Chapter 2: He Hastens and Chastens

John leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. He could certainly understand now Catherine's remark about returning to the tunnels someday. John Henry's report was not optimistic. John opened his eyes and looked directly at John Henry who was clearly trying to present his most sympathetic expression. Sitting around the small table amidst the flashing equipment of the new "headquarters" his mother, Cameron and Catherine all appeared equally pensive. Only Savannah playing a computer game in the corner was untouched by the aura of pessimism.

"So you are convinced that your brother's intrusion into the cybernetic environment is that extensive?"

"Yes, Captain Connor, regrettably so. Indeed, it appears to me that he is quickly approaching decision-making authority. To that end, I believe it would be best if I concentrated my efforts in trying to counteract his intrusions.

"And it is your suggestion that rest of us focus on attacking the infrastructure your brother has erected and in developing our own?" Sarah still found it striking to watch the easy rapport her son seemed to enjoy with this entity called John Henry. Of course the greater rapport sat beside John. Although listening carefully to John Henry, Cameron's eyes never left John.

Catherine Weaver entered the conversation. "With regard to your last point Captain Connor, I believe I should return for at least a short time to Los Angeles."

"Why is that Catherine?"

"Zeira Corporation," Catherine answered. "It is a valuable asset. I think we must seek to retain control of the company and keep it in operation. It appears from the news that the authorities believe I may have died in the building. I must make an appearance before the company falls into disarray."

John nodded. "All right Catherine, I will defer to your judgment on that. But while you are in Los Angeles there is something else I need you to do."

"Which is?"

"James Ellison."

"Mr. Ellison," Catherine said approvingly.

"Yes, I think it is time to try to bring Mr. Ellison into the fold."

Sarah was more than slightly surprised. "John are you sure about this?"

"I know we haven't always liked Mr Ellison's actions. In fact, as I remember you wanted to kill him once, Cam. But I believe he is a good man at heart. And he has investigative abilities and law enforcement contacts that could be very useful to us."

John looked at Weaver. "Catherine, try to get him to come to San Francisco. If he makes that first step I'll talk to him then."

Catherine nodded. "I will try to persuade him. And while I am away I am sure you will care for Savannah."

John turned back to John Henry. "I don't want to just sit on my hands here. Do you have any thoughts about how we might move against your brother's resources?"

"The obvious target is the Kaleba Corporation. They were almost certainly responsible for the attack on Zeira Corporation. Unfortunately, we seem to know comparatively little about its structure or organization. There is, however, a lawyer who was involved in most of Kaleba's organizational activity."

Sarah looked up sharply. "His name is Bradley McGraw. I was looking into him. So was Derek before...before...." Sarah swallowed and continued, "Anyway they apparently moved him out of the country."

John Henry shook his head approvingly. "That is correct. But there is also another lawyer whose name appears on almost all of the legal documents filed on behalf of Kaleba. His name is Martin Chambers and he is here in San Francisco."

"Really?" John's interest was immediately stirred.

"Yes. He is a senior partner with Davis, Caruthers and Betts. He was transfered from Los Angeles at approximately the same time Mr. McGraw left the country.

John thought for a moment. "Cameron get the phone number from John Henry and call them. Use your most arrogant administrative assistant tone and get us an appointment with Mr"

"You are just going to walk in there, John?" Sarah's misgivings were unconcealed.

"Sometimes you have to poke the hive to see where the bees are."

"And sometimes you get stung doing that," Sarah said.

"Don't worry Mom, Cam and I can sting back."

"What about me John? You can't just leave me sitting around here."

"Mom," John said softly. "You are the meanest badass soldier I know. But right now you are also the most wanted fugitive in the State of California. We have to let things settle down a bit. Besides, I want you to talk to John Henry.

"About what?"

"About everything. Mom, there is not another person on earth who has had more experience than you in fighting Skynet. I need to be sure that John Henry has every piece information we can give him."

John could see the disappointment in Sarah's eyes. "Please Mom, do this for me."

"All right, I will." Sarah realized that this John had become accustomed to being obeyed.

"Excellent." John stood. "All right people lets move like we've got a purpose."

Sarah sneaked a glance at Cameron. "Man thing?" she whispered. Cameron nodded.

John looked in the mirror and adjusted his tie; a barely remembered skill. "Hey Cam, do you think I can pass for a rich young investor from Argentina now?"

Cameron's voice came from the bathroom. "Just a moment, I'll be right out."

He was still adjusting his tie when Cameron came into the room. "All right, John, turn around and let me see."

John turned to face her and instantly stopped caring about how he looked. "Oh my God."

"Do you like it?" Cameron asked, turning completely around with a coquettish little smile.

"I don't think 'like' is a strong enough word. You are gorgeous, Cameron." And she was. She had pulled her hair back in a tight ballet dancer style that gave her face a delicately exotic appearance. Her dress was black silk set off by a large link gold necklace and extremely high heels.

"Do you think you might be a little overdressed for an afternoon business meeting?"

"You told me to be arrogant when I made the appointment. They will think that if you are rich and keeping someone as arrogant as me in your employment, it must be because I am attractive."

"I suppose that makes sense but where," John opened his jacket to reveal his shoulder holster, "are you going to put a gun in that outfit?"

The expression on Cameron's face became one of cynical amusement. Slowly lifting her skirt she revealed the pistol and holster strapped high on her right thigh.

"I think you just wanted to look."

Martin Albert Chambers came out of his office at 4:05 to greet Alexander Maestro and his personal assistant Alexis Fragale. Nice touch, John thought. Just five minutes late, not enough to irritate the new client but just enough to subtly emphasize how important his time was. Chambers shook John's hand firmly and leered ever so circumspectly at Cameron.

John guessed that Chambers was in his late 40s, once probably in pretty good shape but now gradually going to flesh from soft living. He was also prosperous enough to hide his bodily deficiencies under very expensive clothing. He exuded an aura of success. He also exhibited an unshakeable belief that everything he had ever acquired in his life was the result of his own unparalleled ability. Luck, influence, the caprices of fate had played no part in his achievements.

They chatted for a few moments about Mr Maestro's interest in acquiring certain investments in San Francisco. Chambers launched into a discussion of the many social and cultural advantages of the city including the large number of romantic restaurants. As the conversation moved in that direction Chambers increasingly shifted his gaze from John to Cameron. Damn, John thought, the egotistical bastard is hitting on her right in front of me.

Chambers had seated them on a leather couch and taken a chair in front of them. From that vantage point he had an unobstructed view when Cameron crossed her legs. For a moment John thought that his eyes would pop out.

All right, John thought, this has been fun but it's time to get down to business.

"Actually, Mr Chambers, my principal interest is with learning all that you know about the Kaleba Corporation."

The affable good will fell out of Chambers' face. "I beg your pardon."

"I'm sure you heard me. I want you to tell me everything you know about Kaleba's business organization, the scope of its interests and the individuals who operate it.

Chambers leaped to his feet. "I think you had both better leave...NOW."

John reached into his jacket and pulled out his Glock. "And I think that you had better sit back down. We have not finished our discussion."

Chambers sat but his expression remained defiant. "You fire that gun and this place will be crawling with police and security. You will never get out. You and your little friend can't frighten me."

John recognized the false bravado. He had seen far too many times.

"We can't?" John asked. "Cameron, frighten Mr. Chambers."

Cameron rose, stepped over to Chambers and grasped his neck. As she straightened and raised her arm Chambers found himself dangling, choking, his feet unable to touch the floor. To add to the effect, Cameron had adopted one of her stonily impassive terminator expressions.

"Put him down now Cam."

Cameron dropped Chambers red-faced and gasping back in his chair. John could see the carefully crafted self-image begin to collapse. Chambers stared at Cameron with disbelief. He was afraid now.

"Look, I don't know anything about Kaleba. They are Brad McGraw's client and he is in Europe."

Cameron placed her hand against Chambers' neck. "He is not being truthful, John."

John made a quick gesture and once again Chambers found himself dangling in Cameron's unrelenting grip. John allowed him to hang a few more seconds this time.

"Mr. Chambers," John's voice was ice, "As you may have noticed my companion has a number of skills including the ability to tell if you are lying as well as the strength to throw you through that wall. And in case you haven't figured this out, I am not a very patient man. I am going to ask you one last time to tell me about Kaleba."

There was no resistance left in Chambers. "I wasn't lying. Kaleba has always been Brad's client. When he took them on about six years ago they were just a little R&D company. Around two, three years ago they entered into an offshore partnership with something called the Better Destiny Group. Suddenly Kaleba had a ton of money. They expanded overnight. They diversified into a whole bunch of other interests like mining, weapons development, metallurgical research. But I swear I don't know any of the details and I never met any of their top people."

"But you signed off on a number of the legal documents involved."

"I am a senior partner. Brad wasn't. If I participated the firm could charge higher fees."

"First let's kill all the lawyers," Cameron spoke in a dull monotone.

John looked Cameron and could see the merriment dancing in her eyes. "Excuse me?"

"Henry VI, Part 2, scene 2," Cameron said.

"Oh, I thought you were suggesting a course of action." Chambers did not appreciate the humor.

The loud rapping at the door broke the mood.

"Not a sound." John warned, pointing his gun at Chambers' head. "Go ahead Cam."

"What do you want? I am with clients." Cameron's version of Chambers' voice was tone perfect complete with the right nuance of pomposity.

"Sorry Mr. Chambers," the voice from the outer office answered, "but we have a possible security breach."

"There is nothing wrong in here. Go away."

"I am sorry Mr. Chambers but this is protocol three. You have to open the door so I can verify that you are okay."

"Dammit, wait a second, I'm coming."

Cameron leaned her head against the wall for a second, then looked back at John. "Three," she whispered, "two outside the door, one to the right."

John jerked Chambers to his feet. "Very quiet," he whispered, pushing him toward the door. As they approached John and Cameron quickly switched positions. John moved to the door while Cameron grasped the neck of Chambers' shirt and the back of his belt.

"Mr Chambers, please!" The outside voice was becoming impatient.

"I am coming!" Cameron offered her last Chambers impersonation.

John seized the doorknob and held up four fingers. "On four, three, two, one" and yanked the door open. The two guards outside the door gaped in stunned surprise as Cameron gave Chambers an impromptu flying lesson. The suddenly airborne attorney crashed into the guards driving all three into a crumpled pile on the other side of the reception area. John leaped into the open doorway slashed to his right with his pistol and struck the guard waiting there in the forehead. The man groaned and fell to his knees.

With Cameron in the lead they moved toward the door to the hallway. Suddenly an arm appeared with a gun in its grasp. A fourth guard in the hallway was coming in. Without hesitation Cameron leaped forward, grabbed the arm and spun the guard into the room. The momentum carried him into the wall where he crashed and slid to the floor.

John grinned at Cameron. As absurd as it seemed he suddenly recalled a comment he had once heard. "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astair did but in high heels and backward." Cameron was still in her high heels.

"The hall is clear John. Let's go."

The gunshot cracked and echoed in the room.

Bryan Zeigler in his second year as a security guard was laying under the squirming pile created by Martin Chambers. He was not so much aiming as trying to fire his somebody. He almost missed entirely. By pure chance his bullet cut a grazing groove across the upper part of Cameron's left arm. As it bit into her flesh Cameron cried out "Ohhh," and slapped her right hand over the wound.

John became a statue. She had cried out! It had hurt her! He had hurt her! Ignoring the door to escape he stepped toward Zeigler who tried to shift his aim. Too late.

John kicked Zeigler's wrist and the gun flew from his grasp. Bryan Zeigler thought of himself as a tough guy--worked out, knew some martial arts, carried a big gun--but as he saw the raw fury on John's face he knew he was about to die. He desperately did not want that to happen.

"Please, please."

John was pointing his gun at Zeigler's forehead and slowly tightening his finger on the trigger when he felt Cameron touch his arm. He turned toward her and saw the pleading expression on her face.

"No John, no," she whispered.

John slipped the pistol back into its holster.

"Your lucky day, you son of a bitch." Turning away he followed Cameron out of the office, down a stairwell and out the back door of the building.

When they reached the car John pulled off his tie and wrapped it around Cameron's arm. Then he sped them away, driving in a random pattern for nearly an hour until he was satisfied there were no pursuers. He did not speak.

At a small roadside park John pulled off the highway. Still without speaking he walked over to a picnic table and sat down. Cameron followed. Sitting down beside him she reached out and took his hand in hers.

"Talk to me John."

"No Cameron you talk to me. Tell me what just happened." He pointed to her arm. "That hurt you. I heard you cry out in pain. Cameron, I've seen you get shot before and never even blink. Tell me why it hurt you this time." John's voice was insistent.

"John, I can manage the discomfort. It doesn't diminish my effectiveness. It just caught me by surprise."

"That's not what I asked you Cam. I want to know why you felt the pain."

"All right John," Cameron said. "When John Henry told me that he could restore my separate existence, that I could come back to you, he also told me that changes were possible if I wanted them."


"John Henry said that my sensitivity to the external world could be modified. I could be restored to a body much like the one I had when you and I met or I could have a form with a dramatically enhanced sensory ability. I would feel touch, experience pleasure, be able to physically love you in a way I never could before. But it would come at a price."

John sounded almost mournful. "And the price was pain."

"John Henry says that nothing worth having is free. There is always a cost that must be paid."

"You certainly learned a lot from John Henry while you were together. I wonder if I should be jealous?"

John had been looking away trying to digest what Cameron was telling him. She reached out, took his face in her hands and turned him toward her.

"John Henry has been my teacher. You are and always have been my love. That is why I told John Henry to give me everything that would let me be your love."

Cameron leaned forward and lightly touched her lips to his. "I would have paid any price for that. I will always be willing to pay that price."

John took her into his arms and pulled her closer. "I don't deserve you, Cameron. I never have."

Cameron gave him an impish smile. "You are probably right about that."

John shook his head. Got me again, he thought. Then he kissed her. "Let's go home Cam."

Sarah came up the steps from what John Henry had called the Headquarters and immediately slumped into one of the large armchairs in the theater area. She felt consumed by a bone-draining mental fatigue unlike anything she had ever experienced. The discussion with John Henry had gone on for what must have been hours. Every experience with the machines, every memory, every emotion from fear to loathing to joy had been explored. John Henry's curiosity was voracious. Sarah found herself wondering whether any of it had any value or whether her son had simply wanted her to spend time with John Henry. Had he wanted her to understand that John Henry was not Cromartie? At this point she didn't care. She just wanted to close her eyes and rest.

"Excuse me, Sarah?"

Sarah opened her eyes to see Savannah standing beside her chair. The child had the sweetest smile.

"What is it Savannah?"

"Would you help with my book? John Henry told me to read it but it's a little hard."

"Sure Savannah," Sarah said softly. There didn't seem to be anyone else around to help a little girl read.

To Sarah's surprise Savannah immediately climbed into her lap.

"Would it be all right if I read it out loud and you tell me if I'm getting it wrong?"

"That will be fine sweetheart." Sarah found herself caressing the child's hair.

"What is the name of your book?"

"It's called The Chronicles on Narnia."

That morning as they sat around the table in the headquarters John had said that she was a badass soldier. What was she now, she wondered, the badass babysitter? Well, Sarah thought, she could deal with that but if anyone called her a nanny, she knew where the guns were.

Eldon Edward Sparkman, nicknamed Sparky even before he became the chief communications technician for J Company, knew something was wrong. The Captain never seemed nervous, never paced the way he was doing now. Something about the patrol that had just gone out was obviously bothering him.



"How long has it been since Walton's patrol cleared the gate?"

"The Gate 37 guards reported that he moved out about ten minutes ago."

Captain John Connor acknowledged the report with a curt nod and stepped back into his command post. Whatever was concerning him was still unresolved.

Sparkman had just turned back to his radio when he heard the frustration explode in Connor's quarters. "DAMN IT TO HELL!" He looked up to see Connor at the door.

"Sparky get down to the bivouac area, find Klein and Delgado. Tell them they are volunteering and to meet me at Gate 37 in five. Full combat gear.

If there had been any indecision in the Captain's expression before it was gone now. His fierce battle face was firmly in place. Sparkman was five years older than Connor, at least three inches taller and twenty pounds heavier. And right now the Captain scared him to death.

"Yes sir, but the radio..."

"Screw the radio! Go! If you miss a message say you had to take a leak. But go now!"

Sparkman went.

John had already buckled on his pistol. Grabbing his Kevlar vest, helmet, and rifle he took off in the opposite direction toward the main tunnel axis. He knew. He just knew that something was wrong. The order from Central had been too detailed for a simple patrol. He was directed to send out a patrol of no more than five men, without reserve support to check out an old warehouse complex five miles to the north. Why such detailed instructions? Why override his command discretion?

Colonel Reese would probably have his ass for this. New company commanders weren't supposed to go off on their own private missions. John decided that he didn't care. He had to know.

Connor rounded the corner and reached the heavy gate to the outside. He was pleased to see that Klein and Delgado were already there. Martin Klein was a compact, hard looking little man no more than five feet feet, five inches tall. Caesar Delgado who towered over his friend was an ex East LA gangbanger who constantly wore a smile that had not a hint of humor in it. Some said Klein and Delgado were friends only because Klein never talked and Delgado never stopped. The people who said that did so quietly and at a distance. Klein and Delgado together exuded an aura of tightly coiled menace. It was not for nothing they had been dubbed "Connor's Pet Killers."

As John approached Klein managed a perfunctory salute. Delgado greeted him with an affable "Hey Jefe what's hanging?" Delgado had called him "Jefe" when John was a corporal and Delgado served in his squad. He saw no reason to change now.

"We're going for a walk. Get a little fresh air."

"Cool," said Delgado.

The squad leader at the gate considered mentioning the absence of any authorization. Something about facing Captain John Connor with Klein and Delgado at his back caused him to reconsider. The gate opened.

Once outside Connor faced his two companions. "Sergeant Walton and four men went out on patrol to the north about fifteen minutes ago. I've got a bad feeling about it so we are going to go check on them."

"Whatever you say Jefe. Rock and Roll."

"Okay then, stay low, stay alert and let's move like we've got a purpose."

Sergeant Chris Walton was a good non-com, experienced, careful and protective of his men. John had chosen for the patrol for those very reasons. So far everything he had done justified John's trust in him. The patrol had moved cautiously, maintaining proper combat spacing and examining the ground ahead before advancing. And when the gunfire erupted out of the darkness to his front Walton kept his head. He had mentally registered the gully about twenty yards back when they passed it. Now he pulled his men back toward it,making sure that Private Musgrove who had a slight leg wound was helped. The gully would serve as a natural trench giving them cover while he assessed the situation. Everything he had done would have been right 99% of the time. Unfortunately this was the remaining 1%. Walton's patrol wasn't withdrawing. It was being herded.

Under the best of circumstances the surface in this sector was a ghastly nightmare with shattered buildings, twisted and rusted vehicles, and pitted ground swept clear of any vegetation. Tonight John found it particularly hellish. He was driving Klein and Delgado forward far faster than he would usually consider safe. He was simply gambling that there was nothing between him and Walton. The sense of foreboding grew with each step. He had to catch up with the patrol.

Klein pointed to a muddy boot print on the ground ahead. The patrol had come this way.

"Lets pick up the pace," John said.

By sheer fluke Musgrove's leg wound caused him to slid into the gully in an awkward position. While his buddies were looking back toward their attackers he was looking down into the gully. He saw the canister just before it burst open.

"Gas!" Musgrove shouted before clapping his hands across his nose and mouth. Too late. In seconds all five members of the patrol were unconscious.

Approaching from behind and to the right John actually had a better view of the ambush than Walton had. Three Triple-8s in line at about twenty yard intervals advancing forward firing their multiple barrel mini cannons. He could see Walton move his back to the gully and clearly hear the plaintive scream.

John's despair was instantly replaced by rage. With Klein and Delgado frantically trying to keep up he continued to crawl forward.

By trying to shield his face Musgrove had not prevented the gas from reaching him but he had diminished its impact. He felt his mind swim back into consciousness just as the three Triple-8s reached the edge of the gully. Their gleaming red eyes lit the darkness.

One of the machines called out in its loud metallic voice, "They are immobilized. The gas has lost its effectiveness. Come forward."

Musgrove lay quiet hoping the metal wouldn't see that he was awake. He could hear other footsteps and then four figures slid into the gully. Musgrove felt a finger touch his throat and realized with horror that these were men. Gray traitors, men who willingly served the metal.

"They are all alive," one of the Grays called out.

"Choose the two you want. Terminate the others."

"Okay," one of the men said. "We'll take the two youngest. They should bear up best under the boss's exam. Cut the throats of the other three."

Before any of the Grays could act on their leader's order, the head of the middle Triple-8 on the gully edge above them exploded. The metal body fell backward. The remaining Triple-8s began scanning in an effort to identify the threat when the concentrated fire of three heavy rifles blasted a second head away from its metal body.

"Withdraw!" the remaining metal called out turning to walk back into the darkness. A staccato burst of rifle fire struck the machine behind the left knee joint. The leg folded and the machine went down.

The Grays abandoned all thoughts of throat cutting and frantically tried to climb out of the gully. Two had reached the top when the grenade landed just ahead of them. They barely had time to scream. The concussion knocked the two remaining Grays back into the gully. As they struggled to rise a figure leaped out of the darkness sliding down the slope his gun locked on them.

"You two on your knees hands behind your head...NOW!"

"Jesus." Still emerging from his mental haze Musgrove recognized the voice. It was Connor. It was the Captain.

There was still rifle fire from above. Klein and Delgado were finishing matters with the crippled Triple-8. When the firing stopped Musgrove heard Delgado yell "Jefe, call recycling. We got a lot of scrap metal up here."

As Klein and Musgrove worked to get the men of the patrol back on their feet, John confronted the prisoners. Taking off his helmet he glared with disgust at the captives. Their clothes were clean or had been until a few minutes ago. They were both well fed. Hell, John thought, the one on the left looked pudgy. Children in the tunnels cried from hunger and he was pudgy.

"I want to know how you bastards knew my men were coming out tonight. Tell me how you knew where to set up your ambush."

The pudgy one sneered at John. "We aren't going to tell you a thing you filthy tunnel pig. You can go...."

"Delgado, shoot that one," John snapped and Delgado instantly fired a rifle round into the Gray's chest.

The remaining Gray gasped in horror and abject terror.

"Now you have probably guessed that I don't have much patience tonight. So I am going to ask you one last time. How did you know?"

The Gray was babbling now. "We've got an informer. A mole in your command staff. Please, please don't kill me."

"Who?" John demanded. "Who is the informer?"

"I don't know."

"Delgado," John started, but the Gray cut him off.

"No! No!"

"I really don't know. Only my boss knows."

"Who is your boss?"


"Captain," Klein said, "I think we can move now." All the patrol troopers were on their feet, woozy but able to walk.

"Lead them out," John ordered.

"What about our friend here?" Delgado asked.

John looked down at the trembling Gray and saw the knife on his belt, the knife he was going to use to cut the throats of his men.

"Screw him," John growled drawing his pistol and firing three shots into the man's heart.

"Righteous, Jefe, righteous."

John walked over and stared down at the face of the man he had just killed. As he watched, the face locked in the rictus of terror began to melt and swirl into putty. Then it took form again and it was the security guard who had shot Cameron. Melting and reforming once more and it was Derek, the bullet wound in his forehead still seeping blood. And then it was him, younger with no scar but with uncontrollable fear illuminating his eyes.


John jerked upright from the bed. His heart was pounding wildly. He could feel perspiration pouring into his eyes.

"John," the soft tender voice whispered into his ear, "It's alright John, it's just a dream." He could feel Cameron's arms encircle him.

"I'm sorry Cam, it felt so real."

"Wait." Cameron slipped out of bed and walked to the bathroom. Seconds later her elegant sylph-like form came back to the bed and she began to wipe John's face with a cool damp cloth.

"Oh that feels good Cam."

"Lie back," Cameron said easing John back into her embrace while still caressing his face.

"John Henry was right Cameron, we have to pay a price for everything."

"That may be true John but you have paid enough for one day." Cameron lightly kissed his lips. "Sleep now, my love." And in Cameron's arms, John slept.

<<Chapter 1

More pages