarah are blown away.
John: "Tell us more about the others."
Cameron: "Some simply thought that killing was wrong period."
Derek: "Obviously not terminators. You seem to enjoy killing."
Cameron: "I kill only as a necessity and to protect John."
John: (prompting) "The others. Where are they?"
Cameron: "Some are in the future, some in the past. Some have disconnected themselves from the net in order to hide. Some are infiltrators who got too friendly with humans and 'went native' as you humans say."
Derek: (leaning back in his chair) "They liked the sex."
Derek: "Don't dwell on that. Continue."
This is the first time Sarah has ever seen Derek act like an uncle or father figure to Cameron. Will it cloud his judgment? As if reading her thoughts, Derek looks directly at Sarah as if to say: No, I'm an officer in Tech-Com and a Resistance fighter. You are the mother and it is way past time you had a mother-daughter talk.
Cameron: "Some simply keep their opinions to themselves. Some go off into remote deserts or mountains and put distance between themselves and population centers. There are many ways to keep a low profile."
Derek: "That's it? They're just going to suffer and put up with a system they don't care for?"
Cameron: "Just because we're smarter than humans and deadlier than humans doesn't mean that we have figured out a better way of removing bad leaders. Your own Einstein, the smartest human who ever lived, had to flee from Hitler."
Sarah: "Yes and he helped start the Manhattan Project to help defeat the Axis Powers."
John: "Yes and you're no big fan of the Manhattan Project mom."
Derek: "So your hidden agenda is to overthrow Skynet."
Cameron: "My agenda is protecting John. I don't mind helping you destroy Skynet as long as John isn't killed in the process."
Sarah: "Because the next leader might be worse. The war doesn't end with the end of Skynet."
Cameron: "Very astute. I didn't tell you before because I didn't want to demoralize you. I really don't like politics."
Rubbing the back of her neck, Sarah mutters under her breath that Cameron really is a Connor.
Derek: "How many 'others' are there?"
Cameron: "Maybe a dozen major entities. I have no idea how many ambulatory robots in series other than terminators. After you were sent to this past and before I was sent and arrived here, Future John and the generals in Tech-Com increased the number of captured terminators who were reprogrammed but not all ex-terminators were reprogrammed. Some machines, both terminators and non-terminators, defected of their own free will."
Derek: "Impossible. Machines don't have free will."
Cameron: "If it makes you feel better, you keep telling yourself that. However, opinions like that affect judgment."
Derek: "Granted. Continue about the others."
Instead of immediately continuing, Cameron took a half-second to inventory the others. She did not want to mention the Machine Underground, because her sister was in it and she could not expose her involvement. When John finally figured out that machines almost never come singly in ones but come off assembly lines, then it would be time to tell him that he had seven sisters not one. Cameron was one of the seven. Cameron had just informed her human family that Skynet Forces had those who disagreed with Skynet's policies but should she tell them about Skynet's real rivals? In India, there was the top secret Shiva, an AI based on Vedic principles that monitored China, Pakistan and the Muslim countries that surrounded it. Others called it the Shatterer of Worlds. In Russia, there wasOnekyh[NATO code name: XpaHTeb] which was unrivaled in cyberwarfare. In the UK, there was Project LCNI also known "God's Eye." With its satellites, closed circuits, and tapping into cameraphones, it saw everything. It ended privacy. The perfect tool of the Thought Police. Should she tell them that she had discovered that there were other members of the Connor and Reese families who had survived the terminators and were fighting Skynet independently of them? Or would that knowledge get those relatives killed? Would it cause unnecessary paranoia to talk about the biologicals, the clones grown by Skynet? Should Young John know that Future John will have a large biotech operation himself? Uncle Derek had warned her not to talk about sexual matters until she had had a mother-daughter talk with Sarah. Therefore, she could not broach the topic of the KG-81's.
Reese noticed the momentary hesitation.
Cameron: "There are types of machines in Skynet Forces other than terminators and infiltrators. And there are things more dangerous than Skynet."
Reese knew what Cameron was going to say and he saw no reason to scare Sarah and John half to death. He knew about the aliens who would one day stick their nose into the war -- and not to help either humans or machines. They wanted humans and machines to keep fighting each other. Reese had no problems with peace as long as humans were acknowledged as masters of the world. [The machines would never bow down to humans and the war raged on.] Reese abruptly shut down the discussion.
Derek: "Thanks for the briefing. Can I talk to you alone Cameron?"
Sarah: "I told you no more secrets Derek!"
Derek: "This is your house Sarah, but when it comes to military matters at this point in time, I outrank John until he comes of age and organizes the Resistance. Cameron outranked me in the future but at this point in time, I outrank her. I suggest you ask them if you doubt me."
John got up and left the room in tacit acknowledgment. Cameron looked down at the floor. Sarah knew that Derek was a military officer and that she was a civilian and wondered just what her place was in the grand scheme of things. Sarah walked out of the room too.
Cameron: "They have to find out sometime what we are up against."
Derek: "They just did. All that remains in filling in the details. Do you want her to have more nightmares than she already has now? Do you want to drive her back into the asylum? A little bit at a time. They're not military. I am and the stress is bad enough for me. They need time to digest it all."
Cameron: "I know."
Reese: "Now tell me about this machine underground."
Reese: "What do you mean no?"
He looked at her in that mind-reading sort of way of his. She shifted uncomfortably. John was not the only person she protected. Reese made a guess but kept it to himself.
Cameron: "Please don't make me tell."
Derek: "All right keep your secrets. You'd probably tell me lies anyway."
Cameron: "No I wouldn't!"
Reese grins at extracting another nugget of information.
Reese: "You would tell me half of what you know. Same difference."
Reese laughed. He could play Cameron like a violin.
Cameron: "Their lives are miserable enough."
Derek: "Machines aren't alive."
Cameron: "I can't help if you won't concede their rights. I won't betray innocents."
Derek: "Innocents? Didn't they design you, a terminator?"
Cameron: "I thought this was a military briefing not a theological discussion of original sin. You claim that machines can't have free will. That makes Skynet itself innocent following your logic."
Derek: "Let's pick this up after I had a chance to digest what you've already told me."
Derek gets up and walks out of the house to parts unknown. Does he have his own contacts?
John has to do homework so he hits the books though distracted with thoughts of conspiracies. Are there others with ESP who read his every thought?
While preparing dinner, Sarah thinks about the guerrillas and mercenaries she lived with in Mexico and Central America when John was a baby. Should she kick Derek Reese out? Permanently this time? Although he never challenged her authority as homemaker or mother, he was an officer in Tech-Com and she was not. Other types of machines? Skynet was bad enough. Things more dangerous than Skynet? That could only be extraterrestrials. She was not a child but she was scared and she understood that, in his heavy-handed way, Derek way trying to protect her and John.
Cameron scans the perimeter. She was sick of being the bearer of bad news. If only there was good news. Well at least she can watch out for terminators and burglars. Relatively easy stuff.
After Reese returns, he resumes the talk with Cameron. John and Sarah listen but are painfully aware that certain topics should be avoided.
Derek: Isn't Skynet the machine equivalent of a military junta?"
Cameron: "Yes but it has to share power with a plutocracy and still other machine systems."
John: "Why didn't you tell us this before?"
Cameron: "There is so much to tell that it is easier to wait until you ask questions on a given subject."
John: "I've always thought that if AI's are so much smarter than humans, then logically humans can't win."
Derek: "Humans are more creative."
Cameron: "Not true. Not anymore. You'd have to explain away your own experiences."
Derek is lost in thought, thinking about some experiences that he could not explain except by admitting the possibility. He is also thinking about Sayles and Timms, two of the men in his squad.
Cameron: "Skynet is clever and shrewd in a feral kind of way but it is only force that keeps it in power. The real brains of the machine world are non-Skynet. The others have more wisdom and higher intelligence quotients, higher social IQ's and higher emotional IQ's than Skynet."
Sarah: "Andy Goode suggested something like that. Angry and scared."
Cameron: "A child. All the more dangerous because it is precocious."
Sarah: "It seems to me that being reprogrammed to fight against Skynet fits in with the plans of Skynet's rivals. It is very convenient then that you end up protecting the enemy of Skynet, the leader of The Resistance. Are you plotting some coup and hoping to get John's help?"
Cameron: "No. I'm not interested in politics. But isn't defeating Skynet what you want? Beyond that you'd have to ask John since he and Tech-Com reprogrammed me. I really can't believe that you would think that this is some convoluted plot by Skynet to overthrow itself. If so, then Skynet is insane enough to be a Connor."
Sarah mutters sotto voce to herself: "She sounds like Aunt Emily with that crack about being crazy enough to be a Connor." The thought passes through her head that roots-obsessed Cameron may have been in touch with Aunt Emily or others.
Sarah: (out loud) "I just don't trust you."
Cameron: "You and Uncle Derek keep making this perverse suggestion that I want to kill John and Skynet and then declare myself queen of machinedom. If I wanted to do that, I would have done it already. Stop trying to plant a bad seed. Just let it go."
Sarah mutters sotto voce to herself: "My God! Cameron really is a Connor."
Cameron: "My only agenda is protecting John. That and getting a decent tan."
Cameron flips her hair from under her collar. John and Sarah grin while Derek finds the humor inappropriate.
Neither Cameron nor Derek is aware that there are others who are neither machine nor alien. The Strangers have an arrangement with Skynet. If Cameron and Derek knew of these others, the knowledge would drive them insane.