|What We Make
Author: Viari PM
In the year 2032, a young soldier reflects on the first and only time she ever saw John Connor.Rated: Fiction K - English - & John Connor - Words: 1,691 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-06-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4521802
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What We Make
Los Angeles, 2032
I have seen John Connor only once.
It was a few days after they blew the Skynet research facility. When the Reese boys and some others disappeared on a secret mission, a mission they say only Connor really knows about. We all follow him. Connor, that is. But sometimes, with all the secrets, with all the raids and the deaths, we start to have doubts.
Doubts can be lethal in our world. They can lead to mistakes. They can lead to breakdowns. They can lead to betrayal. I'm not strong enough for that. I wouldn't go against Connor, but I'd be lying if I said my doubts haven't gotten someone killed.
Like I was saying, I've only seen John Connor once. Days after the research facility was blown. Days after my own mission in the desert ended. I'd heard rumors that we'd smashed their defense grid, but we'd been away so long we couldn't be sure. Colorado was a whole different world from New Mexico. They had mountains and even some grass. But they also had an army of machines larger than anything I could imagine. We just had the desert and our little mission to reestablish communications with the East.
We finally made it back to base in Los Angeles, my hometown. Keever was the first to meet us when we came in, and he told us about Sumner and the Reese brothers… we couldn't understand why five of our best soldiers had been sent off on some secret mission, especially when the war was nearly won. (That's what Keever and Twig and the rest of the people at base said, so I assumed it had to be true.)
After the briefing with Captain Archer, Keever cornered me in the hall.
"I hear you're back for good," he said.
"That so?" I answered quickly, my eyes darting back and forth as people passed us in the hall. A small boy was watching us from a niche in the wall.
"Hey," Keever said, brushing some stray hairs out of my face. I hadn't realized how long my hair was getting until he did that. "You okay?"
"I'm fine." I knew he didn't believe me. Keever seemed to have made it his personal mission to know me better than I knew myself. It was really annoying sometimes.
He looked down at his boots and took a deep breath. "Morgan, you're not fine." He lifted his eyes to mine and held my gaze. "What happened in New Mexico?"
I shook my head. "Nothing. We completed our mission, and nobody died." Nobody in our squad, anyway. Of course, my eyes chose that moment to start watering.
I really hate crying. I couldn't remember the last time I'd done it in front of another person. My mother never cried. My sister and brother never cried. We're all raised to be strong, to keep fighting and destroying, and to never look back.
Keever looked confused as the first teardrops spilled from my eyes. Then he pulled me into his arms, ignoring my muffled protests.
"It's okay," he whispered, his voice breaking as he ran his fingers through my hair. I realized that he was crying, too.
"The people out there," I said through the tears, not sure what I was going to tell him. I'd kept so much inside for so long. "They didn't... they didn't…"
"Don't, Morgan," Keever interrupted me with a whisper. He lifted one hand to wipe away my tears, and then he shook his head. "You don't have to tell me now. You don't have to say anything."
I don't really know why we collapsed against each other, two battle-hardened soldiers that we were. I think sometimes things just get too hard. Sometimes the only thing you can do is cry, and it doesn't mean you're weak. It took me a long time to understand that. It took me a long time to understand that our tears were one of the things that made us human, one of the few things the machines could never replicate.
That was when I saw him.
He turned the corner at the end of the hall and began to stride toward us, moving with an urgency born of many years of planning and fighting. He led a group of our highest commanders, and that's how I knew it was him. Though their eyes were grim, I could see their respect for him, the way they all positioned their bodies so that as soon as he said a word, they could hear it and act on it. The legendary John Connor, the savior of mankind. An unassuming man in his forties, probably handsome once upon a time. He didn't tower over anyone the way I'd always imagined. He had dark hair, cut short. And blue eyes.
I turned my head, still resting on Keever's shoulder, so that I could see Connor more clearly. He slowed down a little as he passed us, and his eyes rested on me for a moment. I was surprised by the compassion I saw there. He nodded at me and kept walking.
That was the only time I ever saw John Connor. I'd served him for years, going on missions, going up against impossible odds. I did it because of the legend. Because of the myth that surrounded the Connors, John and his mother both. Some of my earliest memories are of the stories we heard, about the growing resistance movement, and the incredible man who had busted out of Century and taught us how turn the machines into scrap. Those stories were our lifeline, brought to us by soldiers like Sumner, the Reese brothers, Captain Archer, and those fortunate enough to serve directly under Connor. We clung to them because we had nothing else to cling to. John Connor, the Legend, was our only hope.
I'd never thought of him as an ordinary man, but after I saw him, I realized he was like the rest of us. He was frail the way all humans are. He would break just as easily if an infiltrator got hold of him. He hurt like the rest of us, loved like the rest of us, endured like the rest of us. He reached out to me, in his own way, when I needed it most.
I'm sure he won't remember my face, or what he did to bring me comfort in that dark tunnel, but I'll always think of him that way. Not as John Connor, the Legend, but as a man who sacrificed everything and bore the weight of our struggles on his shoulders.
Every base that the resistance established had its own flavor, brought out by the people who lived there. But each one had a command center, and above the door to each one of those centers was a single phrase, carved into the metal with plasma cutters:
No fate but what we make.
Now, finally, Connor will see his dream realized.
It's been three years since the resistance took out Skynet's defense grid and began the assault on the machine stronghold. I've fought in many battles since I last saw John Connor. I watched friends die, I helped take out a factory for T-900s, and I led a group that set up communications with resistance groups in the Midwest. I even agreed to marry Keever.
The crowd roars around us. A young woman climbs atop the platform – an old, overturned semi trailer – and waves an American flag back and forth. She hands it off to an even younger man and then raises her rifle in the air, yelling victoriously. The crowd cheers her on, some of them weeping. I take Keever's hand in mine and squeeze it.
"I can't believe it's really happening," he whispers in my ear.
I just smile, because there aren't any words to express the joy in my heart. Skynet is dead, and, aside from a few pockets of resistance here and there, so are the machines.
The noise of the crowd dies down, and everyone seems to take in a collective breath. "Look," someone near me says.
I stand on my toes because I want to see this perfectly. I want this image to remain with me for the rest of my life, just as the other one has.
I am about to see John Connor for only the second time in my whole life, and this time, I know we're going to win.
He climbs up onto the overturned trailer, nodding at the boy who holds the flag. He says something I can't hear, but the boy's face beams out at us. Like me, he has never known any world besides this one, but the new world is within reach. We all feel it.
John Connor looks over to the left, at his commanders. Two of them clearly have tears in their eyes, and they begin to clap. The whole crowd begins to clap with them, a slow, deliberate action at first, gradually building speed until it becomes a glorious, unrestrained victory cry. John Connor continues to stare at his commanders for a moment, and when he turns his face to the crowd there are tears running down his cheeks.
The people around us continue to cheer and cry and clap and sing. Keever and I exchange a brief glance, laughing through our own tears. We have come so far, fought through so much. There is only a little more to go, then it is finished.
John Connor doesn't say anything as he stands atop the platform. His lips are pressed tight, his chin trembling a little as his eyes roam the crowd. Then, after he has looked over each of the faces gathered there, he raises his left hand and gives us a thumbs-up.