Disclaimer: I do not claim any rights to the Terminator films, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," or any characters depicted within the films or TV series. I do claim the right to this story idea and all characters and situations of my own creation. This story was created solely for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. No profits are garnered from its distribution.
This story takes place within the episode "Born to Run."
# # #
TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
# # #
An unmarked black sedan drives through a residential street. Small homes built during the 1950's and 1960's as the city rapidly grew. Here and there the occasional anachronistic house built in more recent years break up the uniform look of the neighborhood.
The car pulls up outside a single story bungalow built in a Spanish Mission style. A large window graces a single gable end facing the street, beside it a deep porch shades the entrance and windows to a living room. Further back sits a freestanding single car garage with a clay tile roof just like the house.
A middle-aged man in a black suit steps out of the car. With youthful energy he walks up the walkway, flat stones set in the grass, to the front porch. He pauses long enough to check the house number on the support post for the porch roof against the number in his memory. Confirming he has the right house, he continues to the door and rings the bell.
Mr. Aldridge had been contemplating this visit since his office was inundated with calls from people with nothing but good things to say about the woman they knew of as Sarah Baum and her two children John and Cameron Baum. The uncomfortable difference between what they said about Sarah and what the official reports said, raised nothing but questions in Aldridge's mind.
He went back to the original reports filed in 1984. The Sarah described in the police reports following the police massacre and the first incident at Cyberdyne Systems, was more like the younger version of the Sarah described by those who know her now, not the Sarah described in the official reports since 1995. So the only option left is go back to the source. To speak to the only one who met that younger Sarah and who could shed some light on the truth. What exactly did happen at the West Highland Police massacre? Who was the man who did it? And why was he never found?
Mr. Aldridge rings the doorbell again.
In a backroom of the house, just off the kitchen, a wiry old man sits in a wheelchair facing a typewriter on a small table. Beside the table is a small filing cabinet with a fax machine sitting on top of it. A coffee mug with half an inch of lukewarm coffee at the bottom of it sits beside the typewriter. The man sits looking out a bank of windows but not seeing the neatly trimmed back yard. He's busy looking at a memory and recalling an old story. With a smile, he pulls the sheet of paper, half filled with freshly typed words and lays it face down with another group of papers. He's just feeding a fresh sheet of paper into the typewriter to write up his new story, when the doorbell rings.
He ignores it, hoping that whomever it is will just leave so that he can write in peace. Then the doorbell rings again.
With a curse at not being able to write, he wheels his chair around and heads out into the kitchen and then up the hall.
The doorbell rings again.
"Hold your horses! Dammit. I'm coming." He shouts with a voice grown hoarse with age and a lifetime of smoking. He gave up smoking thirteen years ago, but his voice is still as hoarse as if he was still on his two pack a day habit.
He gets to the door and swings it open until the security chain stops it.
"Yeah! Who is it?" He growls at the younger man.
The man snaps off a pair of sunglasses. "Mr. Vukovich?"
The younger man folds his sunglasses and slips them into the front pocket of his suit coat and pulls out a small leather case.
He opens it revealing a badge. "My name is Aldridge. Special Agent with the FBI. I wonder if I might be able to ask you a few questions."
"I'm not a cop anymore," the old man says, gesturing at the wheelchair.
"I know. It's about an old case."
"Oh hell. Hold on a minute while I get the door."
The door gets slammed in Aldridge's face. He can hear the sound of a chain being withdrawn. Next moment the door opens. Mr. Vukovich wheels back, holding one edge of the door.
"You've got a nice place." Mr. Aldridge says as he walks in.
"That's mostly Maria's work."
"Is she your wife?"
"No. My housekeeper. She comes in once a week. I live alone." The ex-detective closes the door and begins wheeling down the hallway to the kitchen. "Follow me. I've got a pot of fresh coffee, or will have one soon."
Aldridge follows the man down to the kitchen.
"Bought this place in the 1980's shortly after I got out of hospital. Had the kitchen redone in the 90's to accommodate the wheels." He pats the side of the wheelchair.
He starts getting out cups, to pour them each some coffee.
"I get the feeling you know why I am here." Mr. Aldridge says as the man begins filling a mug.
"The last time I had a visit from the FBI was in 1995. Again later in 1997. Both times by the same agent. A handsome young black man, look like he was fresh from Quantico. Ellerby, Ackerson... Oh, what was his name?"
"Yeah! That's it. He had a boatload of questions." He hands Aldridge a mug of coffee. "Sorry got no cream or sugar. I only drink it black."
"Black is fine."
"I know why you are here. I watch TV. I figure you want to ask me the same questions as that Ellison fellow. I've got nothing more to say about Sarah Connor."
Aldridge takes a sip of his simmering cup of coffee. "I don't want to ask you about Sarah Connor."
Vukovich looks at him doubtfully, but intrigued.
"I want to know what happened at the police station, when those seventeen officers were killed."
"You've read the police reports?"
"Yes. They were very thorough. I even read the transcripts where you were interviewed. But you and I both know that when it comes to filling out reports or giving evidence, some things get left out. The kind of things that don't make sense to those who don't know the truth. The same people who decide if you are eligible for a raise in pay, or rank, or even a full medical pension."
Vukovich looks at Aldridge for a long time.
"Come with me."
He leaves his mug on the counter and wheels into the all season porch where he does his writing. Mr. Aldridge follows him, leaving his coffee behind too.
"Police pension isn't much, even with the insurance. I make up for it by writing police and crime stories for some of the detective magazines. A few years ago I even began publishing collections of my short stories in paperback. Making a nice living at it."
Mr. Aldridge looks at shelves on a back wall with stacks of magazines on them. He picks up a few and thumbs threw them.
"I read magazines like these in high school and college. I was planning on going into law, but after law school I applied at the FBI instead of taking my BAR exams. Boy did I piss off my parents who wanted me to be a lawyer. Are you in these? I don't see your name."
"I write under a pseudonym. Look for the name Leroy McElroy. That's me."
"You are Leroy McElroy? You are my favorite author. Your stories captured the true nuances of a cop on the case while still having enough embellishment to make the stories fun and entertaining."
"I get a sense you're buttering me up. Why do you want to know what happened the night I lost the use of my legs?"
With true seriousness Aldridge says. "I believe her. I think Sarah Connor has seen things and experienced things that the world won't believe because it doesn't fit with their notions of what the world is. Because of that they locked her in a hole and force fed her drugs and tried to brainwash her that what she's seen and knows is a lie. Well it isn't a lie. There is just enough circumstantial evidence that support her claims, but it isn't enough to prove in any court."
"Why'd you come to me if you have all this evidence?"
"Because other than Sarah, you are the only person to have seen one of these things up close and survive. I need to know what you saw that day. I need to know what you know about Kyle Reese, Sarah Connor, and the unknown person who killed seventeen officers with families in 1984."
Hal Vokovich looks over the younger man for a long time before finally speaking.
"I like you, but I can't help you. I've sat on this story for twenty-five years. It isn't something I talk about."
"You told Agent Ellison."
"I gave Ellison what he wanted to know. Cut and dry answers to straightforward questions. Besides things have changed now." The old detective looks around the room.
"What things? I just want to know what you saw, maybe what others told you they saw."
The old detective shakes his head, "I'm not about to tell it, but because I like you, I've got something I want to give you."
With a growl of "Follow me," Vokovich turns his wheel chair around and heads out into the kitchen and down the hall with Aldridge close behind him. Only halfway to the living room, he turns into a door leading into a bedroom.
Fairly basic, bed, night stand, closet, bureau, and in one corner a small table cantilevered from the wall with a laptop on it.
"Why do you do all your writing on a typewriter when you have a computer?"
"My sister bought that for me through a local firm, so we can keep in contact. Some email, but mostly we Skype on the weekends. She keeps asking me to come live with her. I might do it, too. Its getting to be a man can't work or live at home without some nosy-parker prying."
Then in a flash the old detective mood changes as a story comes to mind.
"Speaking of computers. I remember when we first got one at the police station. An IBM PC that linked to the database at the state police and FBI by a modem that was so slow, you could order lunch, fix a cup of coffee, and have both consumed by the time the data loaded. There was this one time..."
Grinning, Aldridge interrupts him, "Sir, I believe you brought me in here for a reason?"
"Yeah, right." Vokovich gestures at the closet. "Top shelf. Take down the box that's up there and set it on the floor."
Aldridge grabs the box, one designed for holding file folders and sets it on the floor.
"Open it. It contains manuscripts to all my short stories when I first began writing. The rest are in storage. I keep these here to remind me to stay humble. I may have a hundred stories in my head, but it takes practice and skill to tell them well on paper. The files are organized based on the date I wrote them, oldest to newest."
"What are the colored stickers on the top edge?"
"Blue says if I submitted it to the publisher. Green says if it was accepted, Red if it was refused. You'll notice all the red stickers. That's what keeps me humble."
"And the white?"
"White means I never sent it in. See those two folders there in front with white stickers, pull them out and hand them to me."
"I always loved telling stories. Even when I was at the Police Academy. I used to drive my supervising officers up the wall with my stories. Finally found a use for them after all these years." While he was talking he opened each folder and signed the front cover of each manuscript. "Someday when I'm dead, these might be valuable. Two stories by the author Leroy McElroy, never seen by public eyes. I want you to have them."
Aldridge who had been leaning over the open box, protests. "Thank you, but I really shouldn't."
Vukovich grabs the agents tie, pulls him close and whispers in his ear. "Take them and be grateful you smart-ass. You came to me for a story and I'm giving it to you."
Then as if nothing had happen, Vukovich lets go of Aldridge's tie and says in a normal voice,"The first story is about a troubled young man who wants to help his sister, but only ends up dragging her into danger." Aldridge straightens his tie and looks at the man curious about his behavior. "The second story is about a group of naive cops who end up in a fight for their lives and the lives of the people in their small town against a psychopathic killer who used to be one of their own. I think you will find both stories very illuminating."
Mr. Aldridge nods his head, going along with his hosts behavior. "And based on your past work very entertaining as well."
"I'll see you out. Don't worry about putting the box back. I'll ask Maria to do that tomorrow."
They head back through the house and out the front door onto the porch.
Away from the door but well inside the shade, Mr. Vukovich asks, "I couldn't ask you inside, but do you truly believe that Sarah Connor is telling the truth?"
Aldridge slips the sunglasses from his coat pocket and puts them on.
"I believe that there are people in this world, who no matter how strong the evidence is, won't believe the truth no matter how strange it might be. I also think that because these people won't believe the truth, that this world will suffer for it."
"Do you think Sarah is crazy?"
"Crazy? No more than you or I, but I do believe because of what has happened to her and her son, that she is prone to violent and at times near psychotic rage at those she perceives as a threat."
"Is Sarah a threat to society?"
"A threat? Maybe. But if she's telling the truth, then she's exactly what we need to face the coming storm. Thank you for the manuscripts."
"Thank you. If you hadn't come when you did, I was going to ask Maria to throw them out."
"Too expensive to ship them to Miami, and my writer's imagination can conjure them up again."
Sensing the visit has come to an end, Mr Aldridge waves goodbye and gets into his car and drives off. Stopping at a red light, he thumbs through the pages of the top manuscript. He comes to a passage. A young man Identified as Karl Reeves is talking to a cop.
I owe him money. So he sent one of his goons after me. A big man, a professional killer. I was told if I didn't pay him back, this killer was going after my sister! My sister is in danger and you have got to protect her! He won't stop! He won't listen to reason. You can't plead for mercy. He will not stop until she is dead!
Can't you pay him back the money?
Aren't you listening to me? He no longer cares. That's why he sent one of his goons. Now let me go so I can protect her!
That's not up to me.
If you aren't in charge, then let me speak to someone who is.
He'll kill her! He'll kill her, if you sonofabitch! Let me go!
A loud car horn blares behind Aldridge who looks up to see the light has turned green. He pulls forward and keeps on driving.
Instead of going to his temporary office at the prison, Aldridge heads to the FBI district office. He needs to do some research and that means he needs internet access. Something he doesn't have in the prison cell.
Later on after settling into a temporary office, Aldridge thumbs through the other manuscript and finds a spot that it opens to easily, the paper being creased along the fasteners.
The police station shook. Rocky had driven his police cruiser through the wall of the station house, avoiding the blockades at the doors and windows.
He stepped out of the cruiser, the floor creaking from the added weight of the car. Down below dusts trickled down onto the few residents who managed to find shelter from the killer who has finally gained entry to their shelter.
Rocky marches down the corridor, a shotgun in one hand a semi-automatic rifle in the other hand. He takes turn with each weapon as he kills one cop after the other.
Cops fire back, but the bullets cause no harm. Rocky appears to shake them off as if he was being hit with wads of gum instead of deadly bullets. Rocky was wearing body armor, but it didn't show.
Reaching the circuit breakers, he opens the panel and rips out the wire with his bare hands, sending the station house into darkness.
As the emergency lights come on, the chief of police and his loyal sergeant detective are pulling out riot gear. Rocky is quickly gaining on them. There isn't time to pull on the bullet proof vests. The chief only gets off a few shots before being cut down in a hail of bullets.
The loyal sergeant detective then jumps out with his own semi-automatic and fires at the former police officer. He's stunned as the bullets appear to just bounce off of Rocky.
Rocky turns around and aims his gun. I try to leap away and I feel the bullets strike, and then feel nothing more. Later I was told I was lucky to be alive. Lucky they call it. I'll never be a cop again and all my colleagues and friends are gone.
The man who warned us about Rocky was right. He was unstoppable. We never should have doubted him.
Aldridge studies the manuscript to make sure what he read was correct. Mr Vukovich had suddenly switched from third person to first person.
He went from writing fiction to writing a biography. The truth of the events.
Mr. Aldridge had his story. Terminators were real, and it was one of them that had shot up that police station and killed all those cops, just to get to Sarah Connor. Maybe it was good thing he came here instead of the prison, otherwise he'd be tempted to go to her cell and show her the stories former Detective Vukovich had written.
Using Mr. Vukovich's manuscripts, Mr. Aldridge was able to flesh out the old police reports and get the full story. He compared the revised story to the transcript of the questioning of Sarah Connor while she recovered from her injuries in the factory. She didn't know much of what took place at the police station, only that Traxler and Vukovich did their duty, and she was only saved by the timely arrival of Kyle Reese. She credits Traxler with releasing him and giving Reese his service revolver.
The same intruder that killed all those cops pursued herself and Reese until finally catching them at the factory. Beyond that she can't say more other than Reese died saving her life. There was no mention in the official police report of what happened to her pursuer. Did he get away? Was he killed?
Mr Aldridge found that suspicious. He'd have to go to records and make some phone calls to find out what happened to him, or should he say it. Who would have the authority to keep such information out of both police and FBI reports?
He's interrupted by a knock on his door. Aldridge looks up. One of Quantico's latest graduates is standing in his door. Agent Cathy Partridge, recent graduate of Quantico. Black belt in taekwondo, top rating in firearms, excellent analyst. First assignment is to the Los Angeles district office, present job, temporary assignment as Aldridge's assistant.
"What is it Cathy?" He asks the latest addition to their band of agents.
"Didn't you say you went out to speak with Mr. Vukovich this afternoon?"
"Yes. What about it?"
"You need to turn on your TV. He's on the news."
Mr. Aldridge grabs the remote and turns on the small flat panel TV on the wall of his small office.
He's greeted by the site of the house he visited earlier today with fire streaming from the open windows and smoke billowing out from under the eaves. Fire trucks fill the street. Police cruisers block traffic. The night sky is filled with the rotating red, blue and amber lights of the emergency vehicles.
Aldridge turns up the volume just as an old service picture of Mr. Vukovich appears in one corner of the screen.
"... Body of a man was brought out of the building not more than three minutes ago. It is presumed to be the body of former LAPD Detective Hal Vukovich, survivor of the 1984 massacre at the West Highland Police Station. Detective Vukovich was left paralyzed by the incident and retired on a full medical pension. He continued to live on his own and filled his time writing crime novels.
Once again. A fire has taken the life of former LAPD Detective Hal Vukovich. Survivor of the 1984 West Highland massacre. More news on this at our 6 AM Rise and Shine report."
Mr Aldridge turns off the TV. He turns to see that Cathy is still standing in the doorway.
"Get hold of the TV station. Tell them I want copies off all video shot at the scene. Also get in touch with the police and the fire marshal. I want copies of all reports on their investigations into the cause of that fire. And find out when the coroner will be examining the body. I want a copy of his report too."
"It's 1 O'clock in the morning."
"Then just get a hold of the TV station and have them send over copies of all video shot at the crime scene. Also find out if other news stations were there too, and copies of their film footage. As soon as you do that, we can both go home. I'll call the others first thing in the morning."
"But weren't you going to the prison tomorrow?"
"Sarah Connor can wait one more day. It isn't as if she's going anywhere anytime soon."
Aldridge knows the young agent is curious about he wants those reports. He's just working on a hunch. Vukovich intimated two different occasions he was being observed. He never did talk openly until they were both outside with the front door closed behind them. Was his house bugged? And if so why? Who would want to keep tabs on an old man in a wheelchair? And why take the van, if it was taken?
"Cathy!" Aldridge shouts.
"Yes sir?" She pops back in his office.
"You've come straight from the academy, so you are up on the latest electronics bugs, correct?"
"Do you know if they are detectable even after being burnt in a fire?"
"Sir?" She asks, not sure where this question came from or how it relates to what is presently taking place.
Aldridge stares right at her so she knows he is serious.
Drawing on her recollections she answers, "Not if they were damaged by the fire. You might be able to locate the metal components with a metal detector, but any plastic or ceramic components would be toast."
"Thanks. Though I suspect if the source of that fire was arson, he'd remove any electronic bugs, just in case the fire didn't destroy them."
"Just working on a hunch. Make that phone call to the TV station. If the network gives you any problems, direct the call to me."
# # #
A couple of hours ago, a nondescript man watches the house fire from the crowd. He observed the body being taken out and placed in a body bag. The firemen running hoses from the hydrants and pumping water on the fire.
When the fire is put out, the firemen begin to examine the remains. The crowd begins to thin. The firemen begin to pick up their equipment and load it onto their trucks.
The lean man in the gray overalls decides it is time to leave. He walks away from the action for two blocks before coming to and getting into a commercial van. Detective Vukovich's laptop rests on the seat beside of him, with a bag of electronic bugs resting on top of it. He removed all devices and the laptop prior to starting the fire. All it would take was for one device to survive, even if damaged. Even worse if the laptop's hard drive was recovered and for it to be discovered that the laptop was used to transfer data collected by the bugs over the internet, and malware was installed to record and transfer all uses, including Vukovich Skyping with his sister.
He takes a cell phone from his pocket and places a call.
"The target has been eliminated. It will look like a suicide. All listening devices were removed prior to setting the fire."
"The target was not forthcoming on what was in the documents he gave to FBI Agent Aldridge before being terminated."
"That is unfortunate, but you may have an opportunity to terminate Agent Aldridge as well. Here are your new orders."
He listens as new orders are given. The person at the other end then asks him to repeat the orders he was just given.
"Understood. Terminate Catherine Weaver, CEO of Zeira Corporation at her place of work. Then infiltrate the county prison and eliminate Sarah Connor. If Agent Aldridge is present, terminate him as well. If time allows make it appear that they killed each other. If he isn't there, then wait for him and terminate him at his home. Leaving no trace of my presence."
"Excellent. Return the delivery van and equipment to the warehouse. A car will be provided so you can complete your other tasks without drawing too much attention. You'll then time your arrival at Zeira Corporation to be no later than 6 AM in the morning."
The T-888 drives into Zeira Corps parking garage in the provided car. The idea was for him to look like an employee arriving early for work. Also the car would make him look more official for his later visit to the prison. A black suit was in a garment bag in the trunk.
Getting out of the vehicle, he is accosted by a security guard.
Guard, "Hey. You the guy who smashed through my gate?"
Always truthful, the T-888 replies, "Yes." He wasn't going to let a slim piece of wood stop him from gaining entry. He only had to look like an employee arriving early for work. He didn't have to behave like one. So the T-888 pulls out two guns with silencers and kills the guard.
The T-888 looks away from the fallen body to see that his first target, Catherine Weaver is suddenly standing in front of him. "Hey. I liked that gate." she says to him.
T-888 confirms the identity, "Catherine Weaver?"
"Sure," she replies.
The T-888 raises both guns and empties the magazines of both weapons into her. Weaver's body trembles with each impact of the bullets, but no damage is done. The T-888 is confused. It's as if he's never seen a liquid metal machine before.
Catherine Weaver suddenly pins the T-888 to the car he drove with one arm extending into a spike. She looks behind her, to see the high voltage equipment used to supply the elevators. She stabs her other arm into the nearest cabinet sending high current through her metal body into the T-888, shutting it down.
The T-888 has failed its mission. The Kaliba AI will have to find another way to remove its targets.
# # #
Later that morning, Aldridge has returned to the offices of the FBI to make his phone calls to the police and fire marshal in regards to the death of former police detective Hal Vukovich. He reaches both offices and each agree to send him copies of their reports. Unfortunately the medical examiner hasn't gotten to the body of Hal Vukovich yet, but he promises to send Aldridge a copy just as soon as the examination is complete.
Aldridge is still waiting by the fax machine for copies of the reports to come in when the news comes on the TV. Sarah Connor has escaped from county prison, along with every other inmate.
The next few hours is organized pandemonium as the FBI coordinates with half a dozen different local police forces to round up and capture all the escapees. Agent Aldridge contacts the prison to find out about his prize prisoner. She's gone, and that's not the worse of it. The prison reports that all of their security recordings have been wiped clean. The brand new multimillion dollar security system that recorded all security videos digitally on a private server, useless. All of its hard drives have been wiped clean.
Mr Aldridge was still trying to figure that out when another news bulletin appears on the televisions at the FBI. He looks on in shock. Some kind of aircraft has flown into the top floors of Zeira Corporation. The building was in flames and fire crews were on their way. Its 9-11 all over again, only now its worse.
That's Catherine Weaver's business. Aldridge thinks. The same Catherine Weaver whose daughter was kidnapped. Zeira Corporation was a high end tech firm pushing the boundaries of automated computer operated systems and the development of artificial intelligence.
Aldridge knew in his gut, that Sarah was there. So was Ellison, who had the good sense to leave the FBI for the private sector.
The war had begun. If Sarah Connor was right, then this was probably the first salvo fired by the enemy.
As an FBI agent, Aldridge knew it was his job to hunt down and arrest Sarah Connor, but at that moment as he watched the upper floors of Zeira Corp burn on the TV set, he hoped Sarah got away. That she and her son would win the fight against Skynet.
"Godspeed Sarah Connor." He whispers, before once again being drawn back into the maelstrom of escaped prisoners and a domestic terror attack.
# # #
I found this story on my computer, unfinished and in need of an ending. I began writing it in August 2014 and for some reason I never finished it. Found it again while sorting all the files on my computer. I liked what I had read and decided I should finish the story. What the hell? Its only been three years.
In the episode, "Born to Run," Aldridge could have been lying when he told Sarah that he believed her while talking to her inside her jail cell. I'm of a mind that he was telling her the truth. There was something about Joshua Molina's performance that said the character was being sincere, and that Sarah Connor, played by Lena Headey, either didn't believe him or was sticking to her story to protect John regardless of what she thought of Agent Aldridge's words. Of course we have no idea what was planned for the character of Agent Aldridge. Only through the next set of episodes would we have learned whether Aldridge was a masterful liar or a very sincere FBI agent. Alas, we shall never know.
I can't recall what the initial inspiration was for this story. If memory serves, I think I had read somewhere that they had considered bringing back Vukovich for one of the Terminator sequels, either T2 or T3, but the idea was scrapped at the script writing stage. I don't know if it was my idea or the scrapped concept from the sequel that made Vukovich a paraplegic, injured during the massacre. However, I recalled how Vukovich always seemed to be ready with a story in "The Terminator" and I thought what else would he do but continue to tell stories to supplement his income. So I made him a writer of fiction. Police dramas of course. He was keen on telling crime stories.
This story could easily work with my fanfic "Reunion," but it could jut as easily stand alone as a tie-in to one of the best season finale's I've ever seen, "Born to Run." I just hope you enjoy it and appreciate my tying "Sarah Connor Chronicles" back to its roots in "The Terminator."
September 29, 2017