. . .But What We Make

By Bethe

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Disclaimer: I don't own the Terminator. I do, however, own whatever characters came out of my demented little mind.

~*~

My name is Reese Connor. The life I know has been forced upon me against my will. My father used to say that the future is not set; there is no fate but what we make for ourselves. I hope to God he was right.

~*~

"John, are you listening to me?" Katherine Brewster-Connor stood with her fists planted firmly on her hips. She hesitated a few moments before snapping her fingers. "John?"

Her husband, John Connor, slowly focused his gaze. Without saying a word, he tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. Katherine, better known as Kate, sighed impatiently.

"Your daughter needs you right now. You may not think it important in the grand scheme of things, but she's just had her heart broken. By one of your soldiers, might I add."

"And what exactly am I supposed to do about that?" John asked, bringing his palms in the air. Kate rolled her eyes.

"Go to her. I've done my best. It's your turn. Show her that you care." She rubbed the bridge of her nose. "The leader of the Allied Resistance and you can't even maintain relations with your own daughter."

"She's not a little girl anymore, Kate. She can take care of herself."

"You know, you're right," she scoffed. "Reese is not a little girl anymore. She's turning into a beautiful young woman, but she's a woman who needs her father now more than anything." She bit her lip and shook her head slightly. "Do whatever the hell you want, John. You always do. But keep in mind that she is your oldest, your heir. What kind of legacy do you want to leave for her?" With that, Kate walked out of the room, her footsteps echoing on the hard metal floor.

John ran his hand down the front of his face. When did he start becoming his mother? With each day that passed after Judgment Day, Sarah Connor subtly manifested herself in him. He had made himself a promise when Reese was born in that fall-out shelter that he would always make time for her.

Well, when you've got the whole world depending on you, even plans with the best of intentions suffer.

~*~

My father has been a hard-ass for as long as I can remember. Mom said it had something to do with survival. If you're soft, then you're weak. If you're weak, then the Machines have an easy target. And heaven forbid John Connor become an easy target.

You have to give him credit for all the shit he'd been put through. It's hard to imagine knowing ever since you were young that you would be the most important man in the world. . .after a massive nuclear holocaust, that is. And then there's the whole Terminator thing. That's a mind-blowing trip.

Sometimes I wonder if he had the chance to really change it all. . .if he had the opportunity to go and destroy CyberDyne before it even got started. . .would he do it? Would he sacrifice the life he knew? His family? His memories? The T-101?

At times, I think not. And not for the whole power thing. Sometimes, I don't even think he wouldn't do it for me and mom. I think he wants the memories of Terminator. T-101 was the closest thing to a father that he ever had. Sure, he knew who his real father was. . .but somehow that didn't seem to count. Terminator was there during a crucial time in Dad's life.

The only time I've ever seen him get sentimental was over a damn machine.

~*~

Reese Connor peeked around the corner. Empty. Biting her lip, just like her mother would, she stepped quietly into the corridor and quickly made her way down the length of it. She kept her hand at her hip, her fingers in constant contact with the gun that was always at her side. Her rubber soled boots made no noise. Her medium-length auburn hair swung back and forth with her activity.

Stopping at another corner, Reese glanced fluidly at either side before making a quick dash to the door. She exited past the sleeping guard after letting the dogs smell her hand. Then she climbed up the ladder and opened the hatch before crawling above ground. She'd made it.

Glancing at her watch, she knew that she had very little time before the HK's made their second round past the barracks. Withdrawing her pistol from its holster, she sprinted for the cover of a downed Machine. Once at her destination, she crouched with her back to the cold, unforgiving metal and waited. After a few moments, she shifted until she could look past her cover. The skies were empty. Counting to three, she pushed herself up with her strong leg muscles and headed for a 1990's model car that she'd spotted in the distance.

Upon reaching the car, she waited. Right on time, a lone HK hovered in the distance, searching for any human dissidents. Reese, not even winded, maintained a firm grip on her gun and brought it up parallel with her face. She waited until the whirring of the HK was right over her. Then she aimed at its most vulnerable spot: its power source. With Terminator-like precision, she fired four shots in quick succession, then crouched and covered her head with her arms. The resulting explosion wasn't necessarily deafening, but it did leave her ears ringing for a few moments.

With that threat out of the way, Reese left her cover and started to run as fast as her legs would carry her. She breathed a silent prayer of gratitude for her strenuous training. John had always said she was just like her grandmother.

~*~

I guess when you think about it, the decision was out of my hands, really. It had been made for me a long time ago. The T-101 had told my father on Judgment Day that his children would be important. I didn't want that honor, any of it. So, I took the only viable option left for me.

~*~

"Sir," a massive soldier standing in front of John said, catching his attention.

"Yes?" he asked without even looking up from the reconnaissance documents that had been delivered to him about the Machines' headquarters.

"She's gone, sir."

John looked up questioningly. "Who's gone?" he asked.

The soldier shifted uncomfortably. "Your daughter, sir. She's missing. The guard at the door says he remembers hearing someone go topside, but figured it was one of us needing some air. That was around one A.M."

"Damn it," John breathed, rubbing his face with one hand. "Do you have any idea where she's headed?" When the soldier shifted uncomfortably once more, he pounded the desk with one hand and demanded, "Where?"

"Topside surveillance shows her heading west. Towards the Time-Displacement facility, sir."

John sat back in his chair, the realization sliding into the pit of his stomach like liquid ice. "She's going to try and stop it," he whispered.

"Stop what, sir?"

John looked back at the messenger. "Judgment Day."

~*~

All my life I've been told that I would be this great leader someday. Just like your old man, he'd tell me. Bullshit. I may be the offspring of the great John Connor, but I'm no leader. I know Dad thinks I'm going to try to do something heroic, like stop it all from happening. But I don't have the balls to do it. Maybe I can make a life for me other than Reese Connor, daughter of the leader of the Resistance, and granddaughter of the Legend. No fate? I hope so.

~*~

An uncommon occurrence in the arid desert started to happen: a cool wind picked up. The air became dense, almost electric. Then, blue lightening seemed to appear out of nowhere. Thin, jagged fingers licked the air about them. A brilliant flash, and a liquid-like sphere materialized, or grew, rather. Another brilliant flash and the sphere burst, the force of it setting a cactus on fire. A figure, decidedly female, fell to the ground. Upon impact, she let out a cry of pain.

She slowly rolled into a sit and groaned, bringing her left arm forward to examine it. Shards of petrified ground were embedded into her skin all along her left side. Whimpering, she cautiously got up and made her way to soft ground before she collapsed again.

After the blinding red haze brought on by the pain had dissipated, she slowly pushed herself up once more and waited until another pain-induced haze had disappeared before tentatively taking a step. That step, however, turned into a stagger. To her own surprise, she kept her balance and remained upright.

After what seemed like an eternity, the lights she had once seen at a distance were now right in front of her. What during the day must have been a thriving city suburb was, at night, a desolate waste land. Coughing, she staggered across the vacant streets until she found what looked like a home and pounded on the door as hard as her now rubbery arms would allow her.

A bleary-eyed man opened the door, but instantly became alert upon taking in the sight before him. A shivering woman stood in the doorway; naked, bruised, and bleeding. He saw her begin to reel and pitch forward. In one fluid motion, the man caught the stranger and lifted her up, holding her like a child.

"My God," he whispered before rushing her into his home and gently placing her on the sofa. He brushed her snarled and matted auburn hair from her shockingly pale face. He left her side to fetch a phone. He called 911, told them the necessary details, and abruptly hung up to return to her side. She was still conscious, but barely. "What on earth happened to you?"

~*~

To Be Continued. . .