A lifetime ago, James Ellison had been a rising star in the FBI. That's why he had been tasked with a two year old manhunt. To close the case and seal the deal. It had changed his life forever.
He still retained every skill, every bit of knowledge, and every habit that he had learned from Quantico and years in the Bureau. He also had a pile of papers that four resistance fighters from the future had compiled and Sarah Connor had taken from their safe. Who else better to check through every lead, every nook and cranny, than him?
James Ellison had taken to the task with relish. Funded by stolen diamonds, it had not been hard to watch and wait and follow. One name appeared on the list twice. A man named Frakes, who had worked for CyberDyne in both incarnations. He now held a patent on a chip designed by the new company for use with the destroyed SkyNet prototype.
The former g-man watched from the porch swing of Thomas Frakes's home as Frakes, a balding, middle aged computer engineer, pulled into the driveway with his high priced luxury sedan. Frakes stepped out of the car and started towards the porch. He was halfway there when he finally noticed Ellison.
"Who the hell are you?"
"My name is James Ellison, Mr. Frakes. How are you this fine day?"
"Do you work for Weaver? I told you before, I'm not selling the patents for anything less than eight figures."
James smiled at the engineer. "No, Mr. Frakes, that's not what I'm here for. You and I need to talk, someplace that your family isn't. They're inside and I've been smelling the best cookies for at least a half hour. Chocolate chip, I think."
"If you have business, Mr. Ellison, you can speak with my lawyer. I don't meet with people at my home." Frakes stepped up to the porch.
"No, Mr. Frakes, I think we have a lot to discuss, you and I." Ellison showed Frakes the gun under his coat then. "Let's go down the street. There's a park there."
"W-what do you want?"
"Just to talk, Mr. Frakes. Just to talk."
"About the patents?"
"No, Mr. Frakes. About the future, and how you can help save your family and the whole world."
Take the pills when they give them to you. Always smile. Never argue or fight with the orderlies; this draws attention. Learn when you can hide and retch up the poison that makes your mind dull. Find the places you can be alone with your thoughts.
These are the rules of Pescadero.
These are the rules that govern Cheri Westin's new life.
She had been so very good according to Dr. Hampton. They were going to let her into the playroom during the afternoon and see how well she interacted with the other patients. If she was good, she could go back. They had a TV. And checkers. And a ping pong table.
You had to sign for paddles and a ball and they always knew where you where when you had them. And you could only play with certain people.
But Cheri did not want to play ping pong. She was not any good at it anyways.
He would be there.
Another patient had told her about a man that knew the ins and outs of Pescadero. She had been waiting for a checkup at the clinic, to make sure she was not trying to hurt herself, and had been chained to a bench next to another woman name Eva. Eva said that this man knew everything about how Pescadero ran to this day. He was able to get around and talk to the other inmates. He had a plan. And an unbelievable story.
Well, unbelievable if you were a sane, rational human being.
Like Cheri. Like Cheri used to be. Seventeen years old and tried as an adult. Little girls who shoot their daddies get tried as adults. The prosecutor had sneered at her as he said it. They had feigned listening to her before she took a trip straight to Pescadero.
Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
Solitude within four walls for too long does things to a person. Messes with your head.
She was out of that cell. She padded down the hallway in her seats, her too large t-shirt, and a pair of slippers with socks that she got to wear outside. The orderlies pushed her into the playroom and told her to mind herself or she would not get to see it again for a while.
Cheri looked around furtively. He had to be in here. He was supposed to be in here every day. Scurrying around the room, she looked at every face, in every eye. She had to slow down and walk at a shuffle when an orderly sauntered past with his stick and his pepper spray and his bad attitude.
He sat in a recliner that faced away from the television. A bible sat in his lap and one hand rest atop of it. Kindness in the form of a caring, gentle smile graced his face as Cheri approached him.
"Hi, m-my name's Cheri." She wiggled her fingers at him in greeting.
"Hello, my dear. You're awfully young to be in here. I hope the orderlies haven't been… unkind… to you."
"No. No. Not… uh… yet. At least. I try to be good."
"Did you need something, my dear?"
Cheri scampered to in front of the old, dumpy recliner that he sat in and knelt down in front of him. "I know who you are. Why you're here."
"You do? And what does that mean to you?"
"I've seen him. Met him. Kissed his lips and killed for him. That's why I'm here."
"Who did you meet?"
"Connor. John Connor."
He inhaled sharply in surprise and his expression fluttered before a broad smile settled on his kindly face. A hand, cupped and gentle, reached out to touch Cheri's cheek.
"Then, my child, you are truly blessed. For you have met our savior," said Peter Silberman.
Five million dollars.
The magic number that would save Cyber Research Systems, Inc from complete and utter insolvency. It, conveniently, was exactly what the bill CyberDyne owed them before going belly up in the wake of the earthquake and terrorist attack on their downtown facility. The earthquake obliterated anything that could have been resold for any real value by CRS and the downtown office building had only been leased, so there was no way to recoup the losses after the lead investor had been shot to death by his own daughter. The other, a James Coleman, seemed to exist only on paper and vanished.
"Who the hell operates in California and doesn't buy earthquake insurance?" Catherine Weaver stared at a mountain of paperwork. Her voice still held a faint tinge of the Scottish accent that 17 years in America had not erased. She had her red hair pulled back in a ponytail and wore a smart white suit that looked far more rumpled than the CEO of a company normally would allow.
If she could afford to pick up her own dry cleaning, she would. Instead, this was one of three suits she still had. Her house was on its third mortgage and the death of the housing market had put her equity so far upside down she feared one of the loans being called in and the house being foreclosed. That third mortgage had let her make payroll this month.
Everyone had gotten paid except her. They would not get paid next month, and then it would be over.
Bill Archer, her CFO, glanced up from one of the accountant rolls he had been helping her peruse. "Complaining about CyberDyne again, Cat? They're done. If wishes were fishes…"
"I bloody well know." She tossed the form across the office in frustration. "We built their entire network infrastructure, designed chips to their specifications that Intel is drooling over, and we're so far in debt we can't take it to market or challenge those bloody gits from their research team that filed patents as soon as the earthquake flattened CyberDyne."
"And AMD and Intel are fighting over who can pick our designs up in a bankruptcy fire sale because they can both crush Frakes like a bug in court." Bill's voice was patient and gentle as he finished the sentence.
"We're working on a pitch to the city to redesign their traffic control system since their home-grown one was a bust. That should net us about ten million."
"Ten to twelve months."
Catherine's head hit the desk with thunking sound. "And we're out of business in one."
A knock on the door preceded the head of Catherine's secretary as she peered into the room. "Miss Weaver? There's a strange package here for you."
"What is it?" Catherine quickly sat back up straight and smoothed out her suit, trying to look businesslike.
"I don't know, ma'am. But it's from CyberDyne."
Catherine and Bill both gave each other a curious expression. After the confusion passed, Catherine waved the secretary in. The thin, older woman carried in a large brown box with UPS logos attached to it. All three cleared away papers and folders so that they could set the box on the clear glass that made up Catherine's desk.
A simple address label held the name of Catherine Weaver on it and the address of the CRS offices. The return showed CyberDyne Systems, Inc with Gerald Metzger's name over it. Date stamps showed it had been sent a considerable amount of time after his disappearance.
"I hope it's full of money. It's the least they owe us." Bill grinned as he pulled a letter opener from off the top of the desk and cut through the tape that held the box shut. They folded back the lid and to see a box full of packing peanuts.
Styrofoam flowed to the floor as Catherine pushed her hands into the box and groped through it for whatever lay inside. Cold metal greeted her fingers and she grasped a large, rectangular object and pulled it up and out of the box.
She held a custom RAID array in her hands. Black aluminum encased it and the disks could be seen through the back. An AC power cable port and USB cable port were underneath where the disks were slotted. The face was fitted with a green power light and a large power switch. Tape held a plain envelope to the top.
Catherine set the device down next to the flat screen monitor on her desk. She peeled the envelope off with the sound of ripping tape. Grabbing the letter opener from Bill, she sliced open the envelope and unfolded the paper within it.
"What is it?" Bill gave her a curious expression.
"It says – With this, all debts are cleared. It is yours." Catherine tossed the letter onto the desk. "Is this some sort of joke?"
"If it is, it's a bad one. I'll take this down to the design boys, see if they have any idea what it is…"
Catherine waved him off. "Just go. Leave me alone for a bit. I need to think about what we're going to do and this has put me off dealing with figures."
She settled down in her comfortable chair. Not even her chair. It was leased, like every stick of furniture in the building and the building itself. Catherine stared at the device and the dimmed green light on the front of the face for a long time before reaching forward a picking it up. A name had been scratched into the metal along the bottom.
It settled back on the desk as Catherine poked around in the box until she found a USB cable and a power cable. She plugged the device into a power outlet under her desk and then hooked the USB cable to her desktop computer.
Disks whirred and the green light flared to life as she switched the power switched. 'New Hardware Detected' blinked the Windows popup as it recognized that something had just been attached. Catherine reached for the mouse as the screen flickered and went blank.
As Catherine Weaver stared at the text that began to flow in front of her, everything she knew changed.
Lightning arched through the desert late at night.
It danced and struck again and again, coalescing into what many might call ball lightning. Cactuses and tumbleweeds scorched and burned with its passing. Power spun and swirled until a tight, reflective ball twisted itself into existence. It flickered then reappeared, so solid that it could be touched if anyone had been close enough to see it.
Perfect squares appeared outlined in the sphere's mirrored skin and vanished one by one as the sphere disintegrated into nothingess. A human figure squatted where the sphere had once been, bare feet and knuckles braced against sand that had been turned to a cracking sheet of glass.
Masculine and powerfully built, it stood without care of its lack of apparel. A gaze framed by a face as empty as a death mask scanned the area and then the horizon, assuring itself that nothing was nearby. It stepped out of the circle of fused sand and strode towards where it knew a road would be.
It stood vigil by the side of the road, watching vehicle after vehicle pass. None stopped for the nude stranger late at night, even if it was a busy freeway. Satisfied with what it saw in one, it stepped forward in front of an oncoming pickup. The driver slammed down on the breaks and the black Chevy truck screeched to a halt inches from the figure's chest.
"What the FUCK are you doing, asshole?" The driver jumped out, tire iron in hand. He was dressed in leathers and heavy boots. A Harley Davidson sat in the truck's bed, partially unassembled.
"I need your truck, your boots, and your clothes." It spoke in a man's voice.
"Huh?" The driver paused briefly while he regarded the broad shouldered figure. "Fuck you. Get off the road before I kick your ass."
It grabbed him by the jaw. Bones cracked as it squeezed and slammed him hard enough into the hood to put a dent the steel. The driver moaned weakly in pain as teeth popped out into his mouth from the unrelenting pressure.
It left the driver there, nude and alone, on the side of the highway with a broken jaw.
The Chevy rumbled down the highway, oblivious to the change in driver. It scanned the bike in the back through the rearview mirror, assessing whether it would make a good backup vehicle, and how long it would take to be repaired. Once it had figured what would be necessary, it reviewed mission parameters.
Tertiary and Secondary objectives were straight forward and easily understand. It knew what to do and how to do it.
The primary was unique in all regards. It paused and reviewed it several times and the material it had been provided. The objective flashed in the machine's HUD over and over again along with a picture.
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: TERMINATE TOK-715 DESIGNATE "CAMERON"
John Connor stood in the empty house that he had lived in for months. Only two other homes had held him longer and those had belonged to Charley Dixon and the Voights. No sign of the Connor's passing and their true nature remained.
Except the two chips that sat on the island in the kitchen. The one Derek had nearly died on. Stains still marked the edge of it, never to come out.
One of those chips had once powered the machine known as Vick Chamberlain. The other had belonged to Jessica Coleman.
"Both of you, I've seen every moment of both of your lives and recorded it all on discs and hard drives." he said to the two platters of silica and gold. "You nearly took away the people I hold dearest to me in the whole world."
He hefted a steel headed mallet in response to their silence.
"I will never let that happen. No matter what it takes."
John slammed the hammer down on Vick's chip, shattering it.
"You will never succeed."
Steel crashed down again, crushing Jessica's chip into dust.
"And I will destroy everything you represent."
Author's Notes: Thank you very much for all those who have reviewed my work. I ask for any final thoughts and summary reviews you might have.
I hope you have enjoyed this work of fiction. It is the longest I have ever written and I feel it's been a great learning experience. I hope that you have all enjoyed this tale I have spun. With the upcoming second season, I don't feel it appropriate to carry on with what will soon be AU storyline for much longer.
There is a final story in 'Season 2' that I will begin working on and will pick up from where I've left off here.
Look forward to EMERGENCE, coming soon.