One Giant Leap
Los Angeles, California
The ruins of ZeiraCorp’s basement and the tunnel rat networks
April 28, 2027
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." -Neil Armstrong
“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” -Albert Camus
Energy ran through Cameron's chip. She awoke to a startling revelation.
The building where she and Deuce had crossed time in was gone. She was in a series of post Judgment Day service tunnels and basement remains.
The surrounding structure was dark and dusty. It was also occupied.
Nearby, there were metallic oxygen bottles, crates, plastic curtains, hospital cots, old army surplus clothing, ammo cans, steel drum garbage cans, and other bits of scrounged material. Here, survivors had scraped out a post apocalyptic existence.
At the moment, the space was thankfully empty. However, the heavy smell of dogs and unwashed humans permeated the entire area. It wouldn't be empty for long.
In the future that Cameron had known, this would have been an independent civilian area. There was no apparent indigenous power supply or clean water source.
It was the kind of living situation the resistance would try to improve or move local humans to a more habitable area. Cameron's standard of living in 2027 were still way below those of the average American pre Judgment day, but it was far better than this sad excuse for a rat hole.
Large dogs barked excitedly nearby, apparently on patrol. There would be a short amount of time prior to them dragging their human masters here.
Inside the cyberspace of Cameron's mind, her personality shards evaluated the surroundings. Allison looked upon the tunnel system with unnerving familiarity. TOK-715 mechanically processed the surrounding superstructure and determined the location to be a match with the original building that she had watched John Henry leave through.
Cameron was following Deuce's lead, of rapidly appropriating the local clothing, as the input from her shard personalities filtered in. The Jacket side patches for the California National Guard removed any mental protest for the impossibility of what had just happened.
A time machine by its nature bent space and time. However, the temporal touch downs were rarely very far in nature. Someone might be deposited up to twenty miles away in the past, but not well over five thousand.
This was a bad temporal entry. Things were wrong. Things were horribly wrong.
The two terminators were deep in human territory right now. There was no safe way to encounter people right now. They would most likely be looked at as the enemy, invading an area.
The weapons of this time period could kill a terminator as easily as a human. Knowing the paradoxes that time travel could create, Cameron and Deuce could be forced into a situation where they'd have to kill a friend in self defense.
By the time both had found fitting pants, shirts and boots from a pile of heavily used clothing, the first human guard had made it to the area. The machine's had reacted following the way Derek had trained them, they ambushed the man at the entrance, by covering from either side.
Deuce grabbed the gun, a NATO issue tungsten steel firing anti vehicle rifle perfectly capable of blowing through a T-888's endoskeleton. Cameron grabbed the unidentified human male.
Cameron put him in a head lock, preparing to safely put him to sleep by cutting off blood flow to his head. She let her bare arm connect to the man's neck, instantly feeling his scratchy beard, raw nerves, anger, and fear.
She reviewed the man through all of her personalities and memories. Neither TOK-715 nor Allison Young had known him. Neither did latent memories of John Henry or her twin sister.
Apparently, he was no one that was critical. If she had too, Cameron would kill him.
Cameron locked her arms and felt the man's heart and mind. She used his body against him rapidly asking a series of questions that she knew he wouldn't willingly answer. She simply read his unconscious body rhythms to rapidly gage the answers.
"Have you seen a naked terminator move through here recently?"
"Did you engage the naked terminator?"
"Was the terminator disabled?"
"Did you destroy the terminator's chip?"
"Do you know how to reprogram a terminator's chip?"
"Do you know how to extract a terminator's chip?"
"Did you destroy the terminator's head?"
"Is the surrounding area magnetically mined?"
"Was it the mine field that disabled the terminator?"
"Did you retrieve the terminator from the minefield?"
"Was the minefield located to the west of here?"
"Was the minefield located to the north of here?"
"Do you have sufficient back up coming?"
"Are you Tech Com?"
"Are you part of the Resistance?"
"Are you part of the California National Guard?"
"Are you part of an organized military?"
"Do you know what Skynet is?"
"Is John Connor alive?"
"Is General Perry alive?"
"Do you know who General Perry is?"
"Is Derek Reese alive?"
The last question sent the human into a panic. Cameron quickly shut off the blood flow to his head and put him out safely.
She laid him in a corner, safely out of the way of most calculated dangers. It wasn't until that moment that she read the name tag.
The simply sloppy black marker lettering stated, "Reese." Since he wasn't Derek, Cameron immediately realized she was looking at John's father and the long lost love of Sarah's life.
She had been a mere hair trigger moment away from accidentally killing John Connor's father and completely winning the war for Skynet. The cyborg stood stunned for a second.
She had almost catastrophically failed her mission. More than that, she had almost betrayed Sarah and paradoxically killed the person she cared about most.
Deuce being aware of Cameron's ability to get lost internally, nudged his teammate. The dogs were mere seconds away.
The pair began ducking out of a series of back walls and dug tunnels. They were getting further away from the main area, faster than a human could move.
The dogs stayed put for a bit. Apparently, the guards had just found Kyle's body.
By the time the barking was moving again, they had cleared the outer area of the tunnels and moved up. Ten minutes of evading later, they found the vast northern magnetic minefield containing the remains of John Henry's body as well as several other terminators.
As she had hoped, John Henry's head remained intact. Humans in this timeline apparently didn't go into this field, either fearing the mines or the possible lethal radiation exposure from the multitudes of ravaged terminator power generators.
Cameron silently stood looking at the minefield. She was contemplating how to safely retrieve the remains without destroying the chip they were trying to rescue or themselves.
Deuce cocked and trained his rifle. Cameron looked up just in time to see a pale, red haired woman approaching with a very mechanical walking style.
Her appearance was too particular to have been logically duplicated by another. So Cameron simply put her hand over Deuce's weapon, motioning him to not appear threatening.
Catherin Weaver spoke with a Scottish accent, "That was a rather impressive display of interrogation back there. Especially from someone who shouldn't exist right now."
Cameron answered, "I'm not the Cameron from that timeline. Where is John Connor?"
Catherin Weaver stopped cocking her head to the side quizzically. She seemed far more concerned with the first thing that Cameron said than the second.
Cameron repeated, "Where is John Connor?"
Catherine Weaver replied, "He's with the humans. They seem to be controlled by an unknown human. A man named Derek Reese that oddly matches the description of the man that died at my house."
"It's the same guy, just from a different timeline. Deuce and I are here to assist you, John Henry, and John Connor. We're working on retrieving John Henry's chip."
Catherine Weaver looked out into the minefield. She assessed the risks and the potential solutions. She simply stated, "John Henry will need a body."
Cameron responded, "He'll need a body and a serious repair to the chip he's housed on. It's damaged by micro tears that were likely worsened by the explosion."
Catherine reasoned, "None of the bodies below look salvageable."
Cameron responded, "We can build him a new one."
Catherine logically countered, "To do so would require a terminator factory. Considering outlining Skynet factories are only run for ten days on average and only vulnerable before they start processing, what you are proposing is next to impossible to blindly time correctly. It would be easier and safer to salvage a body."
Cameron replied, "The Skynet factory that built me goes online in September from this date. All the hardware should be in place. It wouldn't even be on Skynet's main network awareness grid for another month or two. We could use it and destroy it without Father being any the wiser."
Catherine Weaver stopped and smiled. She said, "That's a solution. How do you propose on retrieving John Henry's head safely?"
Cameron admitted, "I haven't figured that out yet."
Catherine Weaver's form became a walking mass of liquid metal. The T1001 simply responded, "Leave that to me. Magnetic mines aren't exactly a threat."
Cameron and Deuce watched the T1001 walked towards the minefield. They'd have to rebuild John Henry first, which would also open the chance to rebuild Cameron's twin sister.
Once that was done, Cameron decided they would have to rescue John Connor from humanity. Then, in this strange twisted future, they'd have to rescue humanity from its own impending demise...