Kathenson's Fan Fics

Alternate Happenings
By Kathenson

Dear Readers,
The aching question circled in my head until i couldn't ignore it any longer. What if Cameron was responsible for Riley's death? One of the most pivotal moments in the entire T:SCC season two storyline could only be played two ways. Cameron either did or didn't. Of course in the actual series she spared Riley's life but what would have happened if she hadn't?

The wonderful thing about fan fiction is there is no wrong answer. This is my alternate happening.

Chapter One
What must be done? What must be done.

She had done the right thing, followed her programming. Cameron let her slender fingers relax and the dead figure of Riley Dawson crumpled to the ground, the blond girl’s face twisted in an unsettling mask of blood draining repose. Seconds later the door leading into the Connor’s garage was yanked open. Cameron swiveled around to find John standing just inside the doorway, a look of pure shock blanketing his youthful features.
“What have you done?!” He snarled. He shoved passed his robotic bodyguard (which is quite a difficult thing to do) and knelt beside Riley’s lifeless body.
What had she done? Cameron caught herself reflecting on her past action.

“I did what I was programmed to do.”
“She was a threat. I couldn’t let anything happen to you.” Cameron’s voice came out surprisingly soft, as if she was suddenly ashamed and unsure of herself. John didn’t buy it for a second.
“I told you to leave Riley alone!” Hatred burned in his eyes. Again something pricked inside of Cameron, the same odd sensation that had flooded over her when an involuntary twitch of her fingers killed a bird earlier that day. He always seemed to leave her internally conflicted.
“I know.” Her gaze fell on her left hand. It twitched again, more violently this time.
“Then why didn’t you listen to me?”
“I did.”
“Not you, or least not you now.”
“Oh you mean Future John?” He spat the phase with great contempt. “I’m sick and tired of all your BS excuses” John spluttered off into silence.

Cameron stood awkwardly in one place, once again aware of fragileness of human emotions. She said nothing in response. Finally John met her piercing brown eyes. They seemed to dull in the wake of his fiery gaze. With a shuttering breath he stood to his feet, never taking his eyes off his metal guardian. His voice was thick with disdain and regret.

“You can’t stay here anymore...You have to go”
His words didn’t register. Leave? That was impossible.
“I can’t” she said bluntly.
“NOW!” John grabbed Cameron’s nine millimeter off the work bench and leveled the powerful weapon at her.
“I can’t. You know I can’t”

The handgun shook like a leaf caught up by a gust of wind in John’s hands. Cameron stared back at him, not moving, not saying anything. After was seemed like an eternity of unadulterated tension John lowered his weapon and let the gun clatter to the grimy cement floor.
“Don’t hate me” Cameron said, trying in vain to comprehend the new expression that had formed on John’s face in those long moments of one-sided hostility. The look was like nothing else Cameron had ever seen before, sadness, anger, gut-wrenching anguish and above all overwhelming confusion.
“I understand it must be hard being John Connor....I’m sorry.”
John stared at her for one very long instant then shook his head, bitterness lacing every word.
“No. You can’t feel sorrow. You can’t feel anything.”

Cameron said nothing in return. There was a long pause. John strode passed her and without a second glance over his shoulder he stated as if all his previous feelings had fled as rapidly as they had sprung up.

“Burn her body. I don’t care where or how you do it but when you’re finished bring me the ashes...What does your programming have to say about that!?”
There was another long pause. Cameron finally spoke.
“It says you’re ahead of schedule again, on what you need to learn.”
John’s face contorted, anger leaning every crease.
Well screw the schedule!” and with that John let the garage door slam behind him, leaving Cameron all alone.

This seemed to be the day of firsts for John Connor’s sworn protector. If he had stayed one minute longer he would have witnessed something truly extraordinary. Not Cameron as Alison Young, not re-programmed Cameron, not even Cameron trying to manipulate John with a display of purely human emotion but simply Cameron herself stood over Riley’s body and let one single tear slide down her cheek. John Connor wasn’t the only one ahead of schedule.

Chapter Two
Damage Control

Sarah Connor could not meet her son’s eyes. Even for her after all she had seen and done the pain reflected in his irises was too much for her to take. John sat at the kitchen table, a stack of research on one side of him while the other was dominated with several high powered laptops. He picked listlessly at his bowl of generic frosted flakes. Sarah finally broke the deafening silence.

“What did Cameron do with Riley’s body?”
John glanced up from the computer screen, his face emotionless and cold.
“I told her to burn it yesterday, haven’t heard from her since.”
“It shouldn’t take that long.” Sarah knew she shouldn’t be short with him but she was tired, tired of having everyone close to her son injured or killed. Was this the one life she could offer her only child? Sarah hated asking questions she already knew the answer to.
“I know that Mom. What do you want me to do?”
“Have you tried calling?”
“She won’t pick up. She left me a message on my voicemail.”
“She simply said that she had the chance to kill another bird and she didn’t.”
Sarah tried hard to hold back the judgmental snarl tugging at the corners of her mouth but John had always been able to read her like an open book. She tactlessly changed subjects.

“I called Derek and told him what happened.”
“Fine.” came John’s brusque reply.
There was a long tension filled pause. Sarah heaved a heavy sigh.
“We can’t let this continue, her killing whoever she wants- it has to stop.”
John’s fist slammed onto the table sending his half empty bowl of soggy cereal rattling.

What do you expect me to do!? I can’t control, her, no one can! There’s still something up with her chip-”
“Then fix it.” Sarah said fighting the anger rising in her voice. She was met with silence.
“If something is wrong John then fix her. I know you can do it-”
“I didn’t say something was wrong.” he countered. Sarah shook her head in utter bewilderment. Why did he feel like he had to defend Cameron all the time? He owed her nothing.
“I don’t understand” Sarah started in but John cut her off.
“Don’t act like Riley’s death came as a surprise to you.”
“It didn’t.”
“Then stop acting like you care!”

It was Sarah’s turn to go on the offensive.
“I didn’t want this to happen. I never wanted you to get hurt but you knew by involving Riley in your life it had the potential to put her in grave danger.”
“So I guess this is the part of the argument where you get to say I told you so

John stood up from his seat and hurriedly wiped his jacket sleeve across his face. Sarah was about to answer but John’s Linkin Park ringtone cut off any opportunity for rebuttal. He fished his cellphone out his jeans pocket and glance down at the LCD. Simultaneously John’s face hardened. Brushing past his mom he took the call in the other room.

“What do you want?”
Cameron’s voice came through clear and quiet on the other end.
“Who is Jesse?”
“Before Riley died-”
“You mean before you killed her.” John fired back. Cameron did not deny the truth.
“Yes, before I killed her. She mentioned that this was Jesse’s plan all along. That we had played into her hands, all of us. She sounded distressed.”
“You sure that wasn’t because you were choking the life from her?”
“Yes, I’m sure... Who is Jesse?”
“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“She sounds important. Maybe she is the one who told Riley about the future.”
“Where is Riley’s body now?”
“Gone....Do you have a picture of her?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“I was just wondering...”
“Well stop.”
“Derek, where is he?”
“Still out chasing down some lawyer.”
John was getting fed up with the whole conversation. He quickly cut to the chase.

“Cameron where is Riley’s body?”
There was a short pause.
“I made something for you. You have to come to me so I can show you.”
John lost all composure.
“I don’t have time for this!”
His outburst didn’t even faze Cameron.
“Twenty minutes out of town, going north. Keep to the right, I’ll be waiting.”
“CAMERON-” but it was too late, she had already hung up. John stared at his phone for a second, and contemplated smashing it against the brick fireplace, but stuffed it back in his pocket instead. Grabbing a set of keys off the key ringer he headed for the back door.
“Where are you going?” Sarah called out making John turn and face her.
“Out. I’ll be back soon. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Sarah watched her son exit out the back screen door. Several minutes later she heard the family’s truck start up and pull out of the driveway. Sarah turned back to the kitchen table, to the array of papers and dead ends. They seemed to be as almost as jumbled as her thoughts...almost.

Chapter Three
Remember me? I remember you.

Memory. Cameron still didn’t fully understand the word. She had so many thoughts conflicting at once. Who was this Alison girl who kept sprouting up at the most inopportune moment? John constantly thought she was using him for her own gain, but not even Cameron herself had much control over what went on in her head anymore.

She stood by the edge of a small side road, underneath the dappled shadows of a huge ancient oak, its knurled trunk weathered and worn by the mountainous elements.

Cameron was broken and she knew it. John wouldn’t fix her, John wouldn’t even trust her but the question begged to be asked, what had she done anything in recent weeks to merit and fortify his trust? Her previous actions were not foggy. She could not forget that fact that she had tried to terminate the one reason she existed. Without John Connor, Cameron was nothing. He knew this too but did he even care? Could she really take the blame for her reverted programming? Should she take the blame?! There were ghosts in her chip, events and “feelings” Cameron couldn’t understand or fully explain. Because of her damaged software and hardware she knew she was unstable, unpredictable...dangerous.

“I can’t let anything happen to him.” She announced to no one in particular. A flock of tufted Cedar Waxwings was her only company and even they kept their distance. Could birds, like dogs sense the difference between a real human and a cybernetic organism? She had read about crazy people. Could robots go out of the minds? So many questions, very few answers. Her musings were put away temporarily as John swerved around the corner and skidded to a stop several feet away from her shaded position. He hopped from the families’ massive Dodge Ram 2500 and stood with his hands stuffed deep into his hoodie jacket pockets by the trunk’s heavy Quad Cab driver’s door. He would make her come to him.

Cameron made her way silently to his side.

“What is this all about?” He snapped, his jaw still clenched from their earlier phone conversation.
Cameron stared at him for a long while until he shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other. He hated when she looked at him like that, like she was drilling into his head, uncovering his hidden motives and his unspoken sentiment. There was nothing blank about the set of eyes that stared back at him.

“You are wrong....I am sorry for your loss. It is lonely being John Connor, now and later.”

John looked passed Cameron and roughly cleared his throat. He wanted so badly to forgive her. She shared his burden, tried her best to help him carry it but there would always be some kind of wall separating them. No matter what, she could be nothing more than a super intelligent killing machine.

“Give me one reason I should believe you. You lie to me...” John said, attempting to steady the slight tremor welling up in his throat.
Cameron’s eyes didn’t drift for a second.

“I do.”
“Do you lie to Future John too?”
“The situation is different then.”
“Because Future John has already learned everything he needs to know.”
John sighed and shook his head, not wanting to accept her explanation. Why did everything seem so simple when she said it and yet the information got all complicated as soon as he started thinking about all that her statement implied?

“What am I doing here, out in the middle of nowhere?”

Cameron didn’t answer. She turned and started walking up the grassy knoll, flanking the road. John had no choice but to follow. She was waiting at the top when he finally reached the crest of the hill. John didn’t know what to make of the odd assortment of items that were laid out at the base of large gray boulder. It had been stripped over the moss growing in patches and buffed smooth by some unseen sander. His eyes were automatically drawn to the writing, newly engraved on the rock’s surface.

Riley Dawson

If I could reach up and hold a star for every time you've made me smile, the entire evening sky would be in the palm of my hand.

From behind him Cameron began murmuring, the words she spoke brought on all the emotions that John had tried so hard to hold back. Why was it Cameron, the robot, unfeeling in the truest sense who understood what was going on in his head, his heart, his very soul.

“Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life's buried here,
Heap earth upon it...Oscar Wilde, 1881."

John didn’t know what to say so he said nothing and the silence was left to its own. He read the chiseled text again, soaking in the fullness of the words. Finally he managed to pull himself together enough to ask.

“What does the rest of this supposed to mean?” He questioned his gaze encompassing a bag of baby carrots, a box of red delicious apples and two disposable cups from the local smoothie shop.

“Peachy keen was her favorite flavor.” Cameron replied as if no other explanation was necessary.
John turned to look at her. The expression on her face could say only one thing without so much as a spoken sentence. She was pleaded for his forgiveness.

"Where's Riley's body?"
"I burned it like you said."
"And the ashes..."
Cameron walked to the other side of the rock and came back with a medium sized copper urn. She silently handed it over to John. He stared down at it, suddenly unsure on how to proceed. Cameron reached into the pocket of her trademark purple leather jacket and produced a small notebook and pen.

"If you can't cry you can always write her a letter." She placed the writing implements in John's free hand.
"I'll leave you alone." Cameron headed back down the hill but John stopped her.

She turned back.


John swallowed hard.

"I don't hate you...You were protecting me the only way you know how, I can't fault you for that."

Cameron nodded but still looked unsure.

"But...do you forgive me John?"

It took a while for him to answer. Finally he simply said.

"I don't know. It might take some time..."
"I understand."

This time John let her go. In that simple exchange of dialogue something had changed. Unknown to either of it's two captives a small crack, barely visible in the surrounding solidity that stood between John and Cameron since that fateful day where each of them had made some very difficult decisions, splintered it's way down the invisible bulkhead. Like many walls before it, this one was also meant to fall.

Chapter Four
Illusions of Grandeur
Derek Reese had expected the call from his sister-in-law concerning John’s first real love interest but even now sitting in the sweltering hot L.A. traffic his blood boiled and it had absolutely nothing to do with the uncomfortable weather. Every gnawing suspicion and carefully cultivated grudge against Metal that Derek had fostered both privately and plain view of John, his Mother, and Cameron rose up like a raging torrent in his gut. His unbridled hatred was displayed in every rigid muscle and crude combination of foul oaths he could muster while not falling prey to road rage. The last thing he needed was a police officer to pull him over for reckless driving and dig into his records. Derek was wanted for the murder of Andy Goode and that fact still hung over everything he did.

His dubious plan seemed totally justified now. In the end John would recover and all would turn out for the better. He was save the entire Connor family a great amount of needless heartache. Deep in his mind he had even formulated scenarios which had him coming out as the hero. Derek Reese would protect John Connor; stop Skynet...save the world.

Derek pulled up to the house forty minutes later to find Sarah in the garage, packing.
“What’s up?” he asked standing inside the door of the first car port. Sarah glanced up from several large cardboard boxes labeled in hurried scrolling letters with categories such as John’s Computer Crap, Survival Equipment and one that simply read Burn when you get time. Derek couldn’t help but scoop the boxes forbidden content. He was not happy with what he found.
“I thought you told it to burn the endos?” He questioned fingering an entire triple 8 forearm.
“I thought I did too but I guess she couldn’t get the order through her thick skull.” Sarah practically growled.
“Metals all the same.” Derek muttered.

Sarah didn’t reply but there was no doubt she understood what he meant. All Metal lied, manipulated, and finally terminated those they were supposed to “protect”. It had happened once; it was bound to happen again.

“So what’s with all the packing, that baby daddy cop next door asking questions?”
“No but I’m not going wait around for that to happen. It’s not safe for us to live here anymore; we’ve brought down enough heat on this place as it is.”
“Cause the Cyborg went and axed John’s girlfriend.” It was more statement then question.
“We’ve overstayed our welcome, lived in one place far too long.”
Derek leaned up against the door frame, letting his hard shell sniper rifle case, with weapon inside slip from his broad shoulder to the crook of his muscular right arm.
“Does We include me?”

Sarah’s eyes snapped up to the fellow resistance fighter’s person and lingered there for several heated seconds.
“I don’t know Derek, does it?” You haven’t consistently slept here in weeks-” she answered steadily but Derek easily picked up the underlining irritation in her husky voice.
I have no bed.” He retorted, getting hot under the collar.

“Ever heard of the sofa? There are several lovely ones to choose from right up there in our living room” Sarah said, scornfully pointing out the living room window as if Derek didn’t know where it was.
“Unlike you I’ve been busy with important things.” He couldn’t come up with more biting wisecrack.
“You have? Well, I wouldn’t know... We don’t talk like we used to. It seems like you have your own loop now.”
Derek went on the defensive. He wouldn’t have her lecturing him.
“I can’t help the fact that you’ve been distracted, you with your bloody three dots, John with the Metal.”
Sarah refused to be pulled into a full blown argument. At this point it seemed to the only type of communication her and Derek were capable of.

“Come if you want, stay if you want. I don’t really care, but leave John out of this, he’s trying his best.”
Derek laughed at this. The sardonic infliction cut through Sarah like a thousand tiny razor blades.
“He’s trying his best not to grow up. When was the last time he did anything worthwhile toward bringing Skynet down?! He should be on his computer searching like a mad man for the Turk, not getting caught up with some girl and that stupid piece of screwed up machinery!”

Derek had managed to push Sarah’s final button. She shoved the last remaining collection of odds and ends into the designated boxes and slapped tape down over the top. It took her several long minutes to regain any type of composure. Finally she turned back to face him, her bone aching weariness shining out like a beacon through her tired brown eyes.

“What do you want me to say Derek? Your right? Fine, I’ve been distracted. I was kidnapped.”
“I know that.”

Sarah sighed again, feeling the emotional fatigue of the past few weeks rushing up to drown out in coherent thought she struggled to process in her worn and frayed out mind. She fought the uncanny urge to either haul off and punch her brother-in-law lights out or break down and cry.

“I’m not trying to solicit your pity, but maybe a little understanding isn’t too much to ask for, he’s a sixteen year old boy-
“Who’s also is destined to be the savior of mankind, 2011 Sarah. Times running out.”

Sarah didn’t respond. There was nothing left to say. Derek was right but so was she. Again they had reached a stalemate.

“What we going to do about the Metal, she’s become a problem.” Derek said interrupting the quiet after he and Sarah had exchanged some very emotionally charged death stares.
“Looks like you’re on the right track...” Sarah nodded, indicating his sniper rifle.
“If anyone has enough reason, it should be you putting the bullet to her.”

Sarah shook her head, not even attempting to hide the disappointment in what her next sentence instilled.
“Only John can do it.”
Derek wouldn’t accept that answer.
“No. I’m gonna kill her Sarah.”
He hoisted the weapon back onto his shoulder and prepared to leave.
“You can thank me later.” With that he turned on his heel and headed for the house.
“She’s upstairs in John’s bedroom helping him pack. At least wait until he goes to the bathroom or something.”
Derek turned back and nodded. They had an understanding.

Sarah hadn’t verbally given her approval but it was written all over her face. She wished she was the one who got to blow Cam's brains to high heaven. For Kyle, for the world, for John.

“Aim for the chip. They never get up.” she mumbled but he didn’t hear her nor did he need to. Derek was ready to a hero again and nothing was going to stand in his way...certainly not a sixteen year old boy...or so he thought...

Chapter Five
The Age of Innocence...has come to a close.
“So you think he’s lying?” John asked as he and Cameron casually sorted through John’s belongings, not really caring what items went in what container. For once Cameron let the lack of organization go unaddressed. She seemed to be pre-occupied with other unspoken matters.

“Yes, he told your mother back when our house was robbed that Jesse was one of the male resistance fighters we found dead at the safe house but I saw her number on his phone. He’s lying.”
“Jesse must be the woman I saw with Riley when I followed her last week...” He mumbled absentmindedly fiddling with several different colored flash drives. Cameron looked slightly taken aback by John’s out-of- the-blue statement.
“What, I’m not half as self-absorbed and emo as you, my mom, and Derek might think. I had some questions that needed answers so I went looking for them.”
Cameron cocked her head to the side and didn’t say anything for a moment. She seemed to being processing what John had just said.

“Emo is not a term I am familiar with... What does it mean?”
John sighed. This wasn’t exactly the best possible instant to switch into teacher mode but he would just have to grin and bear it.
“It means emotional or just plain moody.”
Cameron walked to the window and stared out through the checkered panes of glass for several long minutes then turned back to John.
“Can I be emo?”

John was having a hard time figuring out what Cameron was getting at.

“Don’t you think that’s a bit off topic?”
“Perhaps.” She didn’t say anything more and John knew she was waiting for him to explain.
“You can act emotional but you can’t be emotional, there’s a really big difference.”
“Sometimes you seem emotional but really aren’t.”
“I’m not sure I get your point.”
“Humans seem to do a lot of acting. Your mother never really smiles for real. She wants you to think everything will be ok but her eyes give her away. She’s not a very good liar.”

John shrugged and tried not to look entirely apathetic.
“Well I don’t think you have to worry about her putting on a show for me anymore. She’s pretty much pissed and she made that very clear.”
“She’s in the garage talking to Derek at this moment.”

John laid aside the pile of shirts he was folding and came to stand next to Cameron.

“What are they saying?”
“He’s coming to try to kill me.” Cameron answered quite frankly, seemingly undaunted by the normally sinister concept for being confronted with one’s own potential murderer.
“And you mother does not seem to have a problem with the proposed means of elimination.”
“Screw that, I do!” John turned away from the window and rifled underneath his bed for a box of spare clips.
“Get the Glock from my dresser.” He ordered. Cameron brought the gun to him. John emptied the old clip and shoved in a new mag.

Cameron looked on while John loaded the weapon.

“What are going to do?”
“Let that be my problem. Go to the bathroom and the lock the door behind you. Don’t come out until you hear Derek go passed, then I want you to find his phone. If it’s not in the truck I’ll get it from him.”
“I can’t. He’s a threat.”
Do not argue with me. You said I was ahead of schedule right? Well let me be John Connor. Leave now.”

“What if he tries to kill you?” the worry in her voice pricked something inside of John. The concern sounded deeper than simply a mission objective at risk. Don’t read into things John, there’s nothing there.

“John, what if he tries to kill you?” Cameron’s voice pulled him back to his bedroom.
“He won’t, I know he won’t.”
“How can you be so sure? I heard things. He won’t listen.”
“Yes he will. Derek wants this from me. No more John Baum. Now go before he shows up.”

Cameron hesitated but finally left the room and John waited on his bed his for his uncle, the fully loaded handgun resting between his relaxed fingers. It was only at this quiet moment in time that John realized for the first time what it really meant to be John Connor. Everything was left up to him. John Baum had officially made his exit.

Chapter Six
What John’s Uncle truly wanted

Derek Reese left the hard shell rifle case open and empty on one of the couches down in the living room and silently crept upstairs. He had no idea if the element of surprise was on his side, but it didn’t really matter. One deadly projectile and hellish ambition to eliminate was all he needed. What was his plan? In truth, he really didn’t have one. Derek didn’t think twice about questioning his motive. The desire to kill John’s bodyguard came from a deep seated thirst for justice and revenge. The machine should have been destroyed back at the salvage yard, so many weeks ago, melted into putrid puddle of smoldering alloy. Derek loved John with every fiber of his being, and sometimes love can drive people to do very foolish things.

The jigsaw puzzle of circumstance is a very difficult object to put together and live with, but not if you’re the one selecting the pieces that appear to be are suitable for the task at hand. Derek Reese had chosen what pieces he would consider and what parts he would flippantly discard, even though much of his decision was based on only fragments of reality. All the pieces had fallen into place, all except for one. It seemed entirely insignificant in the grand scheme of things but would become the ultimatum, the true deal-breaker. He had not factored in John Connor into the overall equation, he considered only John Baum. Derek Reese was in for a very rude awakening, one that could save his life...or take it.

“Hello Derek.” John announced as soon as his uncle stepped inside the doorframe of his bedroom. He was sitting on his bed, alone. Derek gripped his weapon tightly in his scarred hands, his large square jaw clenched, biting back the urge to profusely swear.
“Where is she John?” He asked, locking gazes with his nephew.
“Obviously not in here.” John replied coolly.

He seemed to be the picture of reserve but in reality, his heart beat in a rough unnerving pattern.

“I don’t have time to play games-”
John interjected, stopping Derek in mid sentence.
“You right, none of us do so I’ll cut through all the crap...” He stood to his feet, standing shoulder to shoulder with Derek, not flinching, never backing down, and still holding the glock steadily in his right hand.

“Whose side are you on Derek?” John asked, crossing his arms defiantly over his chest. John’s Uncle had not been expecting such a forthright question. It took him several seconds to recover from the severity of what John’s inquiry implied.

“What kinda question is that?!” Derek sputtered, almost speechless.

He hadn’t anticipated to hard-balled like this, right out of the gate. It was usually Derek who took the offensive stance.

“An honest one. Whose side are you on? Do you want to destroy Skynet?” John repeated, entirely unperturbed by Derek’s outburst. Not a single tremor was audible in his voice.

“I shouldn’t have to answer that, of all the bloody-” but again John cut him off.
“But you will.” He paused, emphasizing every syllable. “Do you want to destroy Skynet?”
“The only reason I exist anymore is take down the A.I. that one day decides it wants to blow up the freaken planet. The very same A.I. that it, wherever that thing is hiding was built by!”

The antagonism was now on an equal playing field. John didn’t say anything for quite a while, giving Derek enough time to pull together all his contempt and gear up for the next verbal jousting match.

She has a name.” John answered between gritted teeth.

Derek chuckled scornfully and rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, make it a pet, how quaint.”
John steadied himself and plunged on, regaining some of his lost composure.

“Her name is Cameron and I sent her from the future to protect me, now answer my question. Whose side are you on?”
“Depends on who’s asking?”
Answer my question!”
“Answer mine first!” Derek curtly shot back.

John swallowed hard. His next statement served as double confirmation. It is one thing to understand something internally, within your own mind, but once you say it out loud, there’s no going back but John didn’t want to go back. He was ready.

“There never was anybody but John Connor, no matter how hard I pretend to disregard it I cannot ignore my fate. I am John Connor.”
“Then you already know the answer. We live for John Connor and we die for John Connor, it’s as simple as that.”
“But why?”

Derek didn’t hesitate for a second.

“Because you live to save mankind.”
“And I can’t do it on my own. I need help.”
Derek’s comeback was ready and rearing, aching to break forth from his lips.
“Yes, your right, you do...but not from her!”
“I want you on my side Derek, with nothing held back.” John continued, completely unabashed.

Derek nodded.

“Alright then. Let me get rid of the Cyborg and then we’ll talk.”

John suddenly looked very tired and very old. The age behind his eyes was well out of step with days and years he had actually lived. He fingered the weapon in his hand and carefully flicked the safety off.

“I have a gun here and I am prepared to kill you right now if it comes to that. Like you and I, Cameron is here for a reason. If that reason is to murder me then so be it but it is not up to you to decide what happens to her. You want me to start acting like a leader, a soldier, the way John Connor is supposed to act, well, here I am. This is my call. Cameron lives and you would do your best to just deal with it. After all, I’m the savior of mankind, not you.”

Derek had never seen his nephew like this before. Something about the way John carried himself made Derek involuntarily straighten his shoulders with his eyes centered on his superior officer, standing erect, like a sentinel, like a soldier.

“So you’re choosing the Metal over me? Is that how it works?”

John shook his head.

“No, because that’s not my decision to make, it yours. So what will it be Derek, what will it be?”

Chapter Seven
Mending the seams

Sarah didn’t wait around to see if Derek was successful in removing Cameron or not. She had others things to do. With the Realtor pages left open for the local newspaper listing she called around to find her family a new place of residence. Settling on a small two bedroom house about forty minutes out of L.A. Sarah couldn’t take the suspense any longer. She stood to her feet and walked to the bottom of the stairs. The figure she saw next was totally unexpected. The bathroom door creaked open and out walked Cameron, not a signal scratch on her. It would have been an understatement to say Sarah was annoyed.
“Where’s John?!” Sarah snarled. The Cyborg glanced up, wearing the same customarily blank expression that seems to permanently reside on her face.

“With Derek.”

Sarah was about to verbally lay into her but she never got the chance. Cameron wasn’t finished speaking.

“Why do you hate me Sarah?”

Was she really asking such an idiotic question?! Sarah debated within herself if she thought the question even warranted a response. She decided it did. The robot wanted the reason so Sarah was gonna give her one. Only two words would fit perfectly in description of John’s mom’s next statement, brutally honest.

“You tried to kill my son, scared the heck out of Charlie, and practically ripped this family apart by the seams; give me one good reason I shouldn’t hate you?”

“Because John doesn’t...He trusts me.”

Sarah shook her head, disgusted by the seemingly simplistic nature of the whole conversation.
“No, he trusts Cameron Phillips, the pretty little girl who saved his life. He’s still can’t wrap his head around the fact your nothing more than a machine and you’ll always be that way. Machines like you, they’re made to kill. One of these days you’re going to try again, why shouldn’t I do everything in power to prevent that?”

Cameron didn’t say anything for a long time. Her gaze wandered up to the stairs; obviously her mind and ears were temporary drawn away from the present confrontation. Finally she looked back at Sarah. Her eyes were no longer so dull. They seemed to take on an independent luster all their own. What had caused the transformation, Sarah would never know.

“Terminating me is not your decision to make. We’re all a threat. Only John can do it.”

Sarah didn’t have a comeback. How in the span of ten minutes could she hear the exact same phase, but only this time, spoken from the very source of her bitter animosity?

“We both want John alive. Future John sent me back to protect him. That is my mission. Without him there is nothing. Without John Connor there is nothing else for anyone.”

Sarah had nothing to say. They both stood there, in silence, each to their own thoughts. Cameron was the first to make a move. She brushed past John’s mom and headed for the back door.
“Where are you going?” Sarah called out suddenly feeling very helpless. Why did Cameron make her feel so powerless, inferior to the robot’s ageless beauty and never-ending fortitude? At that moment Sarah Connor hated with every bone in her body that she could nothing more than imperfect, flawed, faulty...human. Cameron turned back and answered quite simply.
“John knows.” and proceeded on her way.

Sarah stood in one place, as if rooted to the floor boards, unable to move, think, feel anything. She felt like a stone sculpture standing in the middle of a busy park, frozen in place, watching everyone else go about their lives, making choices for themselves. Not being dictated to by some invisible cosmic timepiece methodically counting down the days she had left on earth. Her fate and the rest of the worlds was left to the guidance of a sixteen year old boy. If Sarah Connor really took the time to uncover the origins of her deeply entrenched grudge against Metal she would find it wasn’t really Cameron that was the problem. It was her own mortality and humanity that brought on such unbridled odium toward her son’s protector. Sarah could nothing more than human and she hated it. She wanted to be more. For Kyle Reese, for the world, and most of all for John.

Sarah went back to packing. What other choice did she have? She could only wait and listen to find out what the outcome of Derek and John’s altercation was. Several minutes later both uncle and nephew descended the steps into the living room. John was first to speak.

“He told me truth, about him and Jesse, her plan... everything. Cameron was set up. We were too but Derek didn’t know about Riley and Jesse; he had no idea that she was part of Jesse’s plan to get Cameron away from me. Jesse lied to him too.”

Sarah didn’t say anything; she waited for Derek to chime in. Derek cleared his throat, looking surprisingly submissive and genuinely penitent.

“I’m gonna tell you what I told John. I hate the Metal. That’s not gonna change any time soon but he’s boss. I can whine to my heart’s content up in my head but when it comes down to it, John Connor is the leader, not me.”
John locked eyes with his mother. There weren’t words to describe what that look made Sarah feel. John, her little boy who not four months ago asked her to take care of it all now stood before her, so much love in his eyes but it was now mingled with determination, grit, and unapologetic authority. Her little boy he no longer was.

“Do you understand that we’re all the same side now Mom...”

John would have continued but Cameron came in through the back door, holding up Derek’s cellphone.

“Jesse’s number is on this phone.”

John turned to Derek, addressing his uncle in a tender but firm fashion.

“I have to go over there and talk to her but first I need you to call Jesse and tell her you’re on your way over, to make sure she’ll there when we arrive.”

Derek shook his head.

“No, I can’t do that. She lied to me, straight to my face, I won’t return the favor.”
“I’ll do it.” Cameron said and dialed in the number.
“Keep it short and to the point, and please try to sound at least somewhat human.”
“I can be very persuasive when I want to be.”

John wasn’t the only one in the room who rolled their eyes at this last comment.

While Cameron talked to Jesse, mimicking Derek’s voice John took his mother aside. They stood out on the back terrace, the manipulated tones of Cameron’s voice rising and falling in the background.

“I know this is hard for you...it’s always just been you and me, on our own, doing our own thing, but just because something changes doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice.”
“I know John...” Sarah placed a weathered hand on his shoulder. “Just promise me something, don’t ever forget, she’s just a machine, nothing more, nothing less.”
“I won’t.”
“Promise me!”
“...I promise.”

And for the first time in quite a while John and his mother embraced. No hidden bitterness was wedged between them. Both understood their rightful places. Cameron came out onto the porch, breaking the comfortable silence.

“She believed it was Derek and promised to turn down the bed sheets.”

Sarah wasn’t sure if she should scowl or laugh.

“Awkward.” John coughed, turning bright red. Obviously Cameron didn’t get the joke.

Derek stayed in the house while the others headed out to the truck. Sarah leaned in the window of the Dodge 2500 and took John’s hand, gripping it tightly.

Be careful. People don’t take well to being manipulated.”
“I know. We got everything covered. We’ll be fine.”
“I’m not worried about her.”
“Really, I never would have guessed.” John grinned, trying to get his mom to smile.
“I love you John.” Sarah finally let go of his hand as the massive hemi engine started up.
“You too Mom.”

Chapter Eight

Mission on the wall

Greenway -
P. Alto -
Dr. B. Sherman
3 Dots -
Juan Lopez??
Alpine Fields –
Kim -
Wallace/Brooks -
Deacon Sandhip -
Tb3N@C84 - An unusual type of fullerene molecule.
0419100644 -

John couldn’t wait any longer. The question had been eating away at him ever since he and his mother had an argument over why Cameron had saved the large collection of spare endoskeleton parts.
“What do you do each night when everybody else is asleep?”
Cameron stared straight ahead, never taking her eyes off the road.
“I keep you safe.”
“Is that why you come home with all those cuts and bruises?”
“Safe from what?”
“From danger.”

This time John couldn’t hold back a major eye roll. Couldn’t she attempt for like three minutes to not act like a tactless robot who never liked to give straight answers?

“Would it kill you to give more than two word answers?”
“No, it wouldn’t kill me...”
“So this is the part of the conversation where you start to elaborate-”
“From much danger.” Cameron stated without even the tiniest hint of sarcasm.

John sighed heavily. So much for that ploy.

“Like what? Cromartie is gone, there’s nobody left...”
Cameron glanced over at him or a second and the look in her light brown eyes said it all. They were not alone.
“There are more 888’s out there, is that what you saying?”

She nodded but didn’t speak.

“So that’s where you got all the spare endo parts.”
“How many Cameron? How many are still out there?”
“Two are accounted for.”
“What do you mean accounted for? Some got away!?”
“One. Its endoskeleton was severally damaged. It should take several weeks to repair itself.”

John shook his head incredulously and attempted to collect his thoughts. She kept so much from him but why?

“Don’t you think this should have been something you would have told me before now?”
“You never asked.”
“And it didn’t cross your mind to bring up that one of those metal monsters was running around L.A. trying to hunt me down.”
“I didn’t say it was after you.”
“Then who was it after? Bedell, Fields...”
“No. A Professor Klyce Wallace.”

Wallace, why did that name sound familiar and then it hit him.

“Wallace! The Wallace from the wall!?”
“Who’s Klyce Wallace?”
“Ask Derek.”
“Is there a reason you can’t just tell me?”

It took every ounce of self control that John had not to yank the wheel from her hands and pull the truck over. For gosh sakes, trying to get info from Cameron was like trying to pull out someone’s freaken wisdom teeth without Novocain.

“And that is?”
“Because Derek should be the one to tell you.”

John grabbed his phone off the dashboard and hurriedly speed dialed Derek. He picked up a few seconds later.
“Who’s Klyce Wallace?”
“Why do you care?”
“A 888 tried to take down his younger self. Cameron stopped it.”
“Klyce Wallace is a woman John, or at least the Klyce Wallace I know is.”
“Ok so who is she?”

Derek sounded slightly smug, as if he was about get into a major bragging session.

“Your first double agent. Skynet never suspected that someone in their late fifties like Wallace in 2027 would be capable of working as an infiltrator. She posed as a Grey, fed Skynet bogus intel and did quite a lovely job at messing with the Metal’s minds. She’s brilliant by any standard.”
“Then why didn’t we track her down before now if she’s so vital?”

Derek still wasn’t used to be lectured by John Connor in the present time. He caught himself before he said something entirely snide.

“Well not to sound like an insubordinate but if you haven’t noticed you and your mom have been a bit pre-occupied with other things, Riley, those stupid 3 dots, plenty of worthless dead-ends, not to mention some really sucky funeral sandwiches. Besides that, all known accounts say Wallace is already dead. Died in a car accident in 2004. I looked her and a few other people up when I got to 07.”
“How can Cameron save her life if she’s dead?”
“Two possibilities. Wallace is really alive and she faked her own death which I wouldn’t put passed her or she really is dead and someone’s having a good laugh at the Cyborg’s expense.”
“Would she know you if she saw you?”

Derek laughed.
“Know me, she reported to me, but we’re not talking about future Wallace here. She’ll have no idea who I am.”
“I’m certain Cameron has a way making sure she trusts you.”

John handed the phone to his bodyguard.

“Tell Derek where he can find Klyce Wallace. I want him to bring her in.”
“It is against the state laws of California to drive while talking on a cellphone.”
“You shoot people on the spot without blinking twice, hack private servers, screw with massive power turbines and steal police officers clothing. I think talking on the phone will driving is the least of your worries.”

Without so much as another word Cameron took the phone.

“Rolfe Hall, room 1200 UCLA campus, wait outside in the hallway.”
“What does she look like?”
“I thought you knew her?”
“Yeah but if I’m right about her faking her own death then I figure she’s done her best to mask her old identity. I highly doubt she’s still going by her real name.”
“Address her as Mss. Santos or simply Professor until you know you’re completely alone. Tell her John Connor sent you. She will understand.”

Derek sounded annoyed over having to take orders from Cameron, even John listening vaguely could pick that up.

“How much does she know, about us, about Skynet...about you?”
“Enough.” Cameron bluntly answered.
“Well aren’t we a robot of few words.”
“You are not a robot Derek.”

Derek feigned confusion. “Really? Thanks for the memo now give the phone to John.”

Cameron handed the cellphone back.

“I want you to take Mom with you.” John said leaning back in his chair.
“I doubt she’ll come, she’s on a packing spree right now.”
“She’ll go. Tell her I want her to go... No offense but you don’t exactly have a way with people.”
“And you think your Mother does?”
“More then you.”
“That’s definitely a matter of opinion.”

John couldn’t help but grin. It felt good to have something to joke about, no matter how small it really was. Derek’s voice turned serious.

“John, Jesse is not all bad. She was doing what she thought was best. Just like you. Go easy on her.”

There was a long pause.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. She set Riley up on purpose. She wanted her to die.”
“I know, we all got a little screwed sometimes. I’m not trying to justify her actions but...” Derek trailed off then finished his sentence after letting out a heavy sigh.
“Do what you have to do.”

John swallowed hard. He understood that Derek truly loved Jesse and that made his final decision even more complicated.

“I will and I’m sorry that things have to be this way.”
“Well we can’t expect everyone to be one big happy family now can we?”
“I guess not.”
“I’ll find you professor, it’ll be alright.”
“Stay safe.”
“No worries here.”
“I’m always worrying.”

With that Derek hung up.

“You know you have to kill her.” Cameron said while John stowed his phone in the dashboard compartment.
“No I don’t. What separates me from the machines? My ability to give people a second chance. If she’s willing to join our side then there’s no reason I should have to kill her.”

but Cameron shook her head while pulling into the hotel parking lot.

“She has to die John. There is no choice.”