Cameron lay in wait. The bright, morning sunlight crept through the charred, skeletal structures of what used to be the Los Angeles suburbs. Scouts informed John that a T-888 was spotted in the area. Cameron volunteered to bring its chip back.
She was hidden from plain sight, crouching low with a plasma rifle in her hands. Cameron knew this was an area terminator’s patrolled regularly. It would only be a matter of time before she encountered the one spotted earlier.
Cameron noticed the rhythmic sound of boots approaching. She remained motionless and continued to peer out across the street from her cover. She saw a man running. He was breathing heavily. His clothes were ragged and ruined. Just as the man crossed in front of her hideout, Cameron reached down and flipped a radio switch.
A deafening explosion shook every structure in the area. Pieces of debris and concrete rained down as the blast echoed through the hills. Cameron looked over her cover and saw the man on the ground.
Cameron’s C4 and claymore trap had ripped the skin of the T-888 to shreds. It’s left arm was in pieces but remained attached. The terminator began to twitch. Cameron switched the safety of her rifle and erupted from cover.
She fired as she approached. Plasma bolts struck the T-888 in the body and arms. She needed to disable it but she had to preserve its CPU. She continued to shoot the other machine as it stood up.
The machine regained its balance and lurched forwards at Cameron. He struck her body with his functional arm. Cameron could almost see a look of surprise cross the machines face when she withstood his attack.
Cameron fired point-blank into the machine’s torso several more times before it grabbed the barrel of her rifle and snapped it in half. Cameron attempted to step back but the T-888 knocked her off balance. She fell backwards onto the street.
The machine jumped on top of her and began punching her. This surprised Cameron. She had underestimated the strength advantage larger terminators had over her. Her smaller frame meant she had less weight to throw around and a more compact hydraulic system. T-888s were about 25% stronger than her.
Standard Skynet hand to hand programming would not be sufficient. She needed to change her tactics. Cameron caught the T-888’s fist and struck the machine in the eye. Her punch pushed the terminator off and she got back up.
The T-888s left eye covering was severely damaged and it had difficultly seeing through the torn tissue. It paused to reassess the situation and tear the damaged organic sheath from it’s face, revealing its bright red eye.
Cameron picked up and threw a large piece of concrete debris at the machine. It struck the terminator in the head and it fell over, stunned. She acted quickly. Straining under its weight, Cameron rolled the wreckage of a burnt car onto the T-888. It was pinned.
She went around to car to the terminator. It was still struggling but it didn’t have the leverage or strength to move the car. Cameron took a combat knife and began to cut the T-888’s skin. After prying the port cover off, she removed the chip.
The machine finally stopped moving. The bright red light in its eye disappeared. Cameron stared at the CPU. She didn’t feel sadness. In fact, she felt quite the opposite. She felt good, even optimistic. Not only would John Connor gain a new guardian and ally, she also was successful in bringing a machine to her side.
Cameron unconsciously smiled. She placed the CPU in her pocket and began the long walk home. She arrived back at the base just before noon. She went straight from the entrance to the war room. She knew John had been planning a military operation, but she didn’t know where or when.
The machine immediately knew something was wrong when she approached the door to the room; there were no guards and it was silent. Normally, at any given time, the war room had two dozen people and two or three armed guards outside. Cameron pulled her handgun and opened the door.
The room was dark. The blue light of a bank of flickering monitors slightly illuminated the enormous room. They were displaying live footage from aerial reconnaissance drones. She could see a battlefield from above. There was little activity, aside from a few fires.
John was the only one in the room. He sat facing away from Cameron, at a desk in front of the largest screens. He had his hands on his head. The machine flicked the safety on her gun and put it away.
“Guys, I said give me a minute…” John didn’t sound well.
“John? Are you okay?”
John turned around. “Oh…I’ve been better.”
Cameron approached and sat down on the chair next to him. She noticed he had tears in his eyes.
“Are you injured?”
John shook his head and looked away.
“You’re not supposed to see me like this…no one’s supposed to see me like this.”
Cameron was worried. “What’s wrong?”
“This war. This war is what’s wrong…” John replied, standing up. He ran his hands through his hair.
“This war…this life…this whole fucking planet…” he said gritting his teeth.
John sat back down. “Early this morning, I got word that Skynet was abandoning a major detention facility about 35 miles north of here…since we control a good portion of that area, we knew they weren’t going to risk transferring the people inside.”
Cameron knew what he meant. If there was a chance that prisoners could escape, Skynet would rather exterminate them all, rather then risk transferring the population.
“We had to act fast…I ordered two strike teams to get those people out. One was a team of twenty; their job was to break the people out. The other team was a diversion. They had 638 people. I ordered them to hit the factory 3 miles north of the detention facility.”
The machine contemplated his strategy. A full frontal assault on a Skynet manufacturing facility in broad daylight was a bold move. Skynet would have rerouted the machines guarding the detention area, to aid in repelling the human force.
“Did they succeed?”
“The diversion worked perfectly. Skynet thought we wanted the plant and they hit the diversion team with everything they had…we got most of the people out of the detention area…forty three hundred, I think.”
“What happened to the diversion team?”
John stared at the screens. He looked disgusted with himself. “Skynet rerouted a pair of heavy bombers…nobody made it out.”
Cameron understood of John‘s tactics. John was aware that the Skynet response to an attack force that size, would be overwhelming. The diversion team was sent on a suicide mission.
“You knew they were going to die.”
John nodded. “Sometimes war is a numbers game…” He didn’t look like he was convincing himself.
The two sat in silence for a few minutes before John spoke again.
“It’s funny, isn‘t it?”
“What?” Cameron asked.
“My soldiers claim they want to see me human. They claim they want to see me vulnerable…but if I were to show any of that, if I were to show the slightest weakness, there would be anarchy. We would lose this war…so I keep this act up. People have to see me bullet proof…” John sighed.
The machine wanted to cheer John up, but she wasn’t sure how. She had to take his mind off the battlefield and the people he lost. She took his hand and placed the CPU in it. He looked at it and set it down on the table.
“Lets reprogram it and put it in.” Cameron grabbed the machine part and pulled John out of his chair. She led him to the exit.
The two walked to the metal bay and stepped inside. Cameron handed the chip to John and shut the door. He walked over to the computer and sat down. He was still thinking about the men and women he lost. Cameron attempted to change the subject.
“Why do you trust us?”
John looked over at Cameron. “Terminators?”
“Do you know about Serrano Point?”
“Yes, the nuclear power plant. It houses the time machine. The resistance controls it.”
John nodded. “When I was a child, Skynet sent a terminator back in time to kill me. A T-800 also followed. I sent him to protect myself.”
John’s eyes drifted as he thought about the short time he spent with the machine. Cameron smiled a little. She was glad his mind was on something else.
“His name was ‘Uncle Bob’.”
John smiled and nodded. “He protected me from the other terminator. He saved my life. He saved my mother‘s life. He even gave his life for me…”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“My first experience with a terminator was a good one. He was loyal, strong, fearless…I saw the amazing potential every single terminator has. In this war, the first experience the average person has is negative. Terminator’s are usually trying to kill them…you see what I’m saying?”
“Yes. Most people fear us. You saw the good we’re capable of.”
“Exactly. We couldn’t have taken Serrano Point back without scrubbed terminators. We would have lost the war if it wasn’t for humans and machines working together.”
The machine studied John as he spoke. Cameron was proficient at reading body language and facial expressions. She was designed by Skynet to read and mimic them flawlessly, so she knew precisely what John felt for Uncle Bob. It was obvious.
“You loved him.”
John paused. “…I did. How’s that for irony? The savior of humanity loving a machine.” he said with a chuckle.
He started the computer and looked at Cameron. “The only people I’ve ever truly trusted were my mother and father. It’s easier for me to trust a machine, because very few have ever let me down.”
“Is that why you don‘t have a wife?”
The expression on John’s face told Cameron he had heard the question a thousand times before. He sighed and walked over to the T-888 in the corner.
“That’s not the biggest reason.”
“If you were still a Skynet assassin, how many high priority targets would there be in this building?”
“Just one. You.”
“And if I had a child and a wife, how many would there be?”
Cameron understood what John was saying. “Three.”
“Exactly. It wouldn’t be fair to them. I’m married to this war, Cameron. There is nothing on this earth I want more than a normal life…but it wouldn’t be right.”
Cameron felt sadness for John. He could belong to no one because he belonged to his people and to the war. Cameron walked over to John and the other terminator. Part of the machine wanted to hug and reassure him but she didn’t want to overstep her bounds. She decided against it.
“You’ve still got me.” she said with a smile. “And Fred.”
John smiled back. “Well, let’s see how fast we can get him up and running.”
Over the next few days, Cameron and John worked on reprogramming the T-888. Whenever John had free time, they would both go the metal bay. Cameron showed John more efficient ways of bypassing security locks on the chip. When the work on the CPU was finally done, it had taken about 12 hours less than normal.
Fred powered up and stepped off the table. Standing at over 6 feet and weighing more than 300 lbs, T-888s were intimidating to begin with. Without their infiltration sheaths, most people found them terrifying.
John looked at Cameron with a smirk. “I think he’ll probably have to stay in the back of the base…”
Cameron smiled and laughed. It wasn’t very long lived or loud. It was merely a brief, quiet giggle. John stared at her in disbelief.
“Was that a laugh?”
Cameron wasn’t quite sure. “Was that wrong?”
John shook his head. “No. You’re just…full of surprises, that‘s all.”
Cameron smiled again. “I should probably show Fred around.”
Before she and the T-888 left the room, John spoke again. “Cameron?”
“Thank you…for everything.”
“Don’t mention it.”