A Promise Kept
Los Angeles, California
A hotel room in an empty wing
Monday, December 17, 2007
"What is history but a fable agreed upon." -Napoleon Bonaparte
"A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used." -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., jurist
The hotel room was in a vacant wing. It should be private enough.
Cameron fretted for a few moments over the details. She had bought lots of coffee and doughnuts from a local store.
The John Connor that she had known liked coffee for meetings. Humans would need such things to be awake and aware. There was a long night ahead.
The laptop was set up the way Sarah's son had placed it before. She made sure it had a camera, speakers, and a microphone.
They were far inferior to her body, but soon enough these would be her eyes and ears. In the case of the speakers, they would be needed to make sure people could hear.
She had a machine's nervousness. She knew that to fail in what had to be done tonight, would be to fail in her entire purpose.
She waited for Derek and John to arrive. Sarah had become unusually quiet.
Cameron found herself looking at her hands. It was an odd habit she'd developed, though it served the purpose of not aggravating others.
Derek arrived. He glared like always.
Shortly thereafter, John made his way in. He was a picture of inconvenienced teenage angst.
Cameron prepared the tools and laid on the bed. She said to John, "I'll need a minimum of 6.2 to a maximum of 8.7 continuous voltage to find the information that you'll need. The message was stored in my backup memory, I can turn it on, but I can't access it. Once it starts, I'll be offline for a bit, it was meant for you only and the remaining resistance."
John looked annoyed and asked, "So, you need us to record this?"
"You can't. It will just exceed that computer's memory."
John breathed heavy and stated, "So what is this supposed to be about?"
Coldly, John removed her chip. The world went black.
Light flashed before Cameron's eyes as her chip booted up. She willed herself into her back up memory and willed herself into her back up file.
John spoke into her microphone and asked, "Can you hear us?"
Cameron typed, "I can hear you. One second, I'm accessing the data now."
The scene flipped into video mode. The visual opened up suddenly like it had for Vick's Chip.
The face of an older John Connor appeared before them. He was fiddling with something.
There was a gruff human voice in the background, "You sure this is going to work?"
Derek blurted out, "Perry", turning sheet white. Sarah remembered the name from something Kyle had once said. She could tell the name meant a lot to Derek Reese.
Sarah looked at Derek. John simply looked at what he thought was his future face on the screen.
John Connor, supreme leader of the free human movement spoke, "I'm John Connor, I'm passing this information too you by a hijacked TOK-715 chip."
"I'll explain more about that in a moment. First, let me tell you that it's November 5th, 2027."
"Time travel and its repercussions is a screwball thing. To be honest, I wasn't planning on having to draft this message or anything like it, until 2029."
"The situation has changed. In October, our Chinese allies had the satellite killing missiles ready, two years early. We've already used them to cut Skynet's network and retreat paths."
"We were led into what looked like several easy victories in the worldwide offensive. It started with the central complex at SAC-NORAD, that at one point had actually led to victory and started the time war."
"We also downed the Los Angeles complex. Our allies have taken down complexes in Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Germany. All were done to victory, but it has inflicted heavy loses on humanity's side."
"Continued offenses are planned globally against other known complexes in China, Egypt, France, and Australia. Others are being attacked as they are found. We are fighting to win this war."
"This isn't your world though. At least, not yet, so let me try to communicate with you, in terms you'll understand."
"First, too myself in the past, I regret too inform you that you are going to have less time with a certain family member than you had hoped. Second, I'll go ahead and say that since you are watching this, I know that Sarah has passed away."
The John in the recording frowned slightly saying, "Mom was an extraordinary lady. In time, there are those among us that come to see her as a martyr or hero for everything we've at least tried to accomplish."
"I wish I could tell you that the passage of time will ease the pain of that loss John. In all honesty, it doesn't."
"Cancer sucks. You're going to lose a lot of loved ones to it in the coming days, after Judgment Day it spreads like wildfire."
The blood drained from John's face until he was white as a sheet. Sarah wasn't much better off. Derek watched obsessively chewing his nails.
Perry was as diplomatic as usual, "You might want to get to the point, John."
John Connor continued "First, let's get to the tactical end of this. If you are going to fight this war, I wanted to give you a full brief on what the next years are going to hold."
"I also wanted it too be something more than the series of handwritten notes left in marked graves that my predecessor left for me. I have recordings and bits of media that resistance has gathered over the years."
"As long as the chip of this unit remains intact, you can review this information at any time. Without a comparable chip of at least the T888 variety, you won't be able to store it."
"The TOK-715 is something unique so far. Her hardware is beyond anything we've seen, except Skynet itself."
"This is 2027. We're using Skynet built equipment far beyond anything man would have made in the same amount of time."
"As a technical question, Cameron is programmed to be consciously offline while this plays. So don't expect to get a question and answer session from her. We did this as a hopeful safety measure in case she was ever captured."
"She can pause and restart on a verbal command, just as an old style DVR. This brief is going to take a few hours."
"Once we are done, Cameron's conscious will reactivate. She will have other data that she has been recording and acting on under my specific orders."
"I'll start with the basics. First, by direct order, any soldier or terminator unit I've sent back has strict orders not to reveal too much about what is going on in the future. Any surviving resistance member can confirm this."
"This is to prevent wholesale contamination of the timeline. In addition, privately, in your protector's case, it was also expanded so you could have what time you needed to grow up. It was also done so that mom could die with the dignity of believing that humanity had not sunk as low as you will learn in course of this debriefing."
"Now we need you to understand what you're going to be looking at in the future. Major General Perry of the 132nd has a direct brief on what you'll be looking at as far as known Skynet assets from 2011 through 2027."
The leader of the 132nd began a two hour brief on every known weapon in Skynet's inventory. There were media glimpses starting with what Judgment Day actually looked like from the bunkers. There was the first contact with the machines under Skynet's control. There was then the steady evolving weaponry and machinery Skynet used.
Perry was merciless in his presentation. As the man Derek and Cameron had known, he pulled no punches showing the exact level of devastation and pictures of those who had not survived one onslaught after another, be it conventional or mass destruction.
There were clips of concentration work camps. There were captured Skynet testing clips of new military machinery killing humans. There were captured clips of human experimentation. There were clips of battles and overrun bunkers. It was sixteen years of genocidal warfare.
Each bit included the sight of watching new nightmares unfold. Many included audio clips of humans screaming for help, in shock, or in agony.
Sarah Connor watched every nightmare Kyle Reese had ever described unfold before her eyes. Then, there were things Kyle had probably never seen.
Derek watched his nephew. He saw the coming days in a detail the other two couldn't know. He also saw things that he'd been spared seeing before tonight.
John simply absorbed everything he'd blocked out recently. His palms were wet and his throat tight.
Perry reviewed the military side and what Skynet had brought against humanity worldwide. He also briefed on what human nations had survived and what alliances were in place.
When he was finished, Perry simply turned to John off the screen and said, "Your turn".
John's face returned and for an hour he began explaining the other things people never thought about. He explained the environmental effects of Judgment Day, then the growing food and clean water shortages.
He explained the brain power loses and the lack of skills that humanity critically needed at this time. Doctors, Engineers, Craftsmen, and others had become all too rare in the days ahead.
He explained about disease and the lack of logistics for everything an army would need. He then explained what humanity would have to do just to survive the next five years following 2027, as the population itself vastly exceeded what the planet could now provide.
John spoke directly saying, "In not just a military aspect, but a civilian one as well, mankind cannot sustain life on its own."
"A planet with an estimated billion people cannot grow enough food to sustain itself when much of its surface is effectively dead zones. We are facing large scale starvation and plague, unless things change course."
"Our hope is that by using many of the assets we've captured from Skynet that we can change the course of this fate. Many of the machines have the capacity to redirect global trade. We could move people in hot zones to safety."
"With luck, we might stabilize many areas enough that we can actually begin producing enough food to move most of humanity out of a scavenger existence. This current means of survival is one we cannot possibly sustain, even with one tenth of our numbers."
"While all of this might make you think that the human race is on one common page, nothing could be further from the truth. Beyond the typical problems of nationalism, political maneuvering, alliance issues, criminality, greed, and mistrust that has always existed among humanity, there are elements that have actually joined Skynet and are actively aiding in the purging of the human race."
"We've come to call these twisted individuals "Grays". They are a group of race traitors and war criminals that are literally helping Skynet attack, infiltrate, and exterminate the rest of humanity better. They've been fantastically effective."
"Even our own ranks of soldiers and those of our closest allies have been contaminated. Gray infiltrators actively work to sow mistrust, assassinate effective leaders, and bring out the more irrational parts of human nature."
Perry interrupted John for a second. "You sure you want to talk about this John?"
John Connor simply nodded, then continued saying, "They can hit anyone, anywhere, at anytime. My wife and kids were targeted by gray operatives."
John's eyes watered and his voice grew hoarse, "They raped and killed all three. Then left there bodies as easily found trophies of their work."
John fought for his composure and continued, "The only reason Cameron would be playing this recording earlier than 2010 is that a Gray threat has been detected that she can't contain. If this is true, things here might be much worse than I want to speculate and things there are more dangerous than you might have imagined."
"These people are going to do everything they can to rip you up from the inside out or assassinated you directly. They've caused widespread damage to the troops."
"We've speculated that the Grays are the reason that captured Metal units have been going haywire on our own people. We've even watched our army's morale tank on what appears to be the cusp of victory."
"Perry and I have seen the seeds of an active rebellion within our own ranks. We've tried our best to isolate and contain it. All without giving our loosely held together worldwide alliance reason to mistrust us."
"Loyal resistance fighters can fill you in better than I can speculate here. The ground situation is sure to change from the time of this recording. We are confident it will change for the better."
Major General Perry stepped behind John and offered, "Protecting, helping, aiding or hiding a Gray operative is an act of treason not just to this army, but the human race itself."
"By my direct order, the senior most officer remaining from the 132nd is to carry out not only this war in the past, but the removal and punishment of not only grays, but anyone who willingly works with them. That goes for people from our time or whatever time period you are in."
Perry continued, "So, this is done in earnest, I'm actively promoting whoever that person is to the position of Commanding Officer of the 132nd, until such time as directed otherwise by John Connor himself. Whoever you are, congratulations, the fate of the entire human race now rests in your hands. May God have mercy on your soul."
John Connor continued, "Once again, this is most likely the shape of things to come, if things remain the same. I honestly hope you can change that. There is after all, No Fate except what you make of it."
"We have sent others there to help you. Seek them out and you'll find the resistance has a greater footing in the past than we've ever had before."
"The best of the Human race is in this together. You are not alone. You will never be alone."
"This is John Connor Signing out. May God be with you."
Cameron's consciousness resurfaced and she saw three people who looked sheet white from her camera. She simply typed, "Are you ok?"
Sarah was the first to speak. She simply said, "Yes."
Derek was sweating and rubbing his hands on his jeans. John was in some mild shock where he wasn't moving at all.
Cameron typed out, "Do you need a break?"
Sarah again was the first too speak. She curtly said, "No."
Cameron wrote "I'll start with how well we work together in the future. It seems the most logical point in the future. I'll unload these as a series of briefs from my visual and audial memory. If you have questions, please just ask."
Cameron started with the file on how she remember John in the future as a commander. November 18, 2027 flashed on the screen and she showed them the Battle Of London starting with the mission brief on what they were after and her visual records of how large a force the resistance had mustered that day.
From there, Cameron opened the file from December 10, 2027. She detailed her goodbye to John and the resistance, as well as, what it was like to go through a temporal wormhole and arrive in the past.
Opening September 1, 1999, she detailed the encounter with Andres Martinez, as he hunted John Connor, and unloaded his war crime record for the three to read. She clipped out his confession of Gray operatives. Then, she showed his termination.
Opening November 12, 2007 she showed the group what she had seen in the ARTIE system. She showed her three identified targets that matched Andres Martinez's confession and her own private records.
Opening November 17, 2007, she detailed the beginning of tracking three Gray war criminals: Anthony Evans, Louis Rhone, and Roland Parker. She started unloading the current activities crimes on Anthony Evans. Opening November 25, 2007, she showed Anthony Evan's current crimes against humanity and his demise.
Opening November 26, 2007, she showed the beginning operation on tracking Roland Parker. She then showed the proofs on his bio-warfare project and answered several questions on how it would have virologically ended the non gray portion of the human race. She showed her response and action on December 16, 2007, killing Roland Parker, attacking the virus facility and the trap on the inside, all the way up to her shut down.
Cameron typed, "This is how I can answer you question on when I met Louis Rhone, Sarah. I also need John and Derek to pay close attention to the next file. I've learned why the T888s malfunctioned. I've learned why I malfunctioned."
Cameron showed her reactivation and torture by Louis Rhone. She highlighted certain things he said by typing them at the bottom of the screen. She needed them to know what Rhone had helped do to the resistance, how he had helped Skynet invent the timers on the diagnostics programs, and what Rhone had claimed credit for doing to Kate Connor and John's children. She then showed her torture by Louis Rhone and her capture by Skynet.
Continuing with her capture she transmitted Skynet's warnings, for the first time giving humanity a glimpse at the what they were fighting. She included every sneer that Skynet had thrown at her, right down to the delayed download showing the dead body of John Connor from his own troops.
When that was done she showed the file from tonight of Louis Rhone downloaded into a T1001 body. Derek and John hadn't even known of the fight yet.
Her three humans were quiet. Possibly shocked by everything going on.
They were human. It could be days until each had fully processed what they had seen.
Derek was the first to speak, "So your chip and these T888's were programmed like bombs to just go off?"
Cameron typed, "Yes."
Derek asked, "How do we fix that?" His attitude on the subject was shocking enough that Sarah and John both starred at him.
Cameron offered, "I think I can create a virus to undo the hard chip wiring. It would have to be plugged in externally and would require outside help."
John stated, "So we do this and she's fixed?"
Derek countered, "Might be fixed and we need her to test prior to going back into her body."
Sarah asked, "So what does Perry's order mean?"
Derek offered, "It means the highest ranking officer is in charge until further notice."
Sarah asked, "And who would that be since this is the day of no secrets suddenly?"
Derek responded, "Right now, that's me. With luck, we'll find someone higher ranking soon, like John was talking about."
Sarah asked again, "So is there anything else I need to know?" She was looking at Derek as she asked.
Derek cocked his pistol. He responded, "Yeah, I think I already know a possible gray operative or collaborator in the area. She needs to die tonight." His face was drained of his own humanity as he said it and his eyes were slightly misty.
John offered, "I can help."
Sarah responded, "No Derek and I will take care of whoever she is. You fix Cameron."
Derek and Sarah left unceremoniously. John simply looked at the screen.
He asked, "So what have you not said yet about this?"
Cameron responded, "Virsuses can be dangerous. It depends on the software's resistance."
John frowned slightly saying, "You could have told me most of this at any time."
"No, the John Connor I knew in 2027 forbade it."
John's face softened to a point Cameron had not seen since before his last birthday. He simply said, "So this might be the last time we talk?"
"I have one last question then."
"Did you mean what you said when you thought I was going to kill you?"
"Between the trucks?" As she wrote that last memory visually played in the background.
"That's complicated John."
"I seem to have time."
"I'm not good with explaining things to you anymore. This would be the best way to answer."
Cameron opened one more file. It was the last night she spent with John Connor in 2027 and the last conversation they shared.
John Connor watched the whole thing with teared eyes. Unable to respond, he helped Cameron find the place where the chip's third layer was hidden.
He connected the transmission wiring to the hidden chip compartment. He then asked, "Can you feel the connection?"
"I think so."
"I love you too. I always have and I always will."
Cameron activated the virus and her memory shuddered. Whether it was death or a new chance at life, her fate had begun...