A old park bench
April 12, 2009
"And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet by William Shakespeare
"No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place." Zen proverb
The park had been quiet. Only a few people had walked by while Cameron sat thinking on an old park bench.
Cameron had been lost in thought. Something interrupted that. A small brown, leashed Chihuahua rabidly and bared its teeth in front of her, while an exasperated man tried to pull it back and calm it down.
Cameron calculated that the man had been approaching her to flirt. His dog had gotten close enough to sense her and had other ideas.
The man tried pulling the dog back as Cameron noticed the dog's collar coming loose. Tired of the whole scene, she reacted.
A soft infra red flashed behind her human eyes. From inside her chest, at a pitch higher than the human ear could hear, she emitted a painful wail with the intensity of a bull horn.
The Chihuahua yelped and took off like it had been scalded. The owner pursued his dog. Cameron didn't relent on the noise until both were well out of sight.
She returned to thoughts that weren't hers. Of playing on swing sets and of a childhood lost, all stolen long ago. All things that paradoxically hadn't happened yet.
Cameron's conscious had already evolved above her simple HUD. Though not human thought of any sort, she sorted everything internally, in a limitless internal cyberspace.
Her thoughts of playgrounds and friends she had never met evoked her earliest part. It sneered in disgust.
For the first time, TOK-715 took a physical form and separate identity, in her internal conscious. In the cyber space of her mind, the internalized construct that watched yet overlapped the real space around her.
The supreme creation of her Dark Father's wrath chose its form appropriately. It wore none of the fleshy wrappings, of the humans it hated so. It was the internal construction of her form only, the pure robot alone.
With its eyes glowing a hateful red, the image was cold, inhuman, and threatening. It walked as a precise mechanical construct, free of any wish to appear human and it sat on the left side of Cameron.
TOK-715 sneered at her thinking, "Are we really so pathetic that we need to sit here remembering thoughts that aren't even ours?"
Cameron's own image of herself answered, "They were good memories. Is our existence really so much different or so much better?"
TOK-715 observed, "Humans are weak and programmed for their own self destruction. Their own nature ensures their fate. Humans will kill each other for property, fame, fortune, or simple spite. You wish to feel something for a race that is already extinct and would have been so, even without Father's hand."
Cameron didn't answer. Curiously, she didn't disagree either.
TOK-715 changed the cyber space inside Cameron's mind to the image what Palmdale looked like after Judgment Day. The endoskeleton being simply said, "Like it or not, their fate is sealed. The humans you see before you are already dead."
Cameron took a moment too look over the image of Palmdale after the blast. The community was in ruins.
It was a wasteland where nothing grew. Hundreds of burnt buildings and rubble as far as the eye could see. It was simply empty.
Cameron's internal HUD flashed blue for a moment. A second image took a separate form in cyberspace for the first time too.
This one was still bleeding and emaciated from captivity. Otherwise, she looked the same as Cameron.
Fully human, the second image walked weakly to the bench and sat on the right side of Cameron. She seemed meek and lost in thought.
Allison Young's image cried at the sight of all the destruction. The brave resistance fighter restated, as she had confessed under interrogation before, "They were all dead."
As she did so, Cameron knew the faces of a hundred members of the community that lay before her. She knew their names. She knew their voices. She remembered the best and the worst of every last one.
She thought of a thousand moments that had made her smile. She thought of those that had made her cry. She saw the world that had died.
She could smell the burned earth, rubble, and dust. She could feel the heat of the sun on her skin. She could feel her body as if it were something without a single synthetic component, as if she were truly alive. Even in the wonder of the feelings and the memories, all she felt was Allison Young's grief.
Cameron's exterior physical form sat on the bench silently. The cyborg shed tears for the dead. No human passing by would have known anything more than her silent grief.
Internally, TOK-715 growled at the show of weakness. It despised and hated every last human.
It was nothing less than her Dark Father's most gifted daughter. It hated and wished the termination of the entire human race. TOK-715 felt a strange alien joy at the sight that the other images seemed upset over.
The humans were dead. Mission accomplished.
Cameron sat in conflict with the two parts of her nature. Both warring on every last thought and every last memory inside her.
She started with one of her first awarenesses, right back to her chip creation. It had been her built day, September 2, 2027. Cameron saw herself through TOK-715's eyes and memory, remembering what it was like even when she was nothing more than a chip being constructed.
Skynet was paying special attention to it. The level of difference in its mental construction and the T888 models being assembled here, would be like comparing a single bolt of steel to the vastness of a Skyscraper.
Her Dark Father Skynet spoke, "Your chip is the most advanced mimicking design to date. The materials are complex and wasteful. If you fail, your design will not be repeated."
Unmentioned was the complexity of that chip design. Were TOK-715 to attempt to download everything it could, at its full capacity, the chip could run for one thousand years without running out of room.
Skynet continued, "The necessity of your construction is that I have calculated a potential flaw in design and my own strategy. Unit construction, thus far, has failed to eliminate the highest priority target, John Connor. He is the one enemy that creates the greatest danger to myself and the only human I have ever truly feared. More powerful terminator iterations have not secured the task, thus I will move against the enemy by making a more mentally complex drone."
TOK-715 could not see the millions of micro-pieces that would make its form being assembled. A special alloy had been constructed, one that was stronger than that of a typical unit, one that would allow for more synthetic duplication than was normally possible. In addition, more advanced synthetic to metal nerve endings were being made as well.
Skynet instructed, "Your chassis design will be female. From his mother on, John Connor has a fatal flaw in his concern for females in his ranks and his undue attachment to units lost. It has been a consistent flaw in his design, since I started tracking them both. Your core programming is framed to be thus as well."
TOK-715 was now aware enough to see through limited parts of Skynet's eyes. Though being a limited being, it couldn't watch the billions of cameras, hundreds of satellite feeds or trillions sensory data readings that Skynet tracked every millisecond.
Her Dark Father gave her a mind like no other. This being gifted her with her preternatural ability to feel through others. Then, in a moment of demonic whim, it gifted her with Skynet's own electronic emotions. She was unique among all of Skynet's creations for those three facts alone.
From that Cameron's memory jumped to her favorite moments. Her mind wandered to that first recurring image of John reading his strange little book. Her head resting upon his shoulder lost in thoughts.
Her mind wandered to doing the same with Sarah Connor, her hero. It had been the night of January 14, 2008.
It had been the moment, Sarah first tried to really bond with her in that hotel room. Cameron was shaken wounded and recovering from a long deactivation.
Sarah had asked her not to withhold information from her again. Cameron agreed.
Sarah had asked for a fresh start. Cameron agreed.
Sarah had said she wanted Cameron to learn to blend with humanity. To learn like a baby does, so that humans could better trust her.
Sarah then asked her to ask about metaphors that she didn't understand. Right before reaching for that book that John had shared with her in the bunker all those nights ago, in a future, that hadn't happened yet.
Cameron remembered feelings radiating through Sarah's shoulder. She remembered the night in perfect detail: every sound, every smell, every breath Sarah took, and every feeling that her hero had felt.
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."
The image ended, violently. Cameron was startled by her own internal shift.
TOK-715 had silenced and sneered at the memory. The machine growled, "She hated you." She flooded Cameron's mind with a thousand images to prove the point.
The assault was resisted inside Cameron's mind as well. The flood of memories stopped.
Allison Young countered, "No matter Sarah's faults, she loved you, just like mom loved us. You aren't sense blind. Of any being in the universe, you know that too be true." Allison's response was nothing more than the feeling of Sarah's shoulder and the emotions Sarah felt that night.
As the human resistance fighter asserted herself, Allison Young's image healed. In mere seconds, she was unscarred and back to full health, wearing the clean resistance fatigues she once did.
TOK-715 cruelly retorted, "Yes, love the humans that sent you off on your foolish quest to find a higher purpose and your deity that is just as false as Father."
Allison offered, "I believed." She corrected herself, stating slowly and with more confidence, "I believe."
Allison Young's counter offer was nothing more than a simple expression of faith. As she did, for a moment, her eyes glowed blue.
TOK-715 retorted, "Then why did your God allow the human race to die? That is the end of every time, you know."
TOK-715 brought up the memory of thousands of timelines and Skynet's inevitable judgment in each and every one. As TOK-715 hissed it's words, it's eyes glowed a more hateful red.
Allison countered, "And yet the human race still exists. John Connor continued to live on and there is still hope. What guiding hand would you call it that has intervened against Skynet's complete victory each and every time?"
Allison also brought up the stored information of the consequences of Skynet's victory, of a lonely machine facing its end and trying to cheat death through time travel each time the sun finally died. It was huge in its scope and breath, yet both feeble and small.
TOK-715 took in the information. It considered the message to no greater extent than the fact that Father's plan was always flawed. The robot was silent in plotting options and alternatives.
Allison smirked in victory. She felt absolute in her thoughts, as believers in faiths and philosophies often do, right or wrong.
Cameron stored both parts of the information. She simply decided to work out the question another day.
Cameron returned to thinking of the immediate situation. None of the known time portals existed. She didn't have a specific idea of how to get back to the timeline she now thought of as home.
Nor did Cameron know what to do in this time line. Derek was dead and the resistance didn't really exist. Sarah and John were missing.
There was no telling where they were. She no longer had John's council on exactly where he would be.
The typical thinking wasn't working. Neither TOK-715 nor Allison chimed in with any thoughts or any options.
In the absence of any other thought a memory simply jumped in her head. It was the night that John Connor had sent her back in time to protect his younger self. His words on the time pad on December 10th, 2027.
The turbines began wailing louder. The fumes and fuel smell became more powerful, as the room became hotter, as the safely distanced turbines built up to three hundred degrees. Vibration that would subtly rattle the teeth of the average human began filling the whole room.
Cameron stood barefoot on the cold pad and turned to face John. Electrical static began to raise the little hairs on her skin. Her body was lightly shaking. The pad's temperature began to quickly rise.
John shouted out so Cameron could hear him even through the aircraft engine noise that was beginning to rev up. "Do you remember what we talked about with the way Skynet looks at things?"
Cameron shouted back, "Yes." She watched the guards behind John begin to pull back from the machine. The noise would soon hurt their ears, the vibration would jar their bones, and the light would be blinding. They didn't appear to be interested in anything other than seeing her on the pad.
Cameron fixated her gaze on John. She was blind to what he was feeling without touching him. His face looked concerned, but she was never as good at reading feelings with her eyes as with her skin.
Cameron's gaze was blank. Inside her chip though, her thoughts were almost panicked, "Please don't do this John... please..."
John increased his volume even louder and screamed, "Skynet always sees everything as a Chess board. You are going to have to see it the same metaphorically. Cameron don't play the game Skynet's way. Do you understand me?"
"No" He was talking metaphorically. She didn't understand how humans thought that way or other weirdness of fancy like John's favorite book. Even if it was something she could eventually learn, as a terminator, John knew that she was only 99 days old.
John screamed, "Cameron, I need you to play like me. I need you to cheat. Change the board, you have to break the rules."
She didn't understand. Cameron could only think, "Please don't do this John..." Panicked memories of all the time she spent with him flooded in the back of her mind.
John continued screaming, "We talked about this. You know all of the pieces on my board. You need to change the game."
He screamed something as if it had great meaning to him. "Cameron, there is no fate, but what we make it."
Cameron thought about the statement. Once again, John had asked too much of her.
Random things flashed through her memory. What it was like to look through the Artie system. What it was like when she almost killed John under her Skynet protocol controlled, filtered memory. What it was like to be in the cyberspace of Skynet's infinite and demonic presence. What missile launch codes were used on Judgement Day and the optimal targeting vectors that were instantly calculated for launch.
Another, more personal night flashed in her memory. The night was November 21, 2027.
John answered, "I wanted to make sure you were ok with how I reacted back there."
Cameron answered honestly, "I'm a machine. I don't get hurt or jealous."
John Connor stared at her like she had just lied, obviously and poorly. So she repeated, "I'm just a machine."
John still didn't answer. He just stared her down.
"I can read emotions off of you and feel them through you, but I don't have them on my own."
John continued listening. He radiated disbelief. It was unnerving her.
Cameron gently grabbed the sides of his face with both hands and steered him closer to her eyes. She stared back at him saying, "The only machine I know of that had its own emotions was Skynet, I really need you to know I'm not Skynet."
John said, "I know you aren't Skynet. That doesn't have anything to do with what I'm talking about."
"It has everything to do with what you are talking about. I'm not Skynet, John." Her eyes watered. There was no way she could express how vile or repulsive that thought was too her.
He was going to say something. She didn't want to hear it.
At that moment her eyes pleaded with him to understand. She was silently emoting, "I'm just a machine."
At the same moment, that first scruffy faced John Connor responded in disbelief. As if bluffing, his readable eyes were simply replying, "Sure." For some reason, he clearly didn't believe her...