Disclaimer – From the shoulders of Giants like Cameron, Hurd, Mostow, Kassar, Vanja, Freidman, Writh, Schwarzengger, Hamilton, Sthal, Danes, et al, we can see far
The End is the Beginning is the End
A/N – this can be considered as a kind of sequel to Capeless Crusader. It takes place in the spring of season 2 about two weeks before Prom.
Sarah was out on a Mission with my uncle Derek.
We had tangled with some Russian speaking Terminators. They were really strong and really dumb. Cameron got banged up a bit in the opening of the skirmish, but the rest of us took them down and by the time Cameron was back on her feet, she put them out.
After we were done though, my uncle had nearly gone around the bend. It was like when my mom was in Atascadero State Mental Hospital raving, "You're all ALREADY DEAD. EVERY ONE OF YOU!!" Except he was saying, "There are no Russian Terminators, they're all American. Some of them my have funky accents, but they're all American."
I was pretty sure there was a rational explanation for it. Maybe these models were made to infiltrate resistance cells in Russia, ohh there's a thought. Or maybe I had recruited some Russian and Ukrainian mafia guys into the LA Resistance up in the future and these models were made to get those guys, that makes more sense. And maybe Skynet was desperate for something to send back because we were really pounding on the gates up there in the future. So, it grabbed the nearest thing to send which happened to be one of these Russian speaking models. So, what? Not worth getting all worked up about it. I was still going to the Prom in two weeks and Cameron even had a date. Morris from Auto Shop had asked her.
When Cameron suggested a trip to the bank, it didn't seem completely out of the ordinary. We had parleyed the favor we did for Jordan Cowen's family into a small PI racket that we jokingly called the Bailey and Olivaw Agency. We worked the occasional case for our friends when we weren't on Resistance Official Business. And sometimes we got paid in cash, so the Agency had a bank account. Big deal. Except we hadn't had a case since the last trip to the bank and she was driving us into an older part of town. Not where we had our account.
When I looked at the cornerstone and saw 1964. I knew something was up.
We weren't in the vault this time. We were in a redundant power room in the parking garage.
"You're going back aren't you." I said to her.
"Yeah. I've stayed as long as I can. I have error checked my personality template out to one part in 100 quintillion." Million, billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion, for those of you keeping track at home that's a 1 with a whole lot of zeros after it. "One part in 10 billion is the standard your techies set."
"Come on… stay. A garage band has invited you to be their front woman/ lead singer. Even my uncle has accepted you as part of the team, and besides Morris wants to take you to the Prom remember?" Man was I laying it on thick or what? What's wrong with me. She's got Mission Directives, besides she's a Machine. Right. Isn't she a Machine?
"Weeaaak." she says and gives me a thumbs-down. "The band will find someone else and so will Morris. Tell me why I should stay." She starts opening up control panels.
I tell her, "I heard Sarah say you were like the little sister she never had."
Cameron looks up from the eye scanner and gives me a very human look of disbelief. "Come over here and do this with me," she says
As I cross the inner
and outer circles pained on the floor, I add by way of explanation,
"She was trying to explain you to my uncle late one night a several
weeks ago over couple of beers." And then I lean over and she puts
my eye scan into the system.
"You mother survived without sisters. Why do you need me to stay—you John Connor, right now." She poked me in the stomach playfully with her finger. And then she started leading me through the procedures for powering up the time field.
"Aw, come on," I said, elbowing her below the ribs. Her ribs weren't bone and they hurt a lot. "We're the rising stars of the school news paper and we're playing on the co-ed soccer club together. Who'd have ever thought that Sarah would let us stay in activities like that?"
"You can write and play soccer without me." She stands behind me and whispers the data to program the time coordinates and makes me whisper it back as I enter it. The Time field starts warming up. "You must be able to give a better reason than that." She turns and looks at me seriously. "John, in order for you to be successful in the next phase of this project you need to know three keys. One of them you already know. One I have to tell you and one you have to figure out here."
"I need you to protect me?"
"You have your uncle for that. And besides you have enough anti-terminator weapons to hold out for a couple of days, if the resistance misses the date when we send the next one.
"Look inside yourself John. I have to go. Give me an overwhelming reason to stay."
"So what, I'm getting another protector?"
"If you need one." She turns to the terminal and begins checking the time travel coordinates. "Look inside yourself," she tells me again.
I think for a moment, but I know what it is. "Okay. I need you. You're my friend. When you and Mom go out on a Mission without me sometimes, I'm more worried that you won't come back than I am that she won't."
"That's good," she licks a finger and paints it downward in the air marking a point on an imaginary score board. "Let it flow from your soul."
"You sound like Oprah." I continue, because she's making my circular hand gesture. "Alright. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm falling--"
"Ehm." She stops the circular motion and holds up a flat hand and then moves over to reach up and touch my lips with one finger. "Save it for the human girl." Then she looks up and appears to be reconsidering. She makes an entry into the terminal and the time field grows quite but not silent.
She walks over to me and takes me in very full embrace and kisses me. I mean really kisses me.
And this time it's me standing there like a robot. I'm caught completely off guard. "I thought you just said."
"I said to save the words. Now shut up and kiss me, like Neo kissed Trinity at the end of the Matrix." And for five minutes there, I am in teenage heaven. If she decides to stay, we're going to have to get GEDs and go to Community College with a different cover story, like we're a couple. "Okay," she pulls away. "I don't know which one of us needed that more."
"Where did you learn to kiss like that?" I ask very duly impressed
"From…I don't know. It just bubbled up from within somewhere." And then she brings the time field back up again. "That's your second key."
"What that we kiss really well?" I joke.
"No." She raises her voice over the whine of the time field. "What's the second thing you said?"
"That I need you?"
"You're my friend."
"Okay that's your second key," she holds up two fingers for emphasis, "Someone's going to notice the power drain in here soon and come looking, so we're got to get through this."
"I'm listening." I tell her.
"In 2025 one of your raids hit a key Skynet memory Nexus. Among the recovered files you found out about Skynet's invasion of the Middle East."
"You told me about that after the Case of the Falling Girl," I say wondering why she's repeating something I already know, when she just said she had to tell me something new. "We talked about the mezuzah, and you said that Skynet couldn't get into Israel by land, by sea, by air or by attack from space."
"I didn't tell you what Skynet found when it invaded the Arab territories. All the Arabs were already slaughtered and Islamic Killing Machines were running around blowing each other up shouting 'Allah Akbar! and 'Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!"
"So the Islamic and Russian Terminators aren't from Skynet."
"Those are your third and first keys," she takes my hands in hers like I did for her when we worked that first case together. "You'll figure the rest out."
"Okay power it down now." I say hoping against hope. I just told her she was my friend and then we had an amazing kiss, several amazing kisses. "You're staying right?"
"I have to go be Aunt Cameron for your kids." She stepped into the center circle painted on the floor. "John and Cameron Best Friends Forever; say it with me"
"John and Cameron Best Friends Forever." A tear runs down my face.
"John, if you're completely successful with the next part of the project, I may never be built." She shouts at the top of her lungs and then the blue time travel ball swallows her up and takes her.
I stand there whispering John and Cameron Best Friends Forever, over and over. Weeping. And then I go down on one knew and totally surprise myself with the level of resolve in my own voice when I say "I swear to God, Cameron. I vow that I will see you again, even if I have to build you myself."
And the suddenly it's clear. I think back to her role model, her hero: Daneel Olivaw. I think about Asimov's Three Laws and those goofy sci-fi stories we read on Saturday afternoons when we weren't cleaning weapons. Her favorites were the obscure Asimov stories about Robots and Humans exploring the galaxy together. Some alien commented that Humans were the only species in the galaxy that had both organic and inorganic intelligence where both kinds intermarried and raised families together. Lots of species built robots. Only Humans built mechanical Humans and didn't care which was which. No wonder she wanted to call the detective agency Bailey and Olivaw.
In that moment something crystallizes in my mind: I realize that even if Mom and Derek and I spent the next two years doing no nothing but industrial sabotage 24-7, tracking down and destroying every AI project in the U.S., there was no way we could stop the Russians and the Arabs, too. One of them would just get there first and then another AI based on paranoia, fear and hatred would declare war on the whole world.
The only way to stop the War with the Machines would be to build a stronger, smarter, faster AI based on friendship, respect and mutual understanding, the kind of rapport that Cameron and I had developed. We would have to build an AI that would fight for its own survival and ours too. We would have build an AI that could that could convert or defeat and rewrite Skynet and the other AIs.
I wish Miles Dyson and Andy Goode were still alive.
And then I knew why she had shown me how to power up and program the time machine.