Title: Paradigm Shift

Author: C. Isaac

Character/Pairing: Various ensemble (Ellison, Dixon, Sarah, John, and Cameron included. Derek mentioned.)

Rating: T for Teen

Warnings: This mentions events all the way through 1x09 "What He Beheld"

Summary: This is about the events immediately transpiring from the end of the season finale, and how I think they could possibly continue.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything involved with Terminator or the Sarah Connor Chronicles. All rights belong to their respective owners, and I am making no profit from this.

Author Notes: Ok, please don't shoot me, but this is my first attempt at fan fiction for anything really. I've written short stories before for other things, but Terminator has just been pounding within my head so much lately, I had to let it out.

"Th-they're all dead."

Ellison ignored the paramedic – Dixon – as he had walked from body to body, checking to see if there was any hope for the fallen agents. Ellison had not bothered, as he had seen how they had died, and knew them to all be gone. He sat on the cool concrete near the bloodied pool, Greta Simpson's head cradled in his lap.

She could have been asleep if not for the small, bloody hole in her left cheek. The warm moistness against Ellison's knee told him it had been a through and through, exiting from the back of her skull. He whispered to her, "I'm sorry, Greta. I should have known – I did know – but I couldn't believe."

"Didn't you hear me, Ellison?" asked Dixon, yelling over the sound of rapidly approaching sirens.

"I heard you, Mr. Dixon," remarked Ellison with at much composure as he could muster, "but I already knew they were."

Dixon pulled off the rubber gloves he had donned before checking the agents, revealing only then that his hands were shaking rapidly, "It was Kester, wasn't it?"

"Yes." The response was terse, as Ellison was looking down at Greta's face once more. Sorrow filled his features, eyes haunted and watery.

"H-how could… he… how…" Dixon was searching for words that did not seem to want to come, trying to form a question for which he already knew the answer. Dixon knew that Kester had been 'off' when they met. Like the thing that lived with the Connors.

"I have seen the Harbinger of the Apocalypse, Mr. Dixon," stated Ellison with a slow, steady cadence. "It walks amongst us cloaked in flesh, but with bones of steel forged by hate and evil."

Dixon watched as Ellison lowered Greta's head to the concrete and then stood up, "Mr. Dixon, I thought I knew evil. I have seen the worst in men, and I have long used the Book to strengthen me against temptation. What I saw today was a level of uncaring malice that…" he paused, searching, "…defies belief."

Dixon rubbed the back of his neck with one hand, "Agent, I'm…" and the rest of his statement was drowned out by the sound of numerous LAPD officers swarming into the scene, guns drawn.

Ellison leaned in close to Dixon, whispering fiercely, "I want the truth from you next time, Mr. Dixon. All of it," before turning and holding his badge high above his head for the incoming police officers.

The explosion caused the house to rattle as if a small earthquake had struck the neighborhood. The sound of fire and car alarms could be heard even in John's room, where he had been with Sarah, talking about going out to eat for his birthday.

Sarah hurried to the window, one hand pressed to the sill and the other shielding her eyes from the sun as she peered out into the street. "John, get the fire extinguisher. Quickly."

"Mom, what's going on?" asked John, confusion evident in his voice, "Was that an explosion?"

"Yes," came the reply as Sarah started out of John's room and headed for her own. She called back over her shoulder, "Hurry, John!"

John jumped up from his desk and headed into the laundry utility room, grabbing the fire extinguisher that had been stored next to the washing machine. He pulled safety rings and tabs off it as he hurdled furniture, and then raced out to the front lawn. He skidded to a halt just outside the door, still on the porch, as he beheld what had caused the explosion.

The Jeep Wrangler was engulfed in flames, dark smoke and the stench of burning rubber pouring off it in thick waves. There were flaming pieces of debris embedded into nearby cars, the pavement, and laying all about the lawn. Movement within the smoky interior of Jeep prompted his feet into moving once more and he dodged burning piles of steel and rubber as he closed with the Jeep.

Sarah came out of the front door just after John, a pistol from her room held behind her back in her right hand. She scanned the street, looking to see if this was the prelude for a full out attack, only to see neighbors staring in shock at the scene. Several, she could see, held cell phones to their ears, presumably calling emergency services.

Her eyes were drawn back to the Jeep, watching a humanoid body wreathed in flames emerge from the wreckage. She felt her heart drop down into her stomach, as her mind shifted to images of another Terminator pulling itself from the wreckage of a flaming truck.

they don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, Kyle had said.

John screamed Cameron's name, then began spraying the cyborg with the fire extinguisher. Sarah could already see the gleam of chrome and metal from where she stood, revealed by the force of the explosion and the fire burning Cameron down to her endoskeleton. John continued to spray Cameron with the fire extinguisher, body language showing that he was near panicking.

Meanwhile, Sarah remained stock still on the walkway up the lawn. It took everything she could muster not to pull the gun from behind her back and start emptying the clip into Cameron. No, the thing, not 'Cameron', she corrected herself mentally.

The flames surrounding Cameron were out and she rose to her feet. The same gait was there, but what Sarah recognized from before was no longer the same. The left hand and forearm were bare of flesh, showing the metal endoskeleton, as was the lower left half of the face. There were numerous rents along her torso and legs that showed half cooked flesh and bare metal. Cameron's hair had been burned down close to her scalp, and the flesh that remained was singed red or blackened almost everywhere.

The sheer wrongness of what Cameron was struck Sarah then, harder than it had before, now that she could see the dichotomy so clearly. Half of a leering smile peeked out from underneath the flesh mask of Cameron's face, while the rest was a reddened, emotionless mask. The terminator had easily survived what would have slain a human.

and they absolutely will not stop until you are dead! Kyle had said.

The gun came out, pointing at Cameron, and Sarah's whole arm shook with the desire to fire the weapon. For that single moment, she wanted nothing more than for Cameron to have been destroyed utterly in the explosion. She could feel tears welling in her eyes from the frustration, gritting her teeth as she tried to will them away.

I know why you cry, the badly damaged terminator John called 'Uncle Bob' had said, as it wiped away John's tears.


John's voice brought her back to the present, the worry and uncertainty was plainly heard. She blinked to clear her vision as she quickly slid her pistol into the back of her belt, "Yes, sorry… I wasn't sure if I saw something," she lied.

The terminator approached, "We need to leave. Emergency services will arrive soon, and we should not be here." The feminine voice was incongruous coming from the ruined lower portion of its face. It had pulled what was left of its coat over its head and had the fleshless hand cradled close to its chest, where it could not be seen.

"Yes. You're right," Sarah admitted, "John, get the money and as many clothes as you can grab, and get in the Mercedes." She turned to Cameron, "You… grab some heavy, concealing clothes. Hurry, both of you."

She heard John swear under his breath, but he could not argue this time. This had been too high profile. This would get them on the radar. Sarah could hear the sirens in the distance already, and she had no idea how many of the neighbors had seen chrome underneath Cameron's skin.

She ran back to her room, stuffing a bag full of clothes, her identification papers, and then pulling the trunk of weaponry out from under her bed. Sarah hefted her bags, then quickly made her way to the car. The sound of approaching sirens were like a clock ticking in the back of her head. They were very close.

John was throwing bags into the trunk. He took the large suitcase full of weaponry from his mother, then stuffed it in, kicking it once to make sure it was all the way into the back. "Do you know where Derek is?" Sarah asked as she added her own bag of clothing to the gear in the trunk.

"Yeah, I can show you how to get there so we can pick him up," said John as he slammed the trunk down. "Where's Cameron?"

The both of them looked around, then finally John responded to his own question, "I thought she was right beh…"

The sound of the side door to the garage opening cut John off. Cameron stepped in, then remarked, "We can go now," as she closed the door behind her. She was covered in an oversized trench coat that belonged to Derek, with freshly donned pants, boots, and gloves covering most of her. There was a black bandanna wrapped around her neck and it had been pulled up over her lower face, up to the bridge of her nose. She had a hooded sweatshirt on under the trench, and the hood was pulled up and over her now much shorter hair.

Sarah smirked, "I'm glad that we have your approval to leave now, Tin Miss."

Cameron cocked her head, retaining her mannerisms even in her new state, "Why were you awaiting my approval to leave?"

John snorted, then stated simply, "Sarcasm, Cam."

"Oh. Thank you for explaining," came the familiar response.

By the time the car was moving, Sarah could see flashes of red and blue in the rear view mirror. She sped briefly, knowing that nearby police would be responding to the explosion and not writing tickets. She adjusted the mirror to look into the backseat, where Cameron was sitting, and noticed that she was holding a clear CD case in one hand. There was a CD inside and the label was facing the front.

She could make out the word 'Chopin' on it.

How odd, was all she could think before having to put her eyes back on the road.

Sleep would not come for James Ellison. He had dozed fitfully on and off through the night, tossing and turning in his bed. Each time sleep threatened to fully engulf him, he could only see Kester. As sleep deepened, he would see what had happened that day once more, then start awake, reaching for the sidearm that was no longer there.

It had taken ten minutes for the field supervisor to ask for Ellison's badge and gun after getting to the scene. It was possibly the worst massacre of federal law enforcement personnel since Waco, and the worst day in law enforcement since 9/11. There were fourteen dead FBI agents, good men and women each, and all of them weighed heavily on Ellison.

He sat up in bed, sheets a haphazard pile around him. One hand absently rubbed over his bare scalp as he reached for his alarm clock and held it up, looking at the bright green display.

3:32 AM

The first of many such nights, James, he thought to himself, and then turned to put his feet on the carpeted floor. Deciding that tonight's sleep was done for the moment, he opened his top dresser drawer, selecting a dull grey t-shirt with the FBI logo and similarly colored sweatpants. He pulled them both on over the boxers he'd been wearing.

Maybe I can get the Connor files together. So I don't have to chase them down when they come to pick them up tomo--, his thoughts paused, then continued as he corrected himself, -- today.

Ellison padded over to his bedroom door, and then gripped the doorknob. As he prepared to open it, he stopped, tilting his head closer to the space between the frame and the door itself. He could make out the sound of movement and papers rustling. A louder sound suddenly came, that of plastic clacking together. Ellison identified it as video tapes clattering against each other.

He looked to where light from the clear night sky illuminated his empty gun holster that hung near his bed, useless to him now. He released the doorknob and stepped over to his closet. He opened the closet door as quietly as possible, and then reached for the baseball bat that was propped against the wall.

With the baseball bat gripped in one hand, Ellison picked up the phone on his nightstand. He dialed a number, waited for the operator answer, then whispered, "This is FBI Special Agent James Ellison. I have an intruder in my home." He gave the address, then tossed the phone on the bed, leaving the line open.

He stepped back to the door, body tense, and the baseball bat held up at head level. He turned the knob slowly, in an attempt to prevent any sound from being made, and then opened the door. He swore he could hear it creaking the entire time it swung, regardless of how silent and quick the process was.

Ellison stepped from his room and out into the living area of the home. A figure was kneeling in front of the television, sorting through papers, selecting some, and then putting them into a white box full of video cassettes. The figure was large, masculine, and appeared to be clothed in deep black.

"Hey!" shouted Ellison as he reached for a light switch.

The figure did not jump or start, as most people would at being discovered, but simply looked up at Ellison. The lights from the ceiling fan illuminated a familiar figure, and Ellison could feel terror welling up inside of him. The urge to flee screamed in the back of his brain, and he fought hard to keep control of panicked terror.

The machine that had been masquerading as Robert Kester was kneeling on Ellison's floor, collecting the case files of Sarah Connor. The white box had 'EVIDENCE' written across it in huge block letters, and was full of the Pescadero hospital video tapes. Numerous file folders and papers had been stuffed in next to them, appearing to be almost everything Ellison had on Connor.

Kester looked almost the same as he had that morning, even down to wearing the same black clothing. He had added gloves, a heavy coat, and a baseball cap though. The damage to the skin on of his face was concealed by heavy bandages that covered the places where chrome and metal had been revealed earlier.

"FBI Agent James Ellison," intoned Kester, almost by way of greeting. Kester stood, hoisting the box of evidence as he did. "Is this all the evidence you have gathered on the Sarah Connor case?" The voice was emotionless, detached, and utterly cold.

Ellison was dumbfounded, bat lowering as he stared at Kester. The fact that this thing was in his home baffled him almost as much as the fact that it was now talking to him. He shivered, suddenly chilled to the bone.

Kester stared at him blankly, patiently waiting for a response to the question posed. After what seemed to be an eternity, Kester started to advance towards Ellison, intoning, "Agent Ellison, I require an answer to my inquiry. Do you have further information concerning Sarah Connor or her current whereabouts?"

Ellison backpedaled, revulsion sending him into motion. "N-no!" He repeated himself when Kester did not stop moving, "No! You got it all. I left it all out here on the desk and in that box." He held the bat out in front of him, "Stay away from me."

That's when Kester smiled. It was a calculating thing, devoid of anything approaching emotion. Everything in Ellison's psyche screamed out against what he saw, though the only description that came to mind to describe it was simply the word 'wrong'.

"Thank you for your cooperation," Kester mouthed in monotone. Its movements were casual and methodical as it pulled a pistol from its coat with one hand, the evidence box under the other. Ellison turned on his heel and fled back towards his room, head ducked low as he heard the sound of the first gunshot. It echoed through the house, as did the sound of plaster exploding from the wall.

Ellison was back through his door at a dead sprint, holes exploding behind him in the wall. He leapt for the window, a desperation move, and braced as he impacted against wood and glass. Thankfully, it shattered outward and spilled him into his backyard. He staggered as he rolled back up to his feet, looking down to find a long gash along his left thigh where the glass had not completely shattered.

He could see Kester at the window, and the slide of the gun hammered backwards again, the night filling with gunshots as Ellison raced towards his neighbor's fence. He vaulted it, catching his foot on the top edge and spilling onto the ground. The wood just above his head exploded as another bullet nearly found him. Ellison yelped in pain as splinters drove themselves into his face and shoulder.

He gasped for breath, while terror crept into his limbs and made it impossible to move. His entire body was sore, while the pain in his leg and his face was bordering on excruciating. He heard the sound of booted feet landing on broken glass, then crunching as Kester moved to pursue.

Ellison could then make out the sound of a magazine being released. It's reloading, Ellison thought to himself, So move your ass, James! Ellison pushed his way to his feet, sprinting through his neighbor's chrysanthemums. He jumped another fence, then another, losing himself quickly amongst the maze of Los Angeles suburbia.

Ellison did not know how long he had been running, or when the pursuit had stopped, but it must have because Kester was nowhere to be seen, and he was easily several blocks away from his home now. He found himself against the back of a shed in someone's backyard. His leg was burning with agony, and he did not think he could continue. He let himself slip to the ground, his entire body shaking as the adrenaline began to wear off.

Sirens were echoing in the background, in the direction of his home. Ellison did not move from where he sat, but pulled a strip of fabric from his shirt and began to bandage his leg. As he sat, working on staunching the blood flow, the words of Sarah Connor, seen on one of her tapes, came back to him. They are made to do one perfect thing, she had said, to kill you. They will not stop until you are dead.