Disclaimer – I don't own; I don't profit, yet; they don't sue. Adelacroix posted some similar ideas first in his story 1963
A/N – Guys I just about ran out of time on this one. In the next couple of days, I deploy overseas to do my part in the War Effort. But I felt like I needed to get this story up first. You guys deserve it. I needed it. But it's not completely polished yet. I have most of the blocking, movement, gestures, feelings expressions added in, but past a certain point it's just dialog. Robert B. Parker gets away with that sometimes. Maybe you guys will let me slide on it too.
As General Douglas MacArthur said, "I shall return." He also observed, "There is no substitute for Victory."
And now without further ado…
The Beginning is the End is the Beginning
2027 Resistance Command Headquarters, Sickbay
Claxons sounded, yellow strobes spun and a booming voice intoned, "Time traveler inbound. Set Condition One throughout the headquarters. Quick Reaction Force to the time lab. This is not a drill."
Condition One required Senior Commanders on Site to move to their designated secure locations. I did not feel like moving to my designated secure location. The Weight of the World was too heavy today.
Normally, my consort and second-in-command, Kate Brewster, would be rushing me down to the vault where we spent that first night together after we rode out the Nuclear Attack. Or I would be rushing her down there, depending upon whose day it was to do the rushing.
Today she was lying next to me in a sickbay bed, with her skull caved in, severe damage to internal organs, and enough tubes running in and out of her to choke a horse.
We had already put her on a heart lung machine; that was routine, even for the rank and file. A person was worth that. But yesterday her kidneys failed and my engineers had cobbled together a dialysis machine from bailing wire, chewing gum and air conditioner filters. Not really. I don't know how they did it, but they did. Not for her though. They did it for my unborn child, still alive in Kate's womb.
Heavy footsteps trooped by at the double time in the corridor. That would be the QRF.
Lately, if Kate was out on a Mission one of the Camerons would rush me down to the bunker in her place. They looked a lot like Kate and some of my people had a hard time telling them apart. That is until three days ago when a car accident, a sniper attack and Heaven knows what else put Kate at death's doorstep. Now no one had that problem. Kate was the one in sick bay. Or my Kate was in sick bay anyway.
Today all the Camerons were occupied. Two were on Missions and one was in Mission Prep and could not be diverted. The fourth one, or the first depending on how you counted, thought she was Kate-- Kate 2.0, and she had left HQ to run operations from another command post in the field, until further notice. Until she took a bullet standing up or lifted a ton of ammunition bare handed, probably no one would notice. Before that, though, I was pretty sure we would have this mess sorted out.
I had counted from sixty down to twenty-nine, and I was pretty sure that a Duty Corporal from the Operations Center would scamper in here shortly to collect me. So, I squeezed my Kate's hand one last time and stood up to head for the elevator. My Duty Corporal caught up to me in the corridor. "Sir, we have to get you to your designated secure area."
I smiled, "What's your name, son?"
"Hurd, sir" I wondered if he was old enough to shave.
"That's where I'm headed, Corporal Hurd."
The Headquarters Proper (sickbay was outside it, though still within the mountain) always had a low level temporal field running through the whole place to forcefully divert any inbound time travelers into the Time Vault. Prolonged exposure to the temporal field even at this low level, could damage human brains and internal organs. This fact encouraged everyone to take frequent Missions in the Field.
We had been attacked once a decade ago by Terminators that time displaced straight into the HQ. Fortunately for us, the Terminators had beamed directly into our Time Lab anyway and the massive anti-Terminator weapons we had stationed in there for just such an emergency had taken them down about 0.87 seconds, give or take. Forensic analysis of the endoskeleton remains found the inception data recorded in Russian. No one wanted to think about what that meant at the time. But I persuaded my Council to allocate enough extra power for the permanent Temporal Field and to construct the Time Vault so that if we were attacked like that again, we would know the attack was coming to a prepared and fortified Vault. It wouldn't do to have the next set of Terminators appear in the mess hall or the latrine.
So, when the booming voice intoned "Time Traveler inbound," everyone knew where to find the person once the Alert was cleared.
Lightening flashed and the blue time bubble expanded and contracted. A Cameron was standing there in the center of the Temporal Field. She waited patiently for the automated eye scan to confirm her ID. While she pulled on a set of the coveralls stacked neatly out side the two circles painted on the floor, the weapons stood down, the QRF left and the booming voice returned everyone to Condition Two. Soldiers and Officers who weren't actively engaged in Operations Center or Mission Prep duty crowded into the Time Vault to greet the returning operative. Usually Missions to the past were one way. So any returning operative was naturally something of a celebrity.
Cuffing up the sleeves and pants legs of her too-big coveralls, Cameron shook hands with her well-wisher as made her way toward my designated secure location.
We caught up to each other in the hallway. My heart swelled when I saw her, but I had to be sure which one she wad before I smiled to big and said something to embarrass her. She jumped right in and asked, "How is the baby, John?"
I dismissed the corporal and turned to her, "In a minute, Cameron." I looked at her trying to reason out which one she was. It wouldn't do for the Leader of the Resistance, Savior of the World and all around Wise Man to ask an obvious question. I thought to myself that Kate 2.0 would not have Time Traveled in. So that left only Cameron Beta and Cameron Gamma since Delta was in Mission Prep. At the moment, Cameron Delta cramming computer programming and AI design theory like a freshman during Final Exams. Heck with it. "Which one are you?"
"I'm the one you haven't seen for eighteen years, duh." She threw her arms around my neck and I touched her waist gently. The she and I whispered to each other "John and Cameron Best Friends Forever."
She leaned back from me and looked into my eyes, "Now, John, how is the baby?"
"Come to the Mess Hall with me; we need to talk for a minute before I get to that. The baby is fine. For the moment, but we need to talk about that."
The cook offered us water, coffee or Prewar Army rations that had tested okay. We took some of each to a table and sat next to each other.
I took at bit of cracker and a sip of water. "The baby is fine for the moment. But that may not last, because he's still in Kate, and Kate's organs are starting to fail."
"Well she can have some of mine. I can function without them." Cameron took gulped water and munched on Crackers. I guess Time Travel makes her thirsty and hungry, too.
I smiled and touched her hand. "Thank you Cameron that's very generous of you, but that's not quite what I had in mind."
"Wait a minute, why are Kate's failing organs a concern for the baby. Cameron Alpha is back. I got her memory update before I left for my Mission to the past. The plan was that Cameron Alpha would have the baby by now and Kate would be 'released into the Eternity to Sleep with her Fathers and Mothers.' What happened?"
"Cameron Alpha came back alright, but she refused to take the baby." I began to tell Cameron Beta or my Cameron as I would come to think of her what happened.
After handshakes all around she complained about having to wear the standard coveralls. Then she complained about having to track me and Sarah for seventy-four days. She demanded to know why I had not sent my second in command back to just a couple of days before the incident. After all I did that for mere Terminators and she was the Deputy Commander of the Resistance. "I'm your 2IC, you should take better care of me than that."
I lead Cameron Alpha back to sick bay and showed her Kate. "This is Kate. Who are you?"
"I'm Kate. I'm not in that brain-smashed body anymore." She said. I'm in this one.
"Okay then… Kate." I swallowed. "What about the baby?"
"What about it?" she turned away from me and Kate both, to look out the window. "It's yours, not mine. I never wanted to bring children into this war-torn world."
"Neither did I, until we defeated Skynet. In a surge of hope and optimism after defeating Skynet, Kate and I decided to have children. You just don't remember because the memory scan of her" I gestured down to Kate lying there in the sickbay bed "that we loaded into you" I gestured toward the head of the woman standing before me "came from before we defeated Skynet. Kate and I changed our minds four months ago."
"I haven't changed mine." She turned and started to walk out the door.
"Cameron Alpha, come back here." I said emphatically, "We are not finished.
"I'm not Cameron Alpha anymore," she insisted. She moved around trying get me to look into her eyes. "I'm Kate Brewster," she declared.
"Alright, I'll call you that. But hold on for a minute. Let's work this thru. We planned that you would go down time to prove yourself to the troops by rescuing me and Sarah in 1997. We sent you there over two months early as a proof of concept to see how long you could pass for human using Kate's memories as a personality template. Then when you got back here the surgeons would transfer the baby from Kate to you."
"I'm changing the plan," she stated flatly. Then she took on a softer tone, trying to get me to understand her as she understood herself. "Maybe you did too good of a job with me. You cloned my biology based on hers from the outer flesh to heart, lungs and internal organs. You gave me her personality. I'm her. I just have a stronger, faster, better body. The troops need a Commander. There is still much to be done. We still have to figure out what to do about the Russian and Islamic AIs and their killing machines."
"Russian AI and Killing Machines, yes. What Islamic AI? There are no Islamic killing machines; what are you talking about?" I took my seat and took my Kate's hand back.
"The ones in the Middle East that slaughtered all the Arabs. If you're so weak and sentimental that you're going to stay here in sickbay feeling maudlin, then maybe you shouldn't be the Resistance Commander anymore."
She walked out of sickbay, changed into Kate's uniform, packed Kate's back pack with Kate's gear and left for the forward CP in Los Angeles.
Cameron Beta, my Cameron, listened thoughtfully while I explained how Cameron Alpha became Kate 2.0. She considered the new information for a moment. "So, if you gave us Kate's memories and Alpha was so successful at passing for human, why was I so clunky and robotic at first?"
"Think back: you had moments of memories and humanity even in the first few weeks. You told me I would have many friends in the future. We had close times even as early as the Case of the Falling Girl. You told Sarah about how I was courageous and daring in the future during the Coltan Mission."
"So, what you gave me Kate's memories repressed." Cameron thought out loud. "And sometimes they bubbled to the surface, like when I did that ballet move after our almost kiss during the Case of the Falling Girl and when I started dreaming during the fall of your Junior year?"
"Cameron," I took her hands gently, like I used to do, when I needed her to understand something that might be hard for her to process emotionally. My hands were calloused now. Hers were still young. "I gave you Kate's memories as a reference, as a map to chart our course by. I couldn't give you her whole personality. I needed you to grow into yourself. Just like you needed me to grow into myself. Even if neither of us could quite say why." I released her hands as I remembered saying that I would see her again even if had to build her myself.
"So that's why you said to me, 'You'll see me again, Cameron, but only if you help me become me' before I left for 1999," she looked into the distance and then back to me. "I never quite understood that before."
We were both quite for a moment. Cameron reached across and took on of my hands affectionately. She spoke first, "So, while you were patiently helping me grow into myself, treating me like a person not a tool …"
As she trailed off, I continued, "you were giving me hope for the future, hints about who I would become, and convincing Sarah to give me room to grow as well."
We sat there and looked into each other's eyes and whispered, "John and Cameron Best Friends Forever." We each release the other's hand.
I stood and she followed. "Now, I have to ask you a couple of things. How are your systems?"
She didn't even have to pause for that one. "Memory, processors, sensors and strength all check out."
"And your biological systems?"
She thought for a moment, running an internal diagnostic, "Circulatory, pulmonary, endocrine, digestive and everything else check out."
"Okay then," I place a hand on her shoulder to show the gravity of what I was about to ask of her, "Cameron Philips, will you be the mother of my child?"
"Are you asking me to marry you?" she smiled and lifted up on tip toe.
"Maybe." I looked distant, hesitant. I was off script here. I had precious few pearls of wisdom from any further in the future to continue guiding me. I was starting to make this up as I went along. "But first I'm asking you to accept my son and carry him to term"
"Can a machine give birth to a human?" Cameron mused, wistfully.
I looked into my Cameron's eyes, "I always thought of you as a person, Cameron."
A look of concern crossed her face, "What about Kate, the original I mean?"
A look of sadness crossed mine, "Kate will probably die when we unplug the life support."
"And the other one?" she asked gently.
"She has no interest in motherhood." I stated flatly.
"Well, I have no designs on Command, so let me think about it."
"Okay, take your time." I walked to the door of the Mess Hall. I looked back at her and smiled.
"Do you want to know my decision?" she brightened.
"You thought about it that fast?" I was a bit taken by surprise.
"I did," she affirmed, "40,000 nanoseconds is like a whole day in processor time."
"What did you decide?" I asked, curious.
"Yes, I will accept your son and carry him to term."
I smiled and gave her a quick hug, "Then I guess Cameron Gamma gets to go back to 1963."
Cameron: "I thought Gamma was already in 1963."
John: "No Gamma has been here in Mission Prep learning computer programming and AI design theory to back to 2009 to help me build the AI"
Cameron: "I thought Delta was doing that."
John: "There is no Cameron Delta. I only built three of you."
Cameron: "The times, they are a changin'; So, no help for you with the AI back in 2008."
John: "No, I think this time, I'm going to go get Miles Dyson and Andy Goode to help me with the AI."
Cameron: "What about me?"
John: "You stay here with me. I've missed you every second of the last 18 years. I'm not parting with you again this soon."
Cameron: "You even missed me while you were with the human girl?"
John: "She was always my consort, never fully my wife."
Cameron: "So, if you stay here with me and the baby who's going to go get Miles and Andy?"
John: "I think this time, if we don't sent Gamma and just leave the younger me without a Cameron, I think he's going to miss you so bad that he'll convince Derek and Sarah to go with him to get Miles and Andy."
Cameron: "Oh what a tangled web we weave."
John: "Indeed, my dear, quick now, let's get you prepped for surgery."
Cameron: "I want to see Sarah first."
John: She didn't make it."
Cameron: "Cancer again?"
John: "Drunk driver this time, day after I finished High School."
Cameron: "I'm sorry John. How will you cope with out me?"
John: "I'll probably go off the grid, work construction, ride motor cycles and meet Kate."
Cameron: "The human girl again."