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The Third Way

Novel By: Toni Roman
Young adult

This novel has a strange parentage. It started as a short story that was a by-product (believe it or not) of a young adult story titled "Volunteeers" (which I have yet to publish) and inspired by my Twitter fiction series "President Evil" though not set in that universe.

Now that you are totally confused, read and enjoy.
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Submitted:Aug 8, 2009    Reads: 80    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

The Third Way (part 2)


Cameron Phillips is living in an apartment. At school, she observes new student John Connor but has not spoken to him yet. The terminator has not arrived so there is no point to making contact.

After contact, Cameron goes to live with John and his mother and changes her last name to match theirs. When the constant attacks by terminators become tiresome, Cameron offers an alternative -- time travel jump to 2006 where the terminators will not know what they look like or how to find them. They will be able to settle down, stay in one place, and go on the offense against Skynet, the enemy of all.

2006 January Third

Junior Achievement meeting

John and Cameron attend, listen, take notes, ask a few questions but mostly sit in the back quietly and keep a low profile, as always.

After the meeting, they walk home. As they walk, they discuss what they've learned and express a wish to do something. Perhaps start a little business that could generate money for what they really want to do -- start a company that could offer an alternative to fission (the technology that destroys the world on Judgment Day) and start a company that could build something to fight Skynet.

"John, I still have a bank account from when I was Cameron Phillips. You can have the money to start the business."

"Cam, I can't let you touch that money. You might need it if mom throws you out someday as an enemy soldier. And she won't cite the Third Amendment. She's unstable. Believe me."

"What if I owned half the business and was an equal partner? Would you take my money then?"

"Even if you didn't invest a penny, I'd still insist that you got half as my partner. No, let's raise the money some other way."

"Do you always have to be my big brother looking out for me?"

"More like you are my big sister always looking out for me! Investing your only money and betting on my ability to produce ideas. When have I EVER acted like your big brother?"

"Sending me back."

"What did you say?"


"I always suspected. My future self, Future John, didn't send you back to be my Protector. He or rather I sent you back to BE protected. You're The Protectee not the Protector. That big guy, Uncle Bob we called him, was the only Protector. What was my older self protecting you from? Perverts? Fanatics? Mom? Is she still alive in the future?"

"Depends on whether mom stays away from radioactivity and toxic chemicals."

Cameron thought about the anti-machine extremists. Every time she started to think her brother was stupid, he'd surprise her.

Cam bumped her shoulder against John's. John bumped back, his shoulder against Cam's.

"Since I'm supposed to be this leader you all keep talking about, I'll make a decision that none of you is expecting. I'm going to figure out a way to save everybody. Including you. Skynet made you so he can't be all bad."

"I was built to be a killer."

"But here we are talking about a business instead of paramilitary guerrilla resistance cells."

"Here we are."

"We can't win on the battlefield. You know that. My father knew that. Uncle Bob knew that. Even our mom, the super-commando must know that. Got to find a third way."

"Third way? What's the second way?"


Cameron makes a face like she tasted something nasty.

"I hate politics."

"I don't, but I do recognize its limits. That's why I think this business is the right way to go. Business empowers people."

It's a dream. A good dream. Something positive to counter the negativity they constantly get from their mother who knows only violence, guns, war, hatred of machines like Cameron, and dismissal of John's dreams.

From this time on, they begin reading books about starting a business. Never letting go of the dream of something better.

2006 late February

The dream is realized. Sort of. John and Cameron have started a little business on the sly. They sneak off to run it part time in a loft above a store front. Before school, during lunch hour at school, after school, weekends, whenever their mother is out of town, any time they can spare from home and school. And at home, they can get some work done on laptops.

The little business sells software that John writes. They have hired their first employees. Two part-timers. Now John can begin Phase II, researching and developing energy alternatives to fission. Like fusion for instance.

As CEO, office manager, and general busybody, Cameron has everything running smoothly. She sits down at her desk bored out of her skull, arranging yellow pencils that don't need sharpening in a holder. She starts doodling. The company needs a motto or slogan.

"Our terminals terminate terminators!"

Cameron scratches through that. She leans back in her chair. Sarah walks in. Cameron is so startled that she leans back too far, falls over, legs up in the air as she struggles to get out of the overturned chair and stand up.

"Mom! What are you doing here?" Cameron said as she smoothed down her hiked up skirt and wobbled in her high heels (she only wore spike heels at work). She grabbed the coat of her business suit and put it on.

Sarah walked around, looked at the ceiling (it could stand painting), the carpet (stained), and the employees. Today, they had hired employee number four who was too busy to look up at either the commotion of Cameron falling down or the arrival of the visitor, Mrs. Connor. Employee number one would go full-time next week. Sarah looked at the office plant, got a cup from the water cooler and rescued the plant from slow death by dehydration.

"You kids think because I'm an adult I'm too slow to notice anything around me. I've known about your venture for months."

"Cameron, do you have the budget for the Rossiter project?"

John walked out of his makeshift lab in the back room, looking down at some papers, oblivious to the world around him. Cameron cleared her throat. Since Cameron didn't need to clear her throat, John looked up. His mother stood there dressed in a business suit. She didn't want to embarrass them so she dressed up. John didn't even know his mother owned any clothes other than jeans, a few simple tops, and a waitress uniform. His mom had nice legs.

"Oh man! Now you're going to make us shut the business down." (employee number four looked up) "You never let me do anything."

The natives, the employees, were getting restless. Something had to be done.

"Mom, you're frightening the employees. I'm going to have to call security. Cameron."

Cameron was tongue-tied. Security was another hat she wore. Along with chief operating officer, occasional cook, bottle washer, and janitor.

Cameron: (in a low voice to Sarah) "I think you'd better step into the executive office." (she raised her voice to address the employees) "Everybody back to work! This woman is obviously insane. Everything is under control."

The "executive office" was an oversized broom closet that had been refurbished to look better than the rest of the place. Though clean, it had a musty odor. A poster of the sky was on the wall and was framed by a curtain rod and drapes since there was no window. One of the employees was a very old senior citizen (21) and used the office for other purposes when his girlfriend came.

Though the three were alone, John spoke in mutilated pig Latin code talk lest the employees overhear them through the thin walls and learn of his secret life.

"I can run a business and fight the 'Net of Sky' at the same time. That's why we started the business. To combine fighting the 'Net of Sky', stopping the 'Day of Judgment', being a good corporate citizen, producing good shareholder value, working assets, and showing social responsibility."

"You sound like a walking brochure." said Sarah smiling. "I'm not here to shut you down. I'm proud of you John." (under her breath to Cameron) "You too."

Stunned, Cameron stumbled and sat down before she fell down.

"John, I think you're working Cameron too hard. She falls down a lot. Your sister is a delicate flower you know."

Cameron's mind was reeling. Her mother said "you too." True, it was a whisper and her mother said it grudgingly but still . . . it was not just rare but practically nonexistent to get a compliment from her mother.

"So, you dressed up just to see us? Thanks Mom."

Sarah lets the kids get back to business and leaves. Instead of going home, she walks into a bank. Not to pull a stick up and rob the place but to apply for a loan. Her real reason for wearing a business suit. She is opening a business. A bookstore specializing in classic literature and history books. She didn't want to use Resistance money for a personal project.

The bookstore will support the family since John and Cameron are still living at home (they are only sixteen) and they intend to plow all profit back into expanding their business. The bookstore will also underwrite the cost of Sarah's historical research. Was the machine that terminated Kyle Reese the earliest in history? Or have any traveled further back in time?

Sarah did not know about Myron Stark in 1920. Yet.


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