Chapter 10: Union
Arrowhead was like most other places the Connors had chosen to settle in. Secluded, sheltered, far from the eyes of the law, or anyone else for that matter. The decision of where to move now that their old place in the Calabasas Highlands was no longer secure was the subject of much debate and controversy, all of which was not helped in the least by Cameron's constant insistence for a move to Canada.
However, Sarah maintained that they needed to stick close to the city central and continue their hunt for the infantile Skynet. Though John had pointed out that Skynet was already destroyed, she would not be content until she crushed the computer a second time; before it could commit genocide and reduce humanity to a shadow of its former self.
So it was that she chose the remote wilderness of Arrowhead, remembering the area well from her brief visit to Dr. Silberman's cabin. Though not willing to associate herself with that lunatic (the irony of her opinion not lost on her), she chose a large cabin deep within the woodlands and high hills. No one could find it unless they already knew its location, or had a helicopter handy.
That said, she certainly made sure to test its approachability many times before purchasing the new safe-house.
Several long weeks had passed since the struggle within Serrano Point. None of them had forgotten the trauma they'd suffered, and the wounds that refused to heal. Luckily for them all, the plant had refrained from melting down, sparing them the futility of dying in a radioactive blaze of glory. But even as they settled into their new life, there was a definite sense of uncertainty amongst them.
A secret was being kept, and it was only a matter of time before it came out into the open.
She was a perfect picture of serenity, beauty, and the beaming sun itself.
But watching the cyborg sitting on the bench outside, her eyes turned towards the distant sky, Sarah couldn't help but wonder why Skynet would ever create such a being. To assassinate her son, sure, but why like that? Surely there were others John trusted enough to keep at his side in the future. But maybe there weren't any others. What if she was his only friend among those under his command?
That thought alone brought a great deal of sadness to Sarah's heart.
She knew being the saviour of mankind would be a burden far greater than any she could ever appreciate, but all this time she had taken comfort in the belief that he wouldn't have to share this pain alone. But would sharing it with a machine truly make it any easier? Sarah's left brow twitched as she considered this, for a part of her already knew the answer, but the problem was she didn't like what it told her.
While Sarah watched from the kitchen window, Cameron's attention shot from the sky to the approach of a truck as it pulled into the drive and came to a rumbling stop. She narrowed her eyes at it for a moment before returning her gaze back to the horizon, unconcerned by the arrival. Sarah needn't ask herself who it was, for the heavy footfalls of Derek's approach were all she needed to know it was him.
He shouldered the door open gruffly as he stomped onto the threshold, his muddy boots leaving dark brown marks on the hardwood floor while he dumped a bag full of weapons and munitions on the kitchen table, sparing only the smallest glance at Sarah.
"I guess you've never heard of wiping your feet then", she sniped, inclining her head towards the mud patches on the floor.
Derek regarded them with little concern and simply shrugged in his reply; "You haven't put the rug down yet."
Typical Derek, she mused as her gaze slid over to the rug folded by the bookcase in the dining room. Deciding it would be futile to point out that John was supposed to put it down, she turned her attention to the bag of weaponry he was now unloading onto the table. A typical array of rifles and handguns greeted her as Derek laid each one across the cedar surface, placing a box of ammo next to each one as he systematically popped the cartridges from each and loaded the bullets inside.
"So I take it Jason was compliant then?" she posited, picking up a Glock and checking the chamber for clearance.
Derek tapped the top of a rifle and held it into his shoulder as he aimed down the barrel towards a pile of apples in a dish on the worktop. "He wasn't too pleased about me borrowing his weapons. But Sophie put in a good word. Wasn't all that hard, really", he recalled, placing the rifle back onto the tabletop once satisfied. "Actually, I don't think we'll have to worry about them at all from now on", he added.
"Why? Did you kill 'em?" Sarah chuckled hopefully.
Derek grinned but shook his head dismissively; "Nah, I just don't think we need to worry about them being a threat anymore."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that if I were you. We can't let our guard down for one instant. Not with him", she replied, regarding the Glock carefully while she spoke. Derek simply shrugged and tucked his favourite Beretta in his belt, being sure to thumb the safety on before doing so.
"I guess you're right. Bastard seems to be back to his usual wise-ass self nowadays anyway", he conceded. Sarah allowed herself a small sardonic smile as the possibility of blasting that cocky grin off Jason's face started to greatly appeal. "But he says he's gonna stay in the city and keep his ear to the ground in case Skynet pokes its head out into the open. You never know; he might make himself useful", Derek mused, opening another box of 9mm ammunition.
"Maybe…" Sarah replied distantly as the sound of John thundering down the stairs stole her attention.
He jumped the last two steps and trotted into the kitchen, a noticeable bounce in his step as he approached the gun-laden table.
"You're in a good mood", his mother observed as he admired the arsenal laid out before him. John responded with a smile of content as he looked around the cosy interior of the kitchen.
"Well maybe because I feel good. It's nice not to have any worries for a change", he commented.
"What like the end of the world in a year's time?" she replied, dispelling John's buoyancy for a brief moment.
"Always the optimist, hey Mom?" he countered dryly before opening the front door and stepping outside.
Sarah watched as he walked straight over to the bench and tapped its back, catching Cameron's attention as he told her something with a coy smile. Cameron smiled up at him and tapped the space beside her, inviting him to sit with her. Sarah couldn't bring herself to watch anymore as she was sure it would only upset her further. For the past month she had tried desperately to forget what the cyborg had revealed to her in the power plant.
It didn't make any sense, and Cameron's speculation only worsened her uneasiness with the situation. The question she had asked herself incessantly was how she felt about it all. On the one hand it disgusted her, but on the other it intrigued her somewhat, and what disturbed her more than anything else was the small glimmer of pride she felt. Pride for an abomination spawned from her son and the machine.
Derek threw the last weapon back into the bag and hauled them to the trunk in the lounge, leaving her alone with her thoughts, which unwittingly lingered on the mud stains on the kitchen floor.
Sarah could only sigh.
The sun was warm and soothing to her skin as a gentle breeze blew a strand of hair across her face, tickling her cheeks and nose. She heard him before he arrived, but pretended to feign ignorance until he tapped on the back of the bench. Tearing her eyes away from the blue sky, she regarded him with a soft welcoming smile.
"I suppose this is what you mean by 'feeling what it's like to get away from it all', huh?" he quipped.
Her smile broadened as she placed a hand on the space beside her, shuffling over a little to make room as he sat down and looked out upon the hills in the distance and the low sun setting there. Looking back at Cameron, he found himself comparing her to an angel as the sun illuminated her body. Closer attention alerted him to the pink top she wore, almost identical to the one she donned back in 1997.
Her hair was down just like then too, and her blue jeans were all too similar. John couldn't help but wonder if she had chosen her attire for the purpose of inducing nostalgia into him. Were it the case, he found it to be a very touching gesture of hers. They didn't say anything for some time as they both watched the sun gradually slide behind the hills. It wasn't until a full half had disappeared that Cameron spoke.
"Do you remember your birthday?"
John jumped a little at her voice, for he had become lost in the moment, but smiled and raised an eyebrow upon replaying her words in his head. "My eighteenth? Oh, I remember it quite well", he answered slyly. Cameron did not return his smile, however, and looked past him, her gaze fixed on the setting sun.
"You showed me many things that night. Gave me things I've never…" she trailed off. John waited patiently for her to continue as she stared into the distance blankly, but after a long moment had passed, he took her hand and spoke her name softly. This seemed to shake her out of her reverie as she turned ever so slowly to look at him, her expression unreadable.
She had no idea how to tell him. No clue as to which tack to adopt. So she decided it better to tell him straight. To tell him…
"Yes?" he asked as her fingers closed around his firmly.
"There's something I have to tell you…"
The story will be concluded in Hope… please be patient...