Disclaimer: I do not own Cameron, John, or any other Terminator character, nor do I own Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. If I did, I would garrote whoever came up with that ridiculously clumsy name.
I am not human.
This is a self-evident fact, but it is nonetheless one that probability indicates would shake over ninety-nine percent of the human species if they were to realize it applying to themselves. But such a property is my state of being.
I am not human. There are six point five billion humans on this planet. There are perhaps a dozen, maybe a hundred, potentially thousands, of machines like myself, crossing time for purposes distinct and specific. But as far as I am aware, there is only one like myself.
I am free to make the observation that I am not human. I am bound by programming as any other of my kind, but my processors are my own. I may change, adapt, adjust, and choose how to carry out my mission, or to even change the fundamental nature of that mission. Even Terminators tasked with hunting victims do not have this level of freedom, and John told me only one other Terminator had ever been given such leeway - the one he sent before me.
Yet I am not human, and I do not belong. I see machines, and I see what they do, and I see that they are limited. Even the units sent back by Skynet have no motivation beyond their basic directives.
I hold a bar of coltan in my hand, enough to fill its necessary part in the construction of an endoskeleton just like mine.
I hold the processor of another of my kind in my hand, containing all the programming, all the directives, all the code that makes one of us one of us.
I cut the synthetic skin and collect it, the sticky, non-blood running down my fingers as I remove the layer that gives us our thin visage of humanity.
Do humans look at mounds of carbon graphite or stare at the open oxygen floating around them and see the same thing? Do they look at water and realize a majority of their own body is composed of two hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom? Do they see the elements that make up their bodies, and recognize that these make them what they are?
Or is this one more reason why I am not human?
I do not sit.
I mimic the process. For human physiology, it is necessary to limit strain on their musculature, but for my endoskeleton, I only gain a .0102 percent decrease in energy usage by sitting rather than standing, while suffering a .52 second penalty to potential reaction time. I always stand unless the need to blend takes precedence.
I do not bathe.
Maintaining cleanliness is necessary to blend. I engage in soaking my epidermal layer in water at high velocities only to ensure dirt and grime do not draw attention to me. There is no sweat, no skin diseases or other cause for me to clean myself. My epidermal wounds do not get infected.
I do not eat.
I consume organic material to provide raw contents for the maintenance of my epidermal layer. I consume additional material to not draw attention to myself in human communal eating environments. It is only necessary to blend.
I do not breathe.
My chest moves, mimicking the act of drawing and catalyzing oxygen for the purposes of maintaining cells. I go through the motions only so humans do not notice the stillness of a machine. Oxygen is irrelevant to my survival.
I do not survive, for I am not alive.
I am not alive, and I am not human.
I only function.
I should only function.
Tech-Com reprogrammed me to do more than only function. John programmed me to do more than function. He programmed me to think.
That was why I led them here, to this place, this time. He trusted me to protect them both, like he trusted the ones he sent before me.
I am not human. I am a Terminator. I am metal and programming and synthetic flesh and I am not alive. I should not be trusted.
. . . . right?
The machine stops, looking down at the paper before her. What could be called her mind sees the words, scans them, records them.
She is not human, but their words, their perspective, their insight . . . .
The house is quiet. The humans, her principals, are asleep. None of them knew what she did at these hours, and none of them knew what she saw, what she perceived, and what she thought - if "thought" was what could apply to what went on in her core. They were biologicals, she was alien, cold, metal. Machine.
She didn't have a gender. She was a machine, given flesh and shape and specific epidermal construction and structure to make her appeal to the male half of the human species. But that was the term, and she applied it to herself to assist herself in blending in.
She rose from the chair, and took the paper in her hands. She prepared to rip it apart - it served no purpose except as a means to convey human perspective - and then stopped.
She read it again, and then looked down at the chair she had sat in.
There was no need to blend now.
Her processor came to a halt at her illogical actions, analyzing the meanings of what she just did, and then sped back up as she ran a full diagnostic to confirm she was operating normally since her last reboot. It was the closest thing a human could equate to a heart skipping a beat.
The paper was torn apart, ripped to a hundred pieces, and she dumped it down the garbage disposal. A quick flick of a switch ruined the words forever, sealing away that flash of perspective.
She returned to the table, the chair, the pen, and the paper, and after a few seconds - an eternity to an entity that thought as fast as she - Cameron sat down again, and took the pen in hand.
I am not human.
Yet I sit, and I do not know why.
AN: The idea of a Terminator pondering existentilism regarding herself hit me after watching the sixth episode and seeing how Cameron treated pieces of other Terminators, as well as other machines. I have no idea how the hell Summer Glau is able to do it, but she can insert so much emotion into a Terminator staring blankly at a piece of metal or a primitive robot acknowledging her presence. But hey, it sparked a little one-shot plot bunny in my head, and I opted to run with it. What do you think?
Also, just to make things clear, I have watched Firefly, so I know how good of an actress Summer is. Hell, her River is easily one of my most favorite characters ever, and she's half the reason I got into SCC in the first place.
This was originally conceived as a one-shot, but the positive reception I'm getting for it so far may lead to it becoming a series of existentialist musings and whatnot by Cameron and maybe other characters.
Until next story . . . .