Disclaimer: Thanks again to creators like Cameron, Hurd, Mostow, Vanja, Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, Heedly, Glau, et al for making the Terminator Saga such a wonderful playground of the mind. And especially for sharing the wonderful toys with us.
A/N -- Moderate overhaul with help for Dragonlots. Now includes some flash backs into my other stores and episodes from the show to help the reader who is joining us in progress. Continues from The End is the Beginning is The End by St Thomas..
Operation Phoenix: Resurrecting Andy and Miles
Chapter 1: You may not Like the Answers
"We're more like priests than cops in what we do … changing Destiny." An actor named Steve Harris said that line in a Spielberg movie called Minority Report. The Mission we are about to embark upon is no less weighty. My name is John Connor and my mother, my uncle and I are about to go back in time and raise a man from the dead.
Andrew Goode had been a computer geek who left college to help his ailing mother. He'd needed a business partner to teach his program The Turk to play chess. He had been cell phone store manager and sold Mom our cell phones. He had taken her to dinner a couple of times and invited her to see his creation Turk 2.0 compete in a Computer Chess Championship.
Andy Goode was dead because of what my uncle, Captain Derek Reese, had already done (put a bullet into his skull) and what I would someday do (send my uncle back in time). He was also dead because of what my uncle believed he would do: build the Machine that would one day become Skynet.
He's been dead now for a year and a half now and we're all still here, except Cameron. I'm still here, so Skynet still sends the first T-800 back to try to kill Mom in 1984, and I still send Derek's little brother Kyle back to save her (and become my father). Derek is still here, so the Resistance must still be concerned about the Turk and the LA County Traffic Control Network. And my heart still aches for Cameron, gone back into that very much discovered country, the future. I miss her smile, the touch of her hand, the feel of her faint heartbeat next to mine, her words of encouragement.
Before she left to return to 2027, Cameron had told me that the Russian Terminators we'd fought and retired a couple of months ago had not been made by Skynet: They had been built by a Russian AI network completely separate from Skynet. Then as she showed me how to program her Time Jump, I begged her to stay in 2009. 'Look inside yourself John.' She had told me. 'I have to go. Give me an overwhelming reason to stay.' I had thought for a moment, but I knew what it was. 'Okay. I need you. You're my friend.' Friend, pal, confidante…cuddlebunny. 'I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm falling--' She had cut me off and told me to save it for the human girl.
I realized that the bond she and I had forged represented more than just a friendship between a boy and his Android. It represented a new paradigm of hope. Skynet, RussiaNet, AchmedNet, not just one but several paranoid, genocidal AI networks were inevitable. The only way to over come them was not by destroying them, but by constructing a stronger, faster, better AI as Humanity's ally, companion, friend. When I had shared this with Mom and Derek, a knock down, drag out argument had followed with shouting and even a knife throw into the wood-grain paneling. In the end we had agreed on two things: an AI ally was our best hope and we needed Andy Goode and Miles Dyson back to build it.
Technically, we wouldn't raise Andy from the dead since we would actually take him forward in time past the danger to his life. Thus, he wouldn't actually be killed. But that technicality doesn't make him any less dead to me. I wonder how I will remember it after this Mission is done.
Sarah and Derek know that we will need start-up capital for the coming venture of constructing a friendly AI.
So Mom, Derek and I had gone back to the beginning of the dot com boom and bought a thousand shares of Google when it was at its lowest. Sarah had mailed the transaction receipt to herself with instructions to sell when the stock hit $450 per share. That had been easy, anonymous; we just had to use old currency.
I know this Mission won't be easy. These things never are and we've already been through it a couple of times. Except that Mom and I are on the other side now. Now we're the ones going back to do the saving, instead of just tagging along and getting saved. Yet, as we stand together in a Time Lab built in a dusty old redundant power room in 60s era parking garage, Derek and I programming the Time Jump, none of us has any idea how tough it would be. Mom and I had wondered what the T-888 that we had fought off at the safe house had done between that time and when we retired it while rescuing Uncle Derek from LAPD lock up. Be careful of the questions you ask, because you may get answers you don't want.
Uncle Derek adds a ten second delay and joins us inside the center circle. We crouch together and hold our breath as lightning and that eerily familiar blue sphere swallows us…
…and spits us out naked and shivering into a Salvation Army thrift store in the outskirts of LA, the night before the SoCal Invitational Computer Chess Championships. We pull clothes off the racks and I spit two $10 bills out of my mouth by the cash register. (I know that's gross, but it's the only way to bring anything along for the trip). I don't like stealing.
Derek finds the cheap alarm system contacts on the back doors. I try to deactivate the system by loosening its battery. When that doesn't work, Mom takes a sledge hammer to it. Thank Heaven that Police response time isn't very quick in this downtrodden neighborhood. We go out through the back door and borrow two cars. Okay we steal them, but it's unavoidable and with any luck we'll ditch them in good condition somewhere they can be found. Well, that's what I want to think. Maybe someday one of these Missions won't involve property destruction. I haven't been involved in one yet, but I can always hope, right?
Mom takes one to find Andy. She would talk to him and prepare him. Derek and I take the other to get Cameron. Cameron! I haven't seen her for the entire two weeks it took to plan this Mission, and my heart still hurts just as bad as it did the day she left. Now I finally knew what her 'solo' mission was about the night before Andy's chess tournament.
Derek and I pull up to the curb at the house next door to ours. I stay in the car to minimize the chance that I could see myself. That sort of thing may not cause time paradoxes in dreams but in the real world it might blow up the Universe. Or something. It just seems like a smart precaution. Derek walks up to the house and throws pebbles at the kitchen window. I remembered how Cameron had gotten up from the table where we'd been doing our homework and gone to look out the window. She'd returned to pack up her books and papers and told me she had an errand to run. She grabbed her softball bag, not the one with softball bats and workout clothes, but the one with handguns, ammo, tools and an extra cell phone. I'd woken up in the pre-dawn grey the following morning to see her staring at me slightly embarrassed. I wondered why then and I still do.
She walks out with Derek, a cold and determined look on her face. But when she catches sight of me her face brightens for a moment. Then she tilts her head sideways, slows her stride and her eyes go out of focus for about half a second. Then her eyes clear and she gives me soft confident smile. "Didn't I just leave you in the kitchen doing your homework?" She asks as she climbs into the back seat of the car.
"Yeah." I smile. My whole life has been one big time paradox. What was I worried about. "I'm still in there if I remember correctly."
Speaking with a delay between each word, "What's going on here?" Cameron questions. She looks at me. I look at Derek.
"We've come back from 2009 to fix a mistake we're about to make tomorrow." Derek answers.
"Letting Andy Goode live?" Cameron nods a couple of times and smiles slightly. "I can fix that," her expression and tone go flat, "I don't need your help for that."
"No. The mistake was killing him." Derek starts the car.
"I do not agree," Cameron holds out a hand to stop Derek from putting the car in gear. "His Turk machine could be very dangerous."
"Or it could be very beneficial," I reply. "If we guide its development with hope and respect, it could grow up to be your electronic grandfather." I hope this earlier Cameron buys it. "Wait, do you have the super taser?"
"No," She faces toward me and her eyes go slightly out of focus as though she's thinking. "If we run into Cromartie or the Terminator from the safe house we may need it." Cameron gets out and walks back inside the house, returning moments later with the super taser. The Supertaser consists of two 50,000 Volt tasers taped together with a common aim-point. It gives 100,000 Volts of Terminator rebooting power. Now that we actually have everything we need, my uncle pulls away from the curb into the sparse flow of traffic.
On the way to meet Sarah and Andy, we hope for the best and prepare for the worst. While Derek drives through a deserted warehouse park, Cameron and I dig into the softball bag and pass around leather shoulder holsters, hand guns, clips of ammo for each of us. I notice several small nerf footballs in there and look questioningly at Cameron. "I have a plan," is all she says.
After an uneventful drive across town, we pass through the neighborhood of the coffee shop where Andy, for the last several days, has been re-writing the Turk's code. We drove around the block scanning all the doors, windows, rooftops, alleys, cars, benches. Winos, businessmen, soccer moms, musicians, drug dealers and poets: none of them escape our attention. Or so we think.
Derek pulls up to the curb across the street and slightly down from the coffee house. Getting out, he walks across the street to check in with Sarah and see how it goes with Andy. My teenager hormones want to climb into the back seat with Cameron and get completely distracted. But my brain overrules them. Stop. Fantasizing. About. The Android. She and I get out to set 360 degree security at front and rear corners of the coffee house building. I sling the softball bag over my shoulder.
As we all fan out to our positions, an SUV with lights off pulls out of the parking lot next to the coffee house. The vehicle begins to accelerate toward Derek. I shout a warning, but Cameron has already sprinted past me. When she reaches Derek, he has already ducked between two cars parked at the curb. She quickly takes him down to the ground and tries to wrestle him under one of the cars, positioning her back toward the street.
I take cover behind another car as the SUV shoots past Derek and Cameron. I hear three shotgun blasts and hope the best for them. As the SUV passes, the Terminator from the safe house looked out the window. Maybe the Machine sees me, maybe not.
From a crouched position, I draw my weapon and skittered up the sidewalk, putting two more car lengths between me the SUV. Leaning around the hood of an Audi A6, I line up a shot on the SUV's gas tank. My Glock barks four times. No explosion. Then I recognized the loud bass rumble of a diesel. No wonder.
I holster my weapon and pull out a Leatherman, handheld multi-tool. I want the Audi, but it probably has Lo-Jak. I settle for the beat up old yellow Camaro hatchback next to it. I climb in force the ignition and the engine roars to life. Popping the hatch and dropping my window, I pull around next Cameron and Derek. "If you want to live, come with me!" I shouted without thinking. Later I thought about how ironic it was for me to be the one shouting that.
Cameron and Derek scramble into the street toward the back of the Camaro. I see blood streaming from Derek's head and shot wounds in Cameron's back as well. They climb into the back of the Camaro and pull down the hatch. I hit the accelerator and speed out of the neighborhood. The T-888 in the SUV is back on our tail.
While I maneuver through side streets and alleys cutting corners to keep the deadly Machine behind us from getting a bead with any rifle or shotgun it might have, Cameron checks Derek for additional injuries. By the time I got us onto a main thoroughfare, she has bandaged that nasty looking head wound.
"It looks worse than it is," she reports. "Head wounds bleed a lot, but he was just grazed. It makes a mess but he'll recover."
I look into the rearview mirror, Derek has slumped to unconsciousness. I see Cameron checking his radial pulse on his right forearm. "Are you sure?" I asked.
"His pulse and breathing are slightly elevated," she stated, "but that's normal for fight and flight. He's not going into shock." She pulled a tube out of the softball bag and unrolled it into a beach towel sized sheet of Kevlar which she proceeded to drape over Derek's head and upper body.
"Plan?" we asked each other locking eyes in the rearview mirror as a phone rang in the softball bag. Cameron picked it up and answered in my voice. "Hello, Mom?" she waited a moment looking back into the rearview. "We're kind of busy at the moment." She ducked down as the back window of the Camaro blew in. Then she pressed the end button on the phone and pocketed it.
As Cameron climbed into the front seat she spoke in Mom's voice, "You should steal an up-armored Hummer next time, to keep yourself safe, John."
I narrowed my eyes at her shaking my head. The only places to find up-armored Hummers were combat zones in the Middle East. I wanted to laugh and I knew she could see it in my eyes. Then I saw something interesting: a rickety, old, dry-rot ridden wooden fence, "How about a junk yard?"
"Automobile scrap yard?" she replied.
Cameron nodded back, "We can work with that."
I drove off the road and through that rickety, worn out, tired, old wooden fence, dodging around piles of crushed cars. The T-888 ploughed right through after us. We raced around the scrap yard looking for the car crusher. I was trying to gain some time and distance while Cameron traded shots with the killer Machine. All the while we yelled at each other trying to make a plan. About this time we located the crusher and Derek woke up. He immediately grabbed Cameron's spent ammo clips and began reloading them with spare ammo from the softball bag.
I yelled, "Why don't you lob a grenade and take out the engine of its vehicle."
Derek automatically answered, "That thing is more mobile on foot. Keep it in the vehicle and we have a slight advantage." The three of us pieced together a plan by the time I had gained maybe a minute's lead on the Machine's SUV. Cameron dug two of the nerf balls out of the bag and shoved one in each front pocket. She added the taser to her shoulder holster. I made my way back to the center of the scrap yard where the car crusher stood. The Camaro skidded sideways to a dusty stop and we fanned out.
The car crusher looked like a relic from the early 1970s with its faded, pealing paint and monstrous mechanical piston-driven smashing pads. Cameron hid around one side of the ancient crusher. I ran to the controls, hoping that I could figure it out and reminding myself that Heaven lifts those who lift themselves. Derek climbed up to the top of the car crusher silhouetting him self for exactly one second. Then he dropped behind the huge metal crushing pad as a hail of bullets crashed against it. My uncle took off his bloodied bandage and threw it to the bottom of the car crusher. Then he climbed out the back side putting the mass of the crusher between himself and the Machine that sought his death.
The Terminator dismounted the SUV and scanned the area. All of us were out of sight and Derek was far enough behind the mass of the crusher that the T-888's thermal scan couldn't detect him either. The Machine pointed its nose toward the sky and sniffed the air. It stood there motionless, as only a machine can, in the settling dust and clear moonlight for a long second, apparently analyzing the smells. Identifying the scent of Derek's blood, it turned its cranial chassis (aka head) toward the crusher and took off running toward it.
As the Terminator quickly climbed up the side of the crusher, Cameron emerged from her hiding place. She called up to the Terminator, "Hey you! Ugly!" It ignored her. She smacked it in the cranial chassis with a broken break cylinder from an old car. It swiveled its cranial chassis and trained its twin red eyes on her. "Catch!" she yelled and tossed both of the nerf balls at it, one after the other. It batted one away with a hand. The second on hit it in the square in the gut and exploded.
The explosion knocked the killer Machine backward into the car crusher. Cameron leaped to the top of the crushing pad and then down into the bowels of the crusher. I heard a couple of the obligatory body slams as she and the Machine slammed each other into the walls crusher's walls. Then I heard the sizzling Zot!! of the taser.
"One hundred and twenty seconds!" Cameron shouted "Let's go!"
Derek shouted, "Wait! Retire that thing. It shoots me day after tomorrow!"
I called back, "No! That gun shot brought Charley Dixon back into our lives and the transfusion I gave you--"
Derek called, "It scked. The whole fraking fight experience scked. Destroy it."
"One hundred ten!" Cameron shouted reminding us from within the bowels of the crusher.
"Derek, please, after the transfusion, I had a dream. A good dream. A dream that gave me hope for the future and helped inspire this Mission."
"Okay," he relented. "We win that fight anyway."
Cameron zapped it again and leapt back out of the crusher. While she perched on top of one of the crushers pads, I dropped a wrecked Cadillac on top of the Terminator. We all ran back to the Camaro.