Chapter 07: What You Leave Behind
Lightning… Thunder… White light…
'Is this what it's like to be born?'
The sphere of light dissipated, leaving a naked Jason in the middle of a mountain road, overlooking the "City of Angels". Jason slowly got to his feet, his entire body burned, though he was unhurt. He kept his eyes closed whilst he ran a diagnostic on himself.
Analysing… Time displacement achieved… 0.0 electrical burns… All systems running at full capacity…
Satisfied, Jason opened his eyes and, for the first time in his life, looked upon Los Angeles at its peak. The scene brought tears to his eyes and he wondered why Skynet would ever destroy such magnificence.
'The folly of the machine; rarely can it fully appreciate art and beauty.'
Jason took a few steps forward, his feet touching cold tarmac. A brief scan of the climate told him it was winter and, for his luck, one of the very few winters when it snowed in the city. A light blanket of white covered the metropolis; Jason didn't mind the cold even as it bit into his skin. He revelled in the feeling of life before the war, before his own birth. Before he could fully savour the feeling, however, Jason's legs were swept from under him and his head collided with metal, and all went dark.
The driver slammed on his brakes and skidded a couple of feet before stopping. He got out of his car and angrily inspected the damage, then looked around to see what he'd hit. Expecting to find a deer or a dog, the driver was shocked when he saw the body of a naked man lying in the road and dissolved into panic. What should he do? Call the cops, the ambulance? No, he told himself, the cops will arrest you, get you done for manslaughter. Maybe I should just leave him. No, they'll find him and use their forensic guys to track it back to you… I need to hide him.
The driver grabbed hold of Jason's legs and dragged him to the side of the road. He then retrieved a shovel from his car and proceeded to drag Jason into the woodlands where he chose a spot and started digging. Once he'd dug a fairly deep hole, the driver bent down to pick up the body.
Suddenly, a hand grabbed his throat and the last thing the man heard was the sound of something cracking, before falling into the emptiness of death.
Jason threw the dead driver aside and examined his injuries, which were minor. He looked down at the man and mused that, if he'd called medical assistance instead of trying to bury him, Jason would've spared his life. Jason took the man's clothes and placed his body in the hole meant for him. Once the driver was firmly buried beneath the soil, Jason returned to the road and entered the car. Though he'd driven automobiles in the future, this was a little more complicated, and it took him a few minutes to get used to the stick-shift.
Once he'd figured out how the gears worked, Jason drove into the city and searched for a place to "hang his coat", as John told him. Jason eventually found a small apartment and, despite its Spartan atmosphere, found it to be quite comfortable. He carefully examined his injuries and deduced that he'd need to be more alert and prepared for the unexpected.
"Are you serious?"
"Absolutely, you've earned it."
Jason and John stood in the TDE chamber, watching as the machine whirred into life. The year was 2032, and the war between mankind and the machines had finally come to an end; Skynet was destroyed. All across the planet, every single Terminator had become immobile, no longer possessed by Skynet's will. Reconstruction had already begun; humanity had crawled out from beneath its rock and beheld a future free of war. It was all down to one man: John Connor, and now, at the very end, he decided it was time to make good on a promise he'd made five years ago.
"You're actually sending me back."
"Yes. I promised I would, didn't I?"
"Well, yeah. But I never thought you'd actually hold true to it."
John allowed himself a smile. Jason had been his closest friend for five years and had stuck by his side through the greatest of horrors. It saddened him, to have to send his friend away. But promises were promises, and John would never forgive himself if he didn't keep this one. He held out his hand and Jason shook it, a look of utter disbelief on his face.
"Where and when are you sending me?"
"Los Angeles 2007."
"Where you sent Cameron."
"Yes. But try not to interfere with my young affairs too much. Sometimes less is more."
"If I do encounter her… is there anything you want me to tell her?"
John considered for a moment. There was so much he wanted to tell Cameron, and so much he couldn't.
"Just tell her… tell her to hang in there. You know what I mean."
Jason gave him a small wink before stepping onto the device.
"I'll miss you, old man."
"We'll meet again. Take care of yourself, and watch out for crazy drivers."
A flash of light… and he was gone.
A flash of light… and she had arrived.
Her mission was simple: find Jason and kill the crap out of him, then find John Connor and kill him. Karen would not allow the destruction of her beloved Skynet to happen twice in her lifetime. She would raise the city to the ground before she let that happen.
She scanned the city and wondered where her ex was hiding. Was he with the Connors, or his pet machine? Either way, it wouldn't matter. She'd find him, and she'd kill him. Karen recalled Skynet's last words to her…
'Make me proud.'
…and promised to live up to her creator's expectations.
'How did it come to this?'
A simple question that demanded a complicated answer, perhaps it was his fault, maybe he was the cause of all this. Either way, it didn't matter. Not now that he had a steel pipe running through his stomach.
"You… took it all away. You and Connor… you destroyed… everything that I held dear."
"I guess that makes us even."
Jason was not alone in his pain; Karen was also impaled, not five inches away from him.
Karen had tracked Jason down and chased him across the city, trying in vain to shoot his brains out. Now they were pinned in place, both at death's door, if they were normal humans that is. In truth, they both had a lot of fight left in them, but only one of them had the strength to kill the other. And unfortunately for Karen, it was not her. Jason stroked the side of her cheek with a bloodied hand, one last sign of affection, before using the strength of his endo-arm to snap her neck. It wasn't as violent as he'd expected, just a small click, and she was gone, a small trace of that familiar smile on her lips.
Jason gently kissed her brow and held her limp form close to him, preparing for what he knew would come next. Her body shuddered and suddenly started flailing, trying desperately to claw out his heart. Her cybernetics had reanimated her body to carry out her mission, but such a process was short-lived, and Jason just held her until the implants lost power and her body became limp again.
"Good bye my love, I hope you find the peace Skynet denied you."
Surprising even himself, Jason found a tear fall down his cheek. He'd been so accustomed to burying his feelings in regards to Karen, and was unprepared for the effect that her death would have on him. He silently wept as he realised the magnitude of what lay ahead. If he survives the nuclear apocalypse, he'd have to live through it all again; Judgment Day, the war, Skynet.
Maybe that was what John meant when he said they'd meet again one day. Though Jason doubted it, he was after all, living on borrowed time.
Author's Note: Though I originally planned to write ten chapters for this fan fic, I have since decided to cut it down to seven as my ideas were starting to go stale and were ultimately eclipsed by my enthusiasm to write a sequel for my other fic (Cameron's Redemption). Sorry for having to wrap up the story so abruptly. - Raivon