A Book Called, "The Wizard Of Oz"
Los Angeles, California
A hotel room in an empty wing
Monday, January 14, 2008
"Momma!" -scream of a mortally wounded soldier on the shores of Omaha Beach, from the opening scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan
"You DARE to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of kaligenous junk!" -The Wizard speaking to the Tin Man from the movie The Wizard of Oz
Energy hit Cameron's chip. Diagnostics ran.
Her metal endoskeleton was mostly intact. Minor errors began to register.
Cameron didn't need to have diagnostics of her flesh, there was pain. Every nerve in her synthetic body transmitted horrid amounts of pain.
Further there were new miserable sensations. Cameron's eyes ached and constricted facial muscles flashed through her head.
Her organs burned. Odd queasy feelings hurt her synthetic stomach and other organs.
Another familiar pain shot up as well, air snaked its way onto raw nerves that were openly exposed. Her chest cavity was flayed open.
Cameron opened her eyes and resisted the organic urge to scream. She was also oddly disoriented as the sudden sensation of three emotional beings and three other bodies moved through interface to her wounded synthetic skin.
John and Derek were holding her shoulders on both sides. Sarah was at her abdomen.
John was speaking, trying to be calm, "Cameron did I get the power unit in right?"
Cameron's diagnostics identified a problem. The power cell being used was properly placed, but the parts were slightly off. She moved her shaking hands down and adjusted.
Cameron tried to respond, "No, but it was close." Her voice was off, one part horse from her ravaged flesh and one part distorted from the machine inside her.
Sarah asked, "How do you feel?" She was already stitching the wound shut.
Cameron honestly stated, "I don't know how to describe it." The pain was chorus of strange sensations. She could adjust the machine part of her voice back to normal, but the hoarseness from her throat was unyielding.
Sarah softly inquired, "Do your organs hurt?"
Cameron replied, "Yes."
Sarah instructed, "John, she's having bad reactions from her living half. Please get her the Gatorade and give it too her in sips." Intuitively, Sarah added, "Treat her like she's got a stomach bug and can't keep it down. She needs the fluids."
Derek handled the other power core and offered, "You want to put in the spare?"
Sarah responded, "Not until she's regenerated her body fluids. I don't think we can do it today."
Derek asked, "What do you want me to do with the donor?"
Sarah said, "Zip his bag. We'll deal with the rest later."
John poured an orange fluid from a plastic bottle into a cup. He sat next to Cameron's head and said, "I need you to take this slow. You might get the urge to drink this quickly, but trust me if your stomach is anything like mine, it's a really bad idea."
John lifted Cameron's head slightly and she did as instructed. It tasted weird and her throat hurt. Her stomach felt violated by the liquid as well.
John noticed Cameron's wincing. Empathically, he said, "Yeah, this can suck to drink when you are feeling bad."
John slowly fed Cameron the liquid. Derek and Sarah simply watched, seated slightly away in the room's chairs.
Over the course of the next hour, Cameron's skin looked less like a dehydrated corpse and more like that of a terminally ill person. John had emptied three bottles of Gatorade by slowly feeding her.
Breaking the long silence, Sarah looked at Cameron and asked, "Feeling any better?"
Cameron simply responded saying, "Yes."
Sarah offered, "Your John had said your schematics showed more synthetic tissue than he had expected. He also said it was unique. Your body has been having complications while you were offline that we haven't seen from another terminator, here or in your records."
Sarah explained, "We have no idea how you are actually reacting, so we're just assuming it would be like a person. The good thing being that you heal so fast."
Sarah asked, "You're looking better. Are you well enough to stand for a few minutes?"
Cameron simply responded, "I think so."
Sarah went to give Cameron a hand getting up. She looked at Derek and John asking, "Could you two switch out her sheets and eventually burn the old ones? I don't want her laying in that mess."
The two men did as requested. Sarah spent the next ten minutes helping Cameron wash blood, gore, and filth off of her wounded body.
A few minutes later, in newer clothes, Cameron was walking like someone who had been through surgery back to a bed she would normally never use. Intuitively, Sarah knew whatever Skynet had down to make Cameron's synthetic form special was really pissed about the long break from being fed. The wincing cyborg continued to act wounded and sick. Apparently it wasn't something she could turn off, even though she seemed in better control of herself by the hour.
Cameron crawled into the bed. Derek pulled the covers back for her and placed them over her.
He sat next to her for a minute and placed his hand on her shoulder. His feelings were warm, but it wasn't in his nature to be so. Smiling, Derek simply stated, "You look like ****, Cameron."
She gave him a confused look. Derek responded saying, "We need to teach you how to fight like a human at some point. You take the right kind of round to the melon and you won't be coming back. In the next few weeks, I get to kick John's ass into shape. You aren't getting spared either."
Cameron came up with the only response she could calculate saying, "Thank you."
Derek made a face and stated, "Don't get it twisted. I don't like you." He playfully patted her on the shoulder and walked off.
John sat next to Cameron next, taking the time to talk after being quiet for so long. He softly asked, "Are you ok?" As he did so he put his hand on Cameron's shoulder as well so she could read him.
She said, "Yes". There was something there she had never sensed before in this John. Something she hadn't felt since the Battle of London. She looked at John and said, "You lost someone."
John responded, "Yes, but I was lucky." His eyes were teary. Emotions poured through him.
Cameron asked, "How?"
John responded honestly, "Because, it was only one." John took a moment to kiss Cameron on her forehead. It was the most heartfelt thing this John had ever done to Cameron.
Sarah Connor asked, "So, we'll try solids tomorrow Cameron. What would you like to eat?"
Cameron thought for a moment and responded, "Pizza, I like pepperoni pizza."
Sarah looked at Derek and John. She asked, "Can you two boys make a pizza run tomorrow afternoon?"
John simply said, "Sure." Derek simply smiled; he was otherwise unreadable.
Sarah stated, "Ok there is too much testosterone in my room. It's girl time. You two say goodbye and go."
Derek waved and immediately left. John smiled at Cameron, patted her on her shoulder, and walked to his room closing the door behind him.
Sarah went and grabbed a bag from her bed. She asked, "Are you ready for more fluids?"
Cameron simply stated, "No."
Sarah sat on Cameron's bed. She took something out of a package.
Sarah stretched back on the bed with a book and motioned for Cameron to come closer as if she were a child. Even wincing Cameron did and placed her head on Sarah's closest shoulder.
Sarah softly said, "I know you recognize this book. It had special significance to my John. It meant a lot to yours as well."
Cameron simply looked at her. She could feel emotions bubbling in Sarah. They were overwhelming and confusing, but she stayed put.
Sarah continued, "Before I do, I have something I need to talk to you about. It had nothing to do with you, but you need to know and I need to make sure you understand."
Cameron offered, "The metaphor?"
Sarah smiled and acknowledged, "Yes, the metaphor. Those strange human things we do that you don't grasp. It's not because you are stupid Cameron, but because you are different. There is nothing wrong with being different."
Something maternal stirred in Sarah. She found herself petting Cameron's head, playing with her hair. The way, long ago, she had done too a young John.
Sarah continued by saying, "Before John was born there was a machine that came back in time. It took my old life, it killed the love of my life, and it tried to kill John before he was even born. I don't think someone ever fully comes to terms with something like that."
"A few years later, I was locked away for knowing what was coming, so a company of humans could cover their tracks. Two more terminators came back in time, one was the T1000 and the other was one that wore the exact face of the monster that had taken everything from me."
"I saw from your files that John had told you about Uncle Bob. My experience was a lot worse with that machine."
"It took a lot of hard swallowing to not see the machine that killed John's father. It took a lot to see that machine in a different light."
"By the time I could, that machine had sacrificed itself. It did so believing that by doing so it would stop Judgment day and save mankind."
"Uncle Bob did so to protect John. It did so to protect us all."
"You had said Skynet lists 27,138 victories against John Connor. Through each one of those, do you remember what you said remains a constant?"
Cameron simply looked at Sarah. She really didn't want to speak.
Sarah continued, "Like you had said Cameron, it never successfully saved Cyberdyne or that earlier version of itself. It lost 27,138 times, to me, John, the scientist that refused to make it, and Uncle Bob."
A tear ran down Sarah's cheek as more confusing emotions welled in her. She continued saying, "So, it seems we do better together than we do separately."
Cameron simply watched her, silently and intently. The way she did it, once again, reminded Sarah of a small child.
Sarah continued talking saying, "I looked at everything in your memories Cameron. I know everything and I learned something I never expected to learn."
Cameron asked, "What was that?"
Sarah answered, "That I'm supposed to be dead already. That John never gave you the order or even the suggestion to bring me here. Whether you lied or not, that was you all along."
Cameron stayed silent. Sarah kept playing with her hair.
"So, I'd like something. I really want a fresh start with you. Is that ok?"
Cameron simply replied, "Yes"
"I'd like your word that you don't withhold information from me any longer."
Cameron simply replied, "I promise."
"I want you to be able to fix yourself from this point forward too. I don't ever want to go through this again. I need you to make a safe and secure place for you to have parts. Also, I need John, Derek and I too know how to fix you. Do you understand?"
"I also want you to talk to me if you don't understand something. I want you to learn how and why things are. Do you understand?"
"I want you to be able to blend with us and I want you to learn how to make people trust you. Do you understand?"
Cameron stated, "John Connor didn't like me to lie."
Sarah explained, "Cameron, a baby doesn't naturally know how to smile either. Learning isn't lying. Becoming more socially aware, isn't lying."
Sarah continued, "Even if the emotions Skynet gave you are different from those of humans, you can learn to express them like a human would and translate what you are feeling. It's part of how humans can trust you. One day, you are going to need that skill. Do you understand?"
Cameron frowned. "Not completely, but I will try."
Sarah responded, "That's all I can ask for. So with this fresh start, I wanted to read something too you." Sarah grabbed the book.
Sarah explained, "It's a human thing with lots of metaphors. You aren't going to understand it all. I want you to ask me questions when you don't understand."
Cameron looked at the book cover. She remembered her conversations with Sarah in the past and offered, "I'm the Tin Man."
Sarah's eyes watered. She stroked Cameron's hair maternally and shook her head in an exaggerated fashion as if she were talking to a toddler, simply saying "No."
Cameron was confused. She looked at Sarah's crying eyes without comprehension, even as she directly felt the storm of emotions pouring out of her Hero.
Sarah simply said, "You don't get the metaphor. I've seen your whole life Cameron. I know exactly who you are."
She stroked Cameron's hair and explained, "You've never been the Tin Man, little girl."
With a tear in her eyes and a quiver in her voice, Sarah said, "You are Dorothy."
Quietly, Sarah read. As Cameron's fondest memory flashed before her eyes and she could hear her John's voice from so very long ago.
Cameron understood one very important metaphor, on her own. Her dark father had lied.
Cameron was not alone. She was home...