CHAPTER ONE: Confrontation
John Connor stared at the photo with an expression of deep longing. The photo was of Charley Dixon and his wife, they looked happy, content. John put the photo back on the sideboard and turned his attention to the living room, which was littered with similar happy memories of the past eight years. He wished things were different, he wished him and mom had never abandoned Charley in the past, he wished mom had made him understand then they could've remained a family. If only Cameron hadn't….
No, he told himself. Cameron isn't to blame, she saved my life. It wasn't her idea to jump forward eight years to fight Skynet, she only wanted to protect me from Cromartie.
John snapped out of his reverie, he couldn't allow himself to be distracted. He knew what needed to be done and he would need his wits about him if he was to succeed. Succeed? What are my chances of succeeding?
"2.8 probability of mission success", that's what Cameron would tell him. 2.8. That leaves a 7.2 chance of having my neck snapped, John thought.
Despite himself, John continued to examine the many photographs on the stack of shelves. John was alone in the house, just him and the memories. Charley was nowhere to be found, Good, thought John. It would be hard enough trying to explain why I needed him to take his wife and leave, why he couldn't be around for this. John took a deep breath as the full weight of his task pressed down on him. It needed to be done, he knew this. Only he could bring her back. Only he could reach her. Only he could save her.
A soft creak on the floorboards caused John to freeze. She was here, she'd found him, just as predicted. Though he was glad that his prediction was correct, he could not help but be disappointed that she was subject to predictability, it made her less human. It made her a machine, and that darkened his chances of succeeding. John turned around to see her standing there, still as a statue. Her face was blank with no trace of emotion. Those beautiful brown eyes that once held warmth were now cold and empty.
"I knew you'd come here. Knew you'd use Charley to get to me, to draw me out. But he's not here, it's just me, I saved you the trouble."
Cameron took a step forward, John backed away. He needed space, room to manoeuvre. Unfortunately, manoeuvrability was in short supply in this house. He knew what was coming; he knew it wouldn't be easy…
With one swift movement Cameron grabbed John and sent him crashing through the dining room wall.
…he knew it would be painful. Every bone in his body burned with it, but it would not stop him, it could not stop him. John staggered to his feet, covered head to foot in brick-dust. He spat out a mouthful of blood before reaching into his jacket and taking out a baton. With a slight flick of the wrist the baton extended to 15 inches, causing Cameron to pause for a moment as she analysed the weapon's threat level; Minimal.
"Please, I don't wanna hurt you."
Even as he said this John knew it would not stop her. Cameron came at him like a speeding truck, aiming a punch for his face, which John dodged, much to his surprise. The second punch he deflected with the baton, which bent slightly upon impact. This won't last very long, he thought. John backed up into the living room, he needed space and there was none to be had in the confined dining room.
"Cameron, please. Remember who you are, who I am… What is your mission?"
As if to answer his question; Cameron threw two more earth-shattering punches, both of which John deflected with his baton which was now bent at the middle. One more hit and it'll snap, John thought. Before he could worry about that prospect however, John suddenly realised he couldn't breath, that his stomach felt like it was on fire, and his body was flying across the room. Cameron had surprised him with a kick to the mid-section that sent him smashing into the stack of shelves, destroying several photo albums.
John's vision was blurring, his ears were ringing, and he couldn't summon the energy to stand up. Cameron helped him with the latter by grabbing John by the throat and pinning him against the wall. Her grip was unlike anything he had felt before. John was convinced that his entire head would explode with the pain and pressure. He was dead, he'd failed her, and he'd failed the world. No, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. John reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a tazer which he then jabbed into Cameron's wrist, causing her to let go in shock. John stumbled to the other side of the room as Cameron twitched all over.
Once she'd recovered, Cameron looked back at John with an expression akin to rage and crushed the tazer in her hand. Rage, emotion, she can feel. That explosion hadn't just messed with her chip; it'd jacked up her emotional range too, John thought. Cameron limped towards him, determined to follow her base instinct to eliminate all threats to her existence.
"I… won't… give up… on you."
John's voice was ragged and hoarse, he couldn't last much longer, he could barely stand up straight. Cameron stopped within an inch of him and, with a roar of what John could only identify as hatred, punched him in the face with the full force of a sledge hammer. His entire body went completely numb, he couldn't even feel his left arm dislocating as he smacked into the hard-wood floor ten feet away. Yet he was still conscious as Cameron grabbed the front of his jacket and lifted him off the ground, holding him level with her eyes. She drew her arm back, ready to put her fist through his face. John somehow managed to find his voice in this moment.
"We... were... friends... Cameron... please... Cam!"
Cam! Definition: shortened appellation of the name Cameron. Commonly used amongst friends.
Memory File 14823#5GB……Accessing……
Date: February 6th 2007, Thursday 4.42 PM.
"How do you define love?"
Cameron and John are sitting at the kitchen table in the Connor residence, finishing their Sociology homework. John looks up from his question paper and frowns slightly at Cameron.
"I do not understand this query: How do you define love?"
John looks slightly uncomfortable.
"Uh, that depends. What kind of love does it refer to?"
Cameron scans the question paper, finding nothing specific.
"It doesn't say, it must mean in general."
John shifts uncomfortably in his seat and clears his throat. Cameron can sense that he is nervous.
"Oh, okay. Umm, well; love is... knowing that someone is very special to you and that you'll do anything to see them happy or keep them safe... I think."
Not a clear answer. John doesn't seem to be operating at 100 mental capacity. His cheeks are flushed and his pulse has increased. He is very nervous, Cameron thought. She decides to clarify his response.
"So love is defined by your devotion to a single person."
"I guess you could say that… yeah."
Cameron smiles slightly; John seems relieved at not having to go into detail about this particular subject.
"Thank you for explaining."
John almost says "you're welcome", but instead returns to his homework. Cameron writes John's definition on her paper then pauses before looking at him again.
"I love you."
John looks up, surprised, and then smiles. His pulse has doubled, but his cheeks have not flushed, all evidence points towards excitement… or happiness… or both... Current emotion does not match anything in my records.
"I love you too, Cam."
End of Memory File 14823#5GB
Cameron had phased out for at least 3 minutes, leaving John hanging there waiting for the inevitable. John began contemplating whether to try to loosen her grip on his jacket, but before he could act Cameron suddenly snapped back to the present. Her eyes darted left, right, up, down, all over the place. Whatever was going on inside her chip, it was causing her quite a lot of distress.
(Primary Target: John Connor……….Terminate……….Invalid Command……….Terminate……….Invalid Command……….Primary Mission: Protect John Connor……….Terminate……….Invalid Command……….Programming Clash……….Seeking Alternative Protocol……….Terminate……….Abort……….Alternate Protocol Not Found……….Warning: System Crash Imminent……….Emergency Program Alpha/Omega Activated……….Evaluating Existing Commands……….Mission Objective: None……….Primary Target: None……….Directives: None……….Emergency Audio File 73632#JC Activated: "Hang in there, baby.")
Her voice was soft, barely more than a whisper, but John heard it clear as day. Her face was awash in confusion, but it was the same confusion he had seen many times before… the confusion of a naïve killing machine he'd come to adore.
Her iron grip loosened and John's feet touched the floor, though he knew he wouldn't be able to stay upright for long. Cameron and John stared at each other for a few moments; suddenly Cameron burst into tears and slumped forward into John's shoulder. Her weight proved too much for him to handle, his legs buckled and he dropped to his knees, Cameron still in his arms.
"Please... please forgive me... I'm so sorry John... please forgive me..."
She's back, Cameron's back. John had never felt so much relief in all his life. Judgment Day could rain down upon him and he would not care, not at this moment, not when his beloved friend had returned to him.
"It's okay, everything's gonna be fine. I'm here."
As Cameron poured her metaphorical heart out on John's shoulder, two people armed with a shotgun and a 9mm emerged from the shadows, weapons pointed at the Terminator. It took a moment for Sarah to register what she was seeing; her son was cradling a hysterical machine. Derek was equally shocked, so much that he subconsciously let his pistol drop to the floor, the noise of which alerted John to their presence while Cameron continued to sob on his shoulder.
"It's okay, she's herself again. She's Cameron."
Sarah lowered her shotgun and watched as John placed a tender kiss on Cameron's brow.