Author: Burnout'83 PM
Two alternative universes Cameron is presented with a difficult set of decisions. In her timeline John Connor is brutal bitter man with a messiah complex. When faced with the sensitive, alternative eighteen year old version of John Connor, who has no idea of who he is or his future,Cameron's sense of loyalties are conflicted and she begins to question her priorities.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - John C. & Cameron - Chapters: 12 - Words: 47,263 - Reviews: 160 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 28 - Updated: 05-24-13 - Published: 06-28-12 - id: 8265446
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
John regained consciousness. He was naked, lying on the floor inside a windowless room. The concrete floor was hard and cold. A T-600 terminator without sheathing was standing over him. Of course he didn't have a clue what a T-600 was,so apart from the freakish death's head grin and the demonic red eyes, it gave John Reese the initial impression maybe he was having a conversation with an intelligent, but deranged piece of military hardware . The confused machine kept insisting his surname was Connor. Of course John wasn't aware this is a terminator's 'friendly' warm-up routine before they get down to ripping 'data' out of their victims. Anyway, John thought, he'd probably dozed off playing online chess back in his bedroom and he was having an extremely lucid nightmare, so he refused to take the questions the machine was asking him and the situation too seriously .
John was trying to figure out the logic underlying the T-600's questioning, and he was about to ask if this 'Skynet' was maybe some new satellite cell network, when the steel door and reinforced concrete wall at the far end of the bunker system exploded into shrapnel and the T600's human slave-workers began screaming as they were mown down in the ensuing fire-fight.
Within seconds the invading force battled their way to the area where John was being held. A hail of gunfire and explosions swung the light bulbs and rocked the dust out of the concrete ceiling. Being its mission priority, and it being a rather unintuitive model, the 600 series terminator stood impassively beside John guarding him as its primary target and prisoner. At the sound of the advancing battle John got on his feet and began backing towards the wall.
All fell silent for a few seconds and then there was a high pitched whine. A dark haired girl appeared in the doorway. She shouted ," get down " with such force John threw himself against the wall a fraction of a second before she blasted the T-600 apart with plasma canon . She advanced towards John striding over a solidified pool of coltan slag and the more identifiable parts of the machine's sparking and smouldering remains. She was about three paces away from John when she abruptly stopped and tilted her head. For a few beats John and the girl stared at each other in frozen silence. Then with a flick of her pony tail she turned and whistled over her shoulder. Four more soldiers cautiously peered around the frame of door.
One particularly fierce looking soldier with a deeply scarred cheek and forehead glared at John marched over to him booting bits of scrap metal out of his path. When he was so close John could feel the soldier's breath on his face he pressed the muzzle of a 9mm Browning into the centre of John's forehead and slipped off the safety. He fixed John with a pair of ultra hard green eyes and growled, "Son, you'd better not be a god-damn me-clone, so, what did your mom give you for your tenth birthday huh?" Scarface demanded, twisting the muzzle on John's forehead.
John's eyes darted around his room in panic. "Birthday?" He spluttered out the first image that came into his head. "Mutant Turtles bedcover… wait, no that was when I was seven, no eight... I don't remember", he yelled.
'Think carefully, this is important,"Scarface barked, pressing the gun against John Reese's forehead even harder so it forced his head to crane back against his neck. John gulped and started trembling. The rest of the squad were training their weapons on him too. John's legs started shaking uncontrollably and he felt a pressure being relieved in his bladder. The other soldiers coughed and snorted to cover their amusement Scarface glanced down at his boots but by the time he looked back up the rest of his squad had stopped smirking. At that point the brown haired girl stepped in between John Reese and Scarface and said in an almost exasperatedly patient voice "Guys, this isn't helping, let's try another approach shall we?" The girl gently motioned with her hand for Scarface to lower his weapon, which grudgingly he did.
"Hi, I'm Cameron Phillips", Cameron beamed a friendly smile and thrust out her hand. When Cameron realised John wasn't going to return her greeting, she reached up and touched John's shoulder and tilted her head. Her expression froze for a few seconds as if she was very deep in serious thought.
"Definitely not a clone, no implants or tracking devices 100% organic match. He's AU"She announced
"What the hell Alternative Universe did the Metal pull him out of then?" Scarface demanded.
"I don't know yet," replied Cameron in a calming neutral voice. She sounded like a teacher talking to a group of fractious students trying not to make them feel like a bunch of dumb asses "I think we will get further if I talk to him and maybe you and Delta Squad go and check out Skynet's latest invention, you know make sure the bubble-heads don't fry anyone before I get there?" The girl raised her eyebrows to emphasise her point.
Scarface snorted and slammed his weapon back into its holster and signalled his men to stand their weapons down. " Hitchens," he ordered" go strip a Grey . Get a jacket , cover the kid up with it. "The rest of you, with me." Hitchens snapped -to and ran out of the room in search of clothing. Scarface turned to Cameron, "Phillips, if that kid gives you any grief you just collar okay, I'll be outside."
"I will 'holler'," Cameron replied earnestly "You better take this," she added, un-strapping the very big plasma cannon slung around her shoulder. Scarface made an 'ugh' sound as he struggled with its weight. "Huh thanks Cam,"he muttered.
The squad stomped out of the room following Scarface and John Reese breathed out a huge sigh of relief. He studied the girl's features desperately trying to find something to trust. On the face of it she appeared the least psychotic of anyone or anything he'd met in this deranged place so far. Trust her? Did he have the option? John eyes fixed on the burnt-out chassis of the T-600, "what the hell did I do, why does everyone want to kill me? What is that thing?"
Cameron held out the palms of her hands in front of John as if she was quieting down a startled horse "Come on, one question at a time. Please, don't be afraid, I'm not going to torture you or anything. I promise." One slightly odd mannerism John picked up immediately was the way this young girl had casually used the word 'torture', like she was highly fluent in 'torture'.
Hitchens re-entered the room and threw a combat jacket to Cameron which she snatched out of the air with a swish of her arm. She handed the jacket to John .It was bullet-riddled and splattered with the blood of the previous wearer. John Reese turned his back to her and pulled the jacket around his shoulders and slipped his arms through the sleeves. It draped over his body like a bloodied camouflage tent, but it was an order of magnitude better than being naked in a hostile place.
Hitchens took up a protective stance behind Cameron. He chewed on his lower lip and examined John carefully. "Mam, you sure you are okay with this guy? Like he's freaking us the hell out. Boss ain't happy with it either," Hitchens spat on the melted T-600 endoskeleton and when he turned his attention back to John his expression made it quite plain he'd happily slit John's throat at Cameron's request.
Cameron continued as if this was perfectly normal behaviour from her men. "I am fine Hitchens, honestly, thank you for your concern, and thank you for finding the jacket .I'm sure our guest appreciates it."
"Colonel." replied Hitchens respectfully," like The Boss says, if you need us you just hollar, we're only in the next room along. "
"It's okay, please Hitch, return to your squad." Cameron replied calmly.
Reluctantly Hitchens went off to rejoin the rest of Scarface's team. John Reese put his hands in the jacket pockets and shook his head in disbelief. There was no starting point make to sense of anything with so he blurted out his first thought."You're a Colonel?"
"Yeah" "totally sucks doesn't it? Cameron grinned,
John found himself trying to sound as bold and professionally connected and as adult he could..." Right, Colonel Phillips… I want a lawyer. My Mom's an English professor at UCLA and we know lawyers, it's my human right to have legal representation and people are going to know I am missing "
"And?" replied Cameron frowning in amusement.
"I want a lawyer, I want one now, and that's it." John repeated firmly.
"Hate to break it to you but we killed all the lawyers first," replied Cameron in deadpan terminator.
John took a step back from her in terror.
Cameron her hands out again, "okay, okay sorry, my very bad attempt at humour. That was a misquote: Henry VI, William Shakespeare." John's eyes were boggling. "You know Shakespeare: That English guy writer, Henry Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78 - "first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers?" Cameron examined John for signs of cognizance then shook her head and sighed, "I like reading classics and researching cultural and historical data... Look, for technical reasons there aren't any lawyers around here any more, so there's no way I can get you a lawyer, but you got us, we're on your side". She frowned in the cutest way possible to emphasize her point.
"You're my side? So who was the guy with the gun at my head?"
"He was extremely stressed but next time he sees you he'll probably have calmed down enough to be reasonable."
John tried to read her expression for signs she was playing with him. She seemed sincere, concerned even.
" Soo..." Cameron daintily stepped around John in a 360 circle scanning him up and down from head to toe. "Do you want to tell me your name?" I'm guessing your first name is John?"
"And how old are you?" she asked.
"Where are you from John Reese? "
"LA" John answered.
She'd paced around him in a balletic full circle and stopped in the exact stance she'd stepped out from. Cameron's eyes searched his "Why doesn't anyone believe me?" he asked.
"Why should anyone believe you?" Cameron replied, resting her elbows on the back of a chair. She leaned forward bringing her hands gently together in front her - "It's okay, I believe you though," she said quietly.
"So what did I do? Why does everyone want to kill me, and what the hell's that thing" – John pointed at the terminator's fried-out chassis where melted onto the concrete.
"You didn't do anything. They won't try to capture you again, trust me."
"How do you know they won't?"
"We're going to strip their equipment, take what we need and blow this place apart when we have finished up here."
"So where is this?"
"I can't tell you John, if I explain where this place is, that kind of knowledge will get you killed, and we can't protect you any more than we are doing now."
Cameron's friendly manner switched to default; Boots were approaching. Scarface stuck his head back in the room. He strolled over to the skull of the terminator and stood with his boot on it as if it were a rock at the summit of a mountain he'd climbed and he was posing for a snapshot. He drew a cigar butt out of his pocket and sparked it up with a Zippo lighter. He took a deep breath exhaled and coughed, and like Hitchens , Scarface spat on the melted T-600 remains before turning his attention back to John "Do you know hat that thing is ?"Scarface asked with a less menacing tone than he'd used before.
"No sir ", John replied.
"You sure, no one's ever told you anything about machines like that?"
"No sir," John replied honestly.
"Un-fucking-believable, but I don't think you are lying. "
"See, John I told you he was calming down," Cameron grinned at John and wrinkled her nose to try to break the tension.
"Cameron shut up, I'm trying to be damn serious here," Scarface barked. "You live with your mom, right, her name's Sarah?"
"And she's never said anything about robots to you?"
"No sir", John replied frowning at the peculiarity of the question.
"You ever been to or lived in Mexico, or El Salvador, or Nicaragua or any of those places?"
"No sir, I've lived in LA all my life." John said.
"What does you mom do John?"
Cameron chimed in,"Sarah's an English teacher at UCLA "
Scarface took a couple of moments to make up his mind, and when he did he delivered his summary judgement:
"Okay John, I'm gonna offer you two options: Option1 , were going to pump you full of sodium pentothal and you're going to wake up back in your bedroom and all of this is going to seem like a very bad dream, one you never gonna discuss with anyone, or so help you God,... or there's Option 2
"Yeah that's where I order Cameron out of here, and for the sake of the rest human race and against my best wishes for you I put bullet in your head. I'd seriously consider Option 1 if I were you, but it's your choice."
John was on the verge of tears and shaking with both fear and relief. Scarface had this way of peering into you like God was checking out your soul." I promise I will never talk about this sir," John said slowly, and he meant it.
Scarface studied him very carefully for a few seconds, glanced to Cameron for confirmation and when she gave it he folded his arms and nodded. "Okay – that's it well done kid, I know I can trust you, you can ..." Scarface was about to tell John Reese he could go home, when from another level below there was an explosion and rattle of intense automatic gunfire . Scarface pressed his earpiece and shifted the cigar butt into the corner of his mouth. "Result lieutenant, should have guessed the slimy Grey bastard had a panic room down there. . . Bring him up" Scarface turned to Cameron, his mood seemed to have brightened, "One grade- A prisoner for interrogation. Let's see how these Grey bastards like things the other way round, huh?"
Cameron stiffened and politely nodded. Her expression became utterly inscrutable. "Perhaps our prisoner's interrogation could wait until John is safely on his way home?"
"Sure" he shrugged, "we would not want to be upsetting the sensitive Mr. Reese here now would we? So... Scarface snorted to John "you go on, run along home to mom kid and forget this entire killer robot-shit, okay." Scarface held him in his cold stare. He was getting angry again "You're sixteen rights John? .You want to know what piece of hardware I got when I was fifteen?" Scarface's expression hardened and he was looking at Cameron when he spoke .John noticed the tendons in Scarface's neck pulling tight like steel cables. John didn't have a clue what the man was talking about but he could tell his anger was aimed at Cameron, like a bully in the classroom. Against any instinct for self preservation John felt a wave of courage and indignation that both startled and exhilarated him. "I don't know what you mean sir, "John replied, and for the first time a note of defiance edged into his voice. Scarface drew himself up to his full height and his right fist curled.
"That is enough. "Cameron snapped stepping up to Scarface. Their eyes locked in a staring match. It was like witnessing the tension during a live stand-off between two nuclear armed superpowers. Scarface gave it up and looked away first. "Just get the hell out of here kid, and get home to your mom okay, before I change my mind, and you listen to what she says, whatever she says , your mom's not crazy right " Scarface said angrily.
"How do you know my mom?" demanded John squaring up to Scarface.
"Just get the hell out of here kid will ya, now."
Cameron grabbed hold of John's sleeve dragging him past Scarface. "Seriously John Reese come with me, now"When they passed she glanced back to eyeball Scarface hard, one last time on the way out. Hitchens, who was trying to get back into the room, jumped out of Cameron's way and backed against the door frame.
When John and Cameron had gone Scarface was staring at a blank wall, smiling through gritted teeth. "Star-crossed" he said as if speaking to no one in particular.
"'Star crossed', that the tag you gonna give this mission sir?" asked Hitchens.
General Connor, still posed with his boot on the terminator's skull ran his hand over the stubble on his scalp, shook his head and cracked a shit eating grin. ". Maybe it is. Hey, you remember when you were sixteen Hitches?"
"Never been exactly sure how old I am to tell the truth sir. Tried to work it out though. I figured I might have been maybe two on J.D., could have been three though. " Hitchens replied nodding thoughtfully as he contemplated the same section of concrete wall General Connor was staring into. Maybe in that world of damp half-lit tunnels women and men saw faces in the dank bloom that was the only variation in the concrete's surface like they perceived shapes and figures in the clouds they remembered seeing as children in the days of sky before the apocalypse.
General Connor growled softy, and slapped the young resistance fighter on his shoulder." Well don't worry about it soldier, you're not the only one who doesn't know how old they are. Come Hitch on let's go check out what the bubble-heads are screwing up this time."
Cameron held onto John's arm and steered him quickly toward the TDE centre of the building. The floors and walls were humming and singing with the vibrations emanating from behind the steel doors at the end of the tunnel.
"What happens when we get there?" John asked.
"I can't explain. A medic's going to give you a jab, you'll be asleep and wake up back at home, all this is going to seem like a dream, and that's all you need to know."
"All I need to know huh," John checked. "Colonel," John asked respectfully , "can you at least tell me what that guy's problem was with me back there? I totally thought he was going pull the trigger. "
"Don't worry, you won't ever run into him again after tonight. Look..." Cameron coughed like she was clearing her throat, "for the record he carries a huge burden of responsibility and he's a good man, but when things turn out like this he tends to take it out on the people he cares for and who care for him okay."
Cameron stiffened up, "Yes like me but I give him back worse than I get. No more questions now."
When they were about twenty meters from the steel doors of the TDE unit a man appeared from around a corner with his hands over his head. He was being escorted by a group of solders towards them .They had weapons trained on him and one soldier was shoving him with his rifle butt to keep moving. Their prisoner sort of jerked forward walking as only an unwilling and reluctant prisoner does maybe on his last journey out of this world. As they got closer John could see the man was doing his best not to attract John's attention.
When the group had passed and were out of earshot Cameron pulled John to a halt with a tug of his arm." You know that man? I got the distinct impression you both recognized each other," she asked.
"That's Mr Fischer, my math teacher. Like what is he doing here?" John replied.
"I know that man too. Are you sure he's your math teacher?" asked Cameron.
"I certain, that's Mr. Fischer." said John."
"Wait here." Cameron pointed to a metal square in the floor, don't even step off this square, if you do someone will probably shoot you "
John stood dead still in the middle of the square, "why would they shoot me?"
"They would shoot you because you're wearing enemy uniform. I'll be back in less than two minutes. If anyone asks tell them Phillips told you to stand there and you don't move off that spot for anyone, you got that? "
"Cameron please,what's happening?"
"It's Fischer. Fischer changes everything." Cameron called over her shoulder as she sprinted back in the direction they'd came .He could just make out she was talking to Scarface and Hitch who were about thirty meters back down the tunnel . There seemed to be a real heated argument between the two of the, both Scarface and Cameron took turns pointing at John. Then one of the soldiers reached in his kit and handed Cameron something. When he did she stood on tiptoe put her arms around Scarface's neck and kissed him on the lips. When they broke apart she sprinted back up the tunnel to John.
When Cameron reached him she held out a small hypodermic syringe in her hand. "Roll up you sleeve," she said, and without any hesitation she stuck the needle into his arm and pressed the plunger all the way to the end with her thumb. John felt a wave of warmth flow though he and he started to go light headed.
"This is still Option Two isn't it?" John asked, realizing he was beyond the point of doing anything about it if it wasn't.
"Just stop talking. We've got to go; now "Cameron replied and she stood next to John waiting for him to lurch forward and fall to the floor. The last thing he remembered was the tunnel lights swirling like a merry-go-round, his knees buckling and giving way and Cameron catching him in mid fall, and then everything went very dark.
At 7.15 am, as on every morning during the week in term time, his mom Sarah knocked on John's door to wake him up. John grunted, "'kay I'm up," and then he opened his eyes and saw the morning light creeping across his bedroom ceiling from around the top edges of the curtains. He'd slept a deep heavy sleep full of fragmented dreams and nightmares. All his body ached. John rolled over and he jolted with the shock of what he beheld.
A pair of dark brown eyes studied him intently. Colonel Phillips was lying on her side next to him on top of his quilt wearing his purple Deep Purple T- shirt and nothing else. Before he could make a noise she snatched out a hand and covered his mouth and put a finger to her lips.
"It's okay we did Option 3, I decided to come back with you. I've lying been here all night trying to figure the optimum strategy. Do you have a steady girlfriend? I infer from the state of your room you probably don't." She whispered.
John made an 'mgumph' noise into the palm of her hand and violently shook his head.