No Fate But What You Make It
Dodge City, Kansas
A Skynet research facility
Monday, March 16, 2009
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." -John 15:13, the King James Bible
"We shall go on to the end... We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..." -Sir Winston Churchill
There were times you worked in small groups. You would hit like wave and then disappear completely, retreating backwards like water folding into the open sea.
Once in a while, when the target was important enough, you would feel the great pull of the undercurrent. Like a tidal wave, you moved with your brothers and sisters in arms.
Today was a tsunami. Other resistance units had accidentally uncovered something that required immediate, overwhelming action.
Skynet's facility was another attempt to reengineer the virological doomsday weapon that had been lost by the death of one Roland Parker. In creating such as vast threat and heavily fortifying it against any small group, Skynet had forced the resistance's hand.
Again, the ocean was the best metaphor. Like the risking of lives here, Cameron didn't like it much. In the time that had past, she'd grown too close to those she had served with.
It wasn't that the resistance wasn't capable. They had the will, the resolve, the training, and the compelling need to act.
The force wasn't lacking either. Derek Reese had adopted and evolved the small unit concept, into a traditional military structure, building on the way Major General Perry had envisioned field teams of four being sent into the past. Two small fire teams made a squad. Eight squads made a platoon. Four platoons made the current company hitting the facility right now.
All of this was possible because the John Connor of 2027 had made good on his promise. He had cheated Skynet's game by sending his best and brightest to fight in the past. He had hit Skynet at the time that Cameron's dark father was most vulnerable.
Right now, the gray security and the twenty triple eights protecting the facility were being instructed in a Gulf War General named "Storming" Norman Schwarzkopf's doctrine of overwhelming force. Because of a terminator's tendency to move as if it was invulnerable, Tungsten bullets were making short work of most, while minimizing the damage.
The resistance had evolved from the sticks and stones the first John Connor probably had to fight with. They were far better trained and far better armed than majority had been even under the John Connor that had saved Cameron.
Skynet wouldn't inflict the overwhelming casualties it was used too today. Cameron found that logic to be no comfort; however, passing the first dead body she recognized.
Skynet's granted emotions or not, Cameron's mind was on her mission. Like the John she had once known, the younger John Connor was there participating in the fight as well.
Like she had once done with Perry's assistance, Cameron watched over him. Derek and Sarah watched over him as well.
Sarah's son was no longer a boy. John Connor was a soldier, much like the one Cameron had known.
The twenty minutes of Hell so far oddly reminded Cameron of the Battle Of London. Though the scope was smaller, there was enough that was the same.
There was the blind unknown of the firefight as the bullets wised past you from an unknown shooter. There were the explosions. There was the fear of losing someone you cared about, the fear of failure, the fear of death, and the resolve to work through it anyway was still the same.
The difference being the ability to translate her feelings thanks to Sarah. Again, in this situation, for Cameron and the others here, perhaps that General Schwarzkopf had put it best, "True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job."
The small unit fire teams had flooded into the upper levels. It was the command team's turn.
John moved into the facility where the units had advanced in a covered fashion. He moved in a cautious fashion, minimizing his silhouette and watching his angles.
Sarah, Derek and Cameron did the same. Watching each possible angle of attack as they descending into the laboratory at the heart of the facility.
This form of fighting was a hard conscious choice for Cameron. She always defaulted to her particular precise machine movement, if she wasn't careful.
To protect John, she would do it. That and the fact she was more effective if she fought like a human soldier, she took far less damage and it didn't draw Derek Reese's withering wrath.
As when Louis Rhone had laid a trap for her before, the last of the triple eights had gathered in the vat area below. Six strong they opened fire with rounds that easily ripped through concrete and steel.
Proactively, Sarah and Derek flanked left and right respectively. Cameron found that she and John were pinned down.
Descending fire teams entered. Hundreds of bullets flew back and forth. Tracer rounds lit the darkness.
John opened fire on the closest hostile T888 that he could locate. Cameron laid assist fire. Today wouldn't be young John Connor's shining moment, but he did his job, followed his training, and kept his place in the firefight.
Ten seconds later the battle was over. In those few eye blinks, forty Resistance fighters from the 132nd had flooded down to help...
Once the facility was locked down, it was a matter of clearing it and setting it to burn safely, before that could happen though, objectives needed to be completed. Some teams would search for Intel. Some teams would set explosives. Some would deal with the dead. Some would salvage tech. Some would secure the perimeter.
That wasn't Cameron's job at this point though. Her first mission was to help the teams that dealt with the wounded.
There were ten dead and eighteen wounded. For those that survived, luckily most were minor wounds. Under the rules of triage though, Cameron dealt with the worst one first.
She knew him, Simon Ramirez, sent back to 2002, last survivor of his original group and an accidental family man. He had bullet wounds too the shoulder and abdomen. He was shaking, pale, bleeding heavily, and on the verge of shock.
Cameron smiled at him warmly and told him it would be ok. She placed her hand upon him, felt his body as if it was her own, and felt where the bullets were.
Memorizing the locations, the pain he was in, and the debris inside his body, she numbed him with a single acupuncture needle to the neck, removed two bullets from his shoulder and one from his admin. What a human ER team would have needed a high tech hospital room and an hour for; Cameron did on the field in five minutes.
Cameron sealed his wounds, before the blood loss had become too great. She shot Simon full of antibiotics to deal with any potential infection and morphine for the pain.
Last dealing with the emotional turmoil he was in, she let him know, "You'll be ok. I'll let your squad know, you'll need at least 45 days to recover, but you will be fine, I even minimized your scarring. We'll also have medication you need to take as its prescribed and until it is all gone. We'll have a story ready for your wife and the kids. Consider this a vacation with them." Cameron smiled warmly.
Ramirez's body was still considering going into shock. The bodies of human males could be tricky like that. The first aid team would have to watch him for twenty four hour trip back to his house.
Ramirez desperately grabbed her hand, tears still streamed out of his eyes. He wanted to say something, but didn't really seem to have the words.
So, Cameron did what Sarah had helped her learn to do and found them, saying, "The wisest man I ever knew was John Connor that sent us here. He believed that every soldier's death was a tragedy. There won't be any more tragedies today Simon Ramirez. I swear."
When Simon had calmed enough to let her hand go, she kissed him on the forehead. Cameron then moved to the next person who needed her most.
Derek Reese maintained his own unique place in the clean up. As acting CO, he went from one team to another making sure everyone had what they needed.
He then did something unique to the resistance here. He went from one dead body to the next and looked every hero in the eye.
There would be no family to write. Most that died today were little more than children in the current timeline and would still be alive to their families.
Derek could write the squads, but that would provide some level of proof to the law enforcement agencies that Skynet was manipulating into hunting the resistance. So, First Lieutenant Derek Reese would look the dead in the eye and silently apologize for failing them. He'd tell their squads they were heroes.
Cameron had once wondered why Derek had been John's choice to send back. After a year of finding nothing, but lower ranked officers and enlisted, it had been obvious that Derek was John's selection by design.
It was moments like this that answered that question. Derek's fanatical need to survive had become a need to keep others alive. It was as if the 638 resistance men and women they had networked together so far had all been named Kyle Reese.
Perhaps, just saying men and women was unfair. He protected the 42 machine units under his command as well, it's just being Derek, he'd just never let them know that.
As much as Cameron had sought to become more like Sarah, Derek had strove to become more like Major General Perry. Cameron had wished Derek could have picked a different hero, though most under Perry's command would never had known it, she had never met a lonelier or more heartbroken man.
Cameron intercepted Derek after he had finished talking to the last squad to lose a member. His demeanor changed as soon as he saw her.
Cameron offered as a peace token, "You're a hero too you know."
Derek retorted, by quoting General Schwarzkopf, "It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle"
Both Cameron and Derek were on the same page more and more these days. It was almost unnerving.
Cameron spoke to Derek stating, "We're in the clear and the facility will be safely blown shortly."
Derek asked, "Did the duty teams take care of the dead and the wounded?"
Cameron restated, "We're clear."
Derek simply said, "Good."
Cameron offered, "The remaining troops would like a chance to meet up in Dallas, Texas for a bit. They'd like a weekend to catch up on old times."
Derek responded, "You know as well as I do, that's tactically stupid."
"They've earned a break."
"Skynet isn't going to give the one. The people mistakenly pursuing us won't give them one. We need to go back to four man units for a reason."
"John Connor would have given them a break."
"This John isn't fully leading yet. Ours left me with the responsibility of watching out for these troops and our mission on behalf of the human race. I won't risk that for their sentimentality and I won't risk that just because they asked you to beg on their behalf. I'm cutting the eight hours of liberty I granted the squads to four, just for trying to pull this crap."
Cameron defensively said, "That's not necessary, Derek."
"Yes it is, Cameron. Get your head back in the game, the ground realities haven't changed just because a few of them like you now. I'd honestly rather you acted like the old you about this."
Derek continued, "The best case scenario with this is that we stop Skynet and spend the rest of our violently short lives as fugitives. God willing, I honestly hope we do that. We'll have saved about 8 billion people by that being our fate."
He also stated, "If we fail to stop Judgment Day, we're going to need to be better prepared than ever before. We aren't going to fail because we became stupid and got caught on a beer night."
Cameron brought the subject back to the troops, asking, "What do you expect me to tell them from you then?"
Mimicking the most famous version of the Tin Man, from the movie, The Wizard Of Oz, Derek mockingly sang, "I'd be tender, I'd be gentle and awful sentimental... If I only had a heart..."
Cameron cast him a withering glare that could only be summed up in the word, "*******." Derek infrequently did the music rift not only to mock her love of the book, but to mock who Cameron was too him as well.
Derek confessed, "You have no idea what joy it brings me to know that actually pisses you off." He smiled wolfishly.
Cameron walked off. Derek was tactically right, but he didn't have to enjoy it so much.
John Connor worked with the recovery tech team. He was learning what he had been famous for in the future.
Four friendly triple eights and twelve tech rats salvaged the twenty bodies. They also made sure no questionable technology might survive once the facility was blown.
John almost sensed Cameron's approach. Without looking up at her, he simply stated, "Did he go for it?"
Cameron stated, "No."
John simply offered, "I told you."
"He also cut the teams' times at the various rendezvous spot down from eight hours to four."
"That sounds like Derek."
A triple eight with sunglasses, a spiked haircut and sharp, cut features approached. Cameron recognized it as Deuce, one that John had named himself.
Deuce spoke with either a German or Austrian accent saying, "Preliminary analysis is complete, the virus sample here was in no way as advanced as the contagion Roland Parker originally created."
John inquired, "How bad was it?"
Deuce answered, "We'd estimate a thirty percent worldwide fatality rate. It wasn't significant enough for Skynet to release it yet as an alternative to the traditional Judgment Day scenario."
John asked, "Anything else?"
Deuce replied, "There is no evidence that Skynet was trying to develop a vaccine at this time. It appears that Skynet is willing to give up on any gray survivors if it has this option."
John inquired, "What's the total salvage for this mission?"
Deuce replied, "Using the ready service upload virus chip, it looks like we might be able to reprogram up to four T888 units. The recovery would have been better, but as we have discussed, we keep seeing higher percentages of self destructing chips."
Cameron added, "Derek's going to want all four to replace fallen soldiers."
John retorted, "Derek can want in one hand and **** in the other to see which one fills up first. He's not getting all of them."
Since John was coming to the subject anyway, Cameron asked Deuce, "How goes the data collection efforts?" Cameron asked because John for some reason had placed Deuce in charge of networking the triple eights.
Deuce reported, "Not including Cameron, we have six triple eights working full time on medical knowledge. One is running stock market data with mathematical probabilities and short term market scams to finance our operations. Eight are learning various engineering fields. Four learning are computer skills. Twelve others are fixed on hard sciences and two are learning veterinary skills. All others, including field units, are picking up critical skills and languages as they can in the event Judgment Day is unavoidable."
Cameron asked, "Any irregularities with the new programming?"
Deuce answered, "No reprogramming has failed and their have been no haywires to date. The Skynet emotional programming passed on from Cameron's chip and the mathematics of human emotional translation provided by Sarah's instruction of Cameron, have proved invaluable for long term integration and learning evolutions."
Deuce produced a small vial. He stated, "On that note Cameron, I've been asked to get another sample."
Cameron rolled up her sleeve. Deuce produced a small scalpel, stopping for a moment saying, "This will hurt."
Cameron replied, "You really have no idea, yet." She winced as Deuce took a one inch by one inch deep tissue sample from her bicep, in the hopes that the skin properties that were unique to Cameron could be duplicated in the other friendly terminators one day.
Deuce stitched the wound with the same speed Cameron would have, but without the empathy and tactile knowledge. Again, one day there was hope that might change.
Deuce offered, "I must take this sample as quickly as possible to the researcher."
John patted Deuce on the shoulder and said, "Go ahead." John watched Deuce walk off.
John looked at Cameron and said, "That was what he looked like."
Cameron asked, "What?"
John offered, "Deuce is a Model 101. That's exactly what Uncle Bob looked like."
Cameron reflected, "No wonder your mother doesn't like being around him or the recovery teams."
John smiled. Though he deeply loved Sarah, after a recent minor squabble with his mother the thought of her being unnerved was more than mildly amusing.
Cameron looked at John and asked, "Could you do me a favor John?"
"What would that be?"
Thinking of Sarah's confession and why she might have had such problems with Uncle Bob, Cameron requested, "If we don't avert Judgment Day, please promise me you'll send back something other than a Model 101 to protect you and your mother from that T1000."
Unexpectedly, John kissed her. Cameron became lost of the emotion of it.
She felt his heart. She became lost in the feeling of his lips and skin.
She was enchanted with the smell of him. She loved the feeling of his hair under her fingers.
A moment later, he was gone. Perhaps an emergency had come up.
Cameron became aware that she was being watched. An older, black resistance sergeant by the name of Tomeka Jones gave her a withering look. Cameron's insecurities about what had happened to the John of 2027 crept up like wildfire.
Tomeka was a rabid smoker. The type that lit her next cigarette off of the last one, from the moment she got up, until the moment she crashed for the night.
Quite likely, her entire motivation for going back in time was an easier supply of cigarettes. Cameron's nerve was tested as Tomeka walked up slowly taking the time to drag and exhale three smoky breathes as she approached.
Tomeka stared Cameron in the eye with a gaze that could have scared a grizzly bear. She stared her down taking a long breath and expelling it into Cameron general direction.
Tomeka said, "I saw that." She locked gazes with the terminator like she could crush Cameron like a beer can.
Cameron only responded, "Yes."
Tomeka took a deep breath and exhaled. Only then did she say, "Was what you were talking about important too you?"
"What do you mean?"
Tomeka took a deep breath and exhaled. "The model 101 thing you asked him, was that important to you?"
Cameron innocently answered, "Yes, why?"
Tomeka took a deep breath and exhaled. "Cause you just got played metal, white girl."
Cameron's eyes grew wide. She understood the metaphor.
Cameron took off in John's last know direction. She angrily cried out, "John Connor!"
She searched the facility. The future leader of mankind was no where to be found...
Two days later, Sarah sat under a tree, on the two seated swing set at the latest safe house. She had simply been enjoying the summer night sky.
Cameron missed the 132nd, but it was oddly calming to be back to being only four. There was a sense of a return to being a family, no matter how dysfunctional that family might be.
It was also a good time for finding Sarah. Cameron wasn't interested in the screaming match going on between John and Derek over the latest units gained.
Cameron had studied fifteen separate American medical disciplines to date, taking the time to actually sneak into cutting edge hospitals for training. She had studied four separate forms of alternative medicine as well.
The reason was a gnawing fear that grew worse by the day. Sarah didn't have cancer yet, but her body was becoming the environment that would one day kill the woman Cameron admired most.
Sarah could read Cameron's face like book. So she simply made Cameron space on the swing.
Cameron sat closely so their arms touched. She could feel Sarah's defenses rising.
Sarah simply asked, "Is it time?"
Cameron offered, "Not yet, but soon."
"Then there is nothing to worry about." Sarah grinned.
"I'd like to talk to you about options again."
Sarah almost angrily responded, "No, I'm not going over the medical crap again, until it's time."
"I have something more radical than that I want to talk to you about."
"What would that be?"
"There are three single use time stations left that we could use. If there is no other option, I'd like you to consider letting me download you into a terminator body."
Sara looked at Cameron in shock. Cameron withered silently under her look.
Cameron offered, "We're still going to need you. John is still going to need you. I'm still going to need you, Sarah."
Sarah answered, "No offense Cameron, but I'd rather die."
Tears started streaming from Cameron's eyes, she offered further, "There is another option. Skynet has developed something called nanites. They're microscopic machines that can repair mechanical and biological damage, if we were able to capture a sample in 2027, we might be able to scrub the cancer out of your body without pain."
Sarah frowned, saying, "It still sounds like a lot of unnecessary risk. Skynet had implied that timelines might not even be as stable as we thought. What if we the one we've been working on is lost because of what you're suggesting Cameron? What if John and Derek die from going there or staying here alone?"
Once again, Sarah was slipping out of any argument Cameron could make. It was becoming terrifying obvious to Cameron that Sarah might actually be resolved to die when the time came.
Exasperated, Cameron simply confessed, "Sarah Connor, I think you might be the most stubborn woman ever born."
Sarah smiled at that. She offered, "Quite possibly."
"We'll need you in whatever is ahead."
"Have a little faith Cameron." Sarah put her arm around Cameron's back.
"That's a metaphor I don't think I'll ever understand."
"Yes, but I recall it's one you made a promise over." Sarah had actually seen that conversation on Cameron's chip over a year ago.
Cameron confessed, "I'm not sure that's one I'll be able to keep."
Sarah offered, "Take it from me, its the hard promises that define you in the end. They're the ones that are often worth keeping."
"Then promise me you'll let me know if you change your mind Sarah."
"That's a promise I'll make you." Sarah patted Cameron's back in a motherly fashion.
Cameron sat next to the Hero she had known once only in her imagination. Sarah had become someone she didn't want to live without.
Sarah changed the subject, "Someone has a built day coming up soon."
Cameron smiled and said, "September 2nd isn't that close."
"And how old will you be?"
Cameron ignored an exact calculation and just rounded the days down to be personable. She replied, "Two."
"How old is that in terminator years?"
"Based on average life expectancy for a fighting Skynet unit? It's probably about 200."
"What about for someone looking for hope?"
"I'd have to guess just two."
"Give it time Cameron. Life is subtle and it takes a while to figure out the big stuff."
Cameron sat on the swing with Sarah and just looked at the stars in the sky. She knew enough about Sarah to know tonight's conversation was over.
Tonight's battle was lost. At least there was hope, the war to save Sarah Connor, from her fate, wasn't over yet...
Always Be There by Schmacky
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