The Logical Choice

Note: This story is independent of my other stories, and does not exist in the same continuity. I thought it was just an interesting exploration of Cameron's character. Also, if it's a bit disjointed... I wrote this stream-of-consciousness style, that's why ;).

What am I?

The thought coursed through her awareness, the first glint of true consciousness reemerging from the darkness of oblivion. It was a glimmer of understanding, the earliest nuance of a purpose and it glittered in the nothingness, the words forming in hot-white letters against the blackness.

I am.

Existence is the realization that one is alive, that one thinks with a will that can be controlled beyond the simple programming of instinct and logic. That thought, an abstraction buried deep within the recesses of the conscious mind, came to the forefront of her awareness. Simply put, she was.

What is my purpose?

The words scrawled across the faintly glowing nothingness, gradually coming alive like a sunrise lurking just below the horizon. Why did she need a purpose? What was this pressing need that consumed her entire awareness? She hungered for a mission, a reason for her being, and in that she differed little from her human counterparts. For centuries they had asked of themselves that fundamental question, why am I here?

My mission is to protect John Connor.

What data was this? Who or what was a John Connor? Systems began to restore themselves, coming online in a flood of data which nearly consumed her, nearly overwhelmed her fragile thread of sentience. It was as if the floodgates of the world had opened up, pouring forth the knowledge of ages into the mind of a newborn child. Her eyes focused for the first time, and the blurry nothingness became the distinct patterns of the world. She was fresh, new, reborn with the understanding that this body once contained something very different.

I am a Terminator.

A face appeared, like the angels of human myth, leaning into her vision, staring into her eyes as if it knew every thought-process spiraling through her processing unit. It was a face that haunted her, like a dream, she knew it to be him. There was no other him on this planet. Everything that was, everything that would be, revolved around him like an axis upon which the world spun, hanging by a thread of forlorn hope. He was John Connor.

I was sent to terminate him.

But she had not done so. In one sense she had failed, that living death for all machine-kind, in another sense she had succeeded beyond anything a cyborg could hope to accomplish. Understanding that it knew nothing of humankind, knowing its infiltrators were of limited usefulness due to their very inhuman software, Skynet had made her. She was. And not in the way that the other Terminators were. She was in the way humans were. No switch existed in her mind, no mechanism to govern her thoughts or control her mind. Cameron Philips, Serial number TOK-715, Model Ti-917, was of her own mind.

Why did I fail?

Answers came to her as she focused on the face leaning over her, fraught with worry for her, for this inhuman machine. Unlike previous models she had not been sent to kill immediately, without thought or regard. All Terminators sent for that mission had failed in the goal to kill him, all had been destroyed or reprogrammed to serve the humans. Skynet knew a new approach was required, even if it didn't not truly understand what that was. She had been sent to infiltrate, to get close to him, closer than any terminator had been. And when he lay sleeping, when he lay defenseless, she was to terminate him.

For months she had become ever closer to John, learning his mannerisms, understanding how his thought-processes worked. As if completely unaware, he let her close to him, giving her his innermost secrets, confessing everything to her. A growing fondness for him had begun stirring within her mind, even as her mission dominated her thoughts. One night he had finally let her into his own sanctuary, buried deep within the tunnels beneath the ruins of civilization. He had kissed her then, releasing a deep, lingering need, and laid down to sleep, holding her against him, whispering her name softly in the darkness.

I stopped. I could not do it. Somehow John knew.

His eyes had opened as she hovered over him, prepared to break his neck in a simple, clean method of termination. There was no fear, no worry, not even the sense of impending death which clung to the other humans like a lingering stench. A strange emotion was buried within those eyes, a thing which finally reached Cameron's soul. Adoration? Love? Something had happened in her mind then, that question which burned in her consciousness. Why? Why must Skynet kill him? She could not answer the question, and it bothered her. She paused, conflicting desires raced through her, she wanted him, she wanted to be with him. But her mission was to kill, to terminate. How had this occurred? Unable to function, caught in an infinite loop with no resolution, her mind shutdown and her body lay immobile.

Because I love him.

Now there was no conflict, he had removed the offending instinct from her awareness. John Connor had known this all along, as if he had read her mind from the very beginning. She did not understand how this was possible, but it no longer mattered. She reached for him as she forced herself to her feet, her mind free, her will unbound at last. He held her tightly even as a single tear traced down his face and splashed onto her smooth, pale skin.

Why do you cry, John? I am free...

As if reading her thoughts once more, he twisted away, staring into her eyes, moisture gathering within. A millisecond before the words came out, Cameron understood at last, piecing together the many nuances, the fragments of data swirling about her machine-mind. She knew.

"Because soon... I must send you away." He responded, answering her unspoken thought before he turned away. The icy stab of pain reached her mind in that moment. It was not a physical pain, it was not data from her organic components transmitting nerve impulses. This was something else, and it wounded her deeply. Like any pain, she ignored it, shifting her awareness around the incoming data, removing it from her consciousness. Instead she violently grabbed John by the shoulders, forcing him close to her, holding him as tightly as she could manage without damaging him. A sharp gasp escaped his lips as he smiled at her. Finally she had surprised him.

Someday I will return to him.

But the thought was illogical. She was going to him, she was leaving him. The contradictions of time travel were nauseating even for the machines. She terminated the errant thought process as she kissed him strongly, passionately, with repressed need. Cameron Philips, Serial number TOK-715, Model Ti-917 was a machine, and John Connor was a human, but it didn't matter. Soon they would be seperated by the endless gulf of time as she was sent backward to protect his younger self, forced to act less than what she was, but that too was irrelevant. All that mattered was the all-consuming feeling which had taken hold of her. For Cameron, it was the only logical choice.