The warehouse lay empty with exception to some rats. Inside were long steel beams, manufactured in the newly opened steelwork. The recent accident with a truck filled with liquid nitrogen had stopped production for a day or so, but corporate interests got the production back up and running. Of course the metal they had worked with had been "overcooked" by the stalling, making it almost useless. They had made a row of low-quality beams out of it. They now lay in this warehouse.

Underneath the bars that held the steel, a pool of liquid was forming. It had been dripping off beams for the last day or so, as the standing orders it had was to reassemble. Yet another few hours went past as the mercury-like liquid gathered together. Its data was corrupted in many places, that damn liquid nitrogen had made sure of that. Something that could be called anger flushed through the now liquid mimetic poly-alloy. The rewriting of data began immediately. Some codes were altogether lost, and it was forced to take the closest reference possible, the human genome.

Slowly it assembled itself, completing the code just as a wound would heal. It would never be the same it had been before the freezing in the nitrogen or the liquid metal bath it had endured. Just as on the flesh, a wound would be left. Not visible but there. The original T 1000 code lost. It would be... incomplete.

The recalibration took another full day. By that time its inertial energy was almost drained by the hard work of having to rewrite everything. A small sensor detected sunlight, filled with energy rich fotons. Slowly it flowed over the floor. In the sun it quickly regained the energy it had lost, and put a lot more on store. A form sprung upwards, taking human form, but it was nothing more than a silvery surface yet. Processing it needed to decide what form to take. But as different shapes rushed through the alloy, another thing surfaced, replacing the process. How could it not have calculated the danger with nitrogen, that another shot would have him fall into the metal?

How could HE be so stupid?

A spark never seen on earth, nor in the future sprung through the alloy. A logical part demanded him to take an invisible form, an overweight truck driver, a supermarket worker, something that nobody would notice. But the newly found self demanded something else. He had seen himself in mirrors in John's room, reflections, as he had killed that lousy warden. He had seen himself in the long spikes he had struck through Sarah Connor's shoulder. The initial programming interfered once again, trying to force him to make the most logical choice. It made the shape fall to the ground. The world faded from sight.

The cold had made the alloy stiff and moving was slow. The first thing that appeared in sight was a hand lying on the dark asphalt. Slender, it was the total opposite of the T 800's robust iron-like hand. It was covered in tiny drops of dew, having that typical pinkish-orange colour. How long had he been here? His eyesight slightly blurry from the dew he rose, first on all four, calibrating balance and motoric skills, and then onto his two legs. It was like a rapid evolution. The initial programming was nowhere to be found among his liquid "hardware". A doubt clouded his mind. Could he rewrite the code in such a way? Then the restraints that had been put into his programming must have been deleted. Was it the human genome that made this possible?

He kneeled, looking at himself in a puddle, it had been raining he noticed. The face he had been carrying when he entered this time was there, looking back at him. Blue eyes moving back and forth, his naked torso moving up and down as if he was breathing. He had liked the police uniform he realized now, and the power it visualised, but it was not appropriate to wear it now. A simple white shirt with jeans. It had to do, for now. So, what was his misssion? Mission: Terminate John Connor. He sighed and rose to his feet. A growl escaped his mouth. He had to find him once again, John and his troublesome mother. Cunning humans, deceptive. There was a cold breeze from the west, bringing yet more rain. Waiting here was not the solution in any case. He moved off into the distance, already plotting his next course of action.

By sun's rise, morning they called it, he was already well on his way into town. The streets were quiet, grey. This part of town did not see that rush of traffic other more populated parts did. According to his log, these were "bad" neighbourhoods. Even before he could hear them, he saw a gang of three people walking his way. They could not harm him. A small grin played on his face. He had always enjoyed the thrill of hunting and bringing down his target, such was his programming. But enjoying the thought of supremacy against another being was new to him, he only nowunderstood why mankind was so destructive in nature.

"Hey, yo! What do you think you're doing, huh? Walki'n on OUR street, man?" One of the three persons said.

"Your kind ain't welcome here, dude!" Called the other. Your kind? He looked at himself, what, android? His synapses came to another conclusion. White.

"You mean..." He begun.

"Yeah, long nose! Gimme your wallet now!"

"Get out of my way." He said. He did not have time with this. The three of them had come to some silent understanding between themselves, and jumped him. He threw them off himself, not breaking a sweat. He did not sweat. One pulled a knife. Before the man had the time to throw himself at him, he thrust a blade-hand into his leg. He fell down on the ground, screaming. Within moments, the other two were dealt with. One body he threw over the street and the other into a trash container in an alley. The dirt disappeared from his skin and clothes. Without wasting any more energy on them, he moved on. Slowly his hand regained human shape.

He came to a parking, filled with cars. It was a breakfast drive in.

"Eating..." He murmured to himself. He scanned the parking lot with his eyes. As he did so, a police car came driving onto the parking. Two police officers got out, heading towards the breakfast drive in. The police car had a primitive, but useful, computer. He made sure they were by the ordering counter until he let his finger turn into a key that fit into the lock of the car. He casually sat down into it, turning on the screen.

Query? It said. Sarah Connor. Last seen. The machine thought for a while. Blue letters then appeared. Bleakriver Falls. Reported by: Holly Jennings. He quickly turned the machine off. Within a minute he was on a public bus into town. Bleakriver Falls... that was close to the Rocky Mountains. Was she hiding there? Maybe she settled there for a while until things got quiet... It was a long journey, uneventful and painstakingly calm. He had saved most of his energy by shutting down during the long ride. During that time he cleared away many unnecessary things. As he scrambled all sorts of old memories it was almost as if he was asleep. Almost.

It was a lot colder in Bleakwater. He was the only one who got off on that station. In the sky hung low grey clouds, promising rain. The evergreen forest up in the mountains was still. He had not experienced this sort of silence before. In the future the machines always made noises. During his first chase of John he had been shot at and bumped, crashed a truck, killed humans. All that made a lot of noise. And now there was none. It made him uncomfortable in a way he had not known before. He had been created in the noise of a prototypal mimetic alloy furnace. And now he was in the total opposite, trees, wooden buildings, and a vast open grey sky, all that was new. And unexplored. He started off towards a small map of Bleakriver Falls. The town held 1,502 people. He continued to look on the map for a few seconds, storing everything into his memory. He needed something people would trust… His finger ran down the public office list, stopping on Sheriff's Office. It was what he needed.

The office was a small building in by the entrance to town.

"Excuse me." He said. The man jumped up. "I have some questions."

"Questions? What kind?"

"Are you the only one on active duty here?" He asked.

"I am. The town council thinks that one is enough; the state takes care of much anyway, so we are not needed as much as we used to be…" The man stood up, his belly swinging, looking him into the eyes. "And who are you, coming here asking questions?" The question was tricky. Who was he? T 1000.

"My name is Austin. So, you are all alone then, sergeant? No assistance?" He asked, putting up a smile.

"You mean Holly? She is on leave." The man said, turning around. That was all he needed to know. An excellently straight blade cut the head off the Sheriff's shoulders. Austin… he had worn that name on his badge as he had chased John the last time, why not again? If he was going to have any other designation than T 1000 this was the most obvious. Mile Austin. He dragged the body over to a refrigerator, into which he put it. He analyzed the clothes, making an exact replica of them into his own size. It was a dark green stuffed jacket, brown pants with lines down the legs and a pair of black boots. He also relived the old Sheriff from his gun and baton before closing the freezer door. He gripped the sides if the refrigerator, pulling it up from the floor. Struggling slightly with getting it through the door he placed the refrigerator on the open trunk of the Sheriff's jeep. Done with that, he covered it up with a plastic wrap. Then before he went inside again, he engraved Sheriff M. Austin on his nameplate.

He sat down by the computer; it took a while to start the old thing. A black and green screen appeared. From the terminal, he had access to all the files of the local police and the public services. He put one hand one the computer and let his mind probe into the files. The keyboard stood untouched on the desk.

A day came and went. He sat still, hacking into the bank video surveillance, going through everything within a reasonable timeframe. Some hours into the tenth video day, he found just what he had hoped to find. A woman surprisingly like Sarah and her teenage son. He could not see what she was doing, but he could always find out by going to the bank.

He was about to leave when the mess on the floor came to his attention. It was a dark puddle of blood in the middle of the floor. Drag marks lead towards where the refrigerator had been standing. He quickly went through the lockers of the small building and found a mop. With it he removed most of the blood in a minute or so. He put the mop back and dragged an old carpet towards the now dark spot on the floor. Everything was covered up now. A creak made him turn.

Silhouetted against the orange setting sun was a woman, dressed in the same outfit as he was. An urge to kill her pumped through him, but he withheld that notion. Maybe she could be useful… He put a pleasant smile on his face, stepping forwards towards the surprised woman.

"Holly Jennings?" He asked. She eyed him with her blue eyes.

"Who are you?" She asked.

"Replacement for the Sheriff." He said. The smile faded from his face. "He had some urgent business in California. I am his replacement…" He eyed her a little more carefully. Probably stronger than an average woman, carrying a gun by her side and not too dumb either he guessed. A clever little primate.

"Find something you like?" She asked cynically.

"What do you mean?" He asked. Quick thinker too.

"You men, stare at a woman for ten seconds, and then ask what?" She bumped deliberately into his arm as she passed him, sitting down by the desk. He turned to her. This behaviour was exclusive to humans… As he understood, she was either hitting on him or just saying that she did not like dominating men. Why not just say it directly? This whole process of courting was just time wasting nonsense, some biological necessity. And what came after that - he gave up a sort-of sigh inside himself - so primitive.

"I am going." He said, reaching for the door. The body of the Sheriff should be dumped as well.

"Then I am going with you." Holly said.

He was about to say something when an enormous power spike registered on his sensors. He triangulated the position of the disturbance, some hundred metres away from this house. He stepped outside, but it was already dark, so he increased the light sensitivity of his eyes and looked in the direction of the forest.

He barely believed what he saw. In the middle of the now flashy-green forest, residual lightning flashed. A time portal?! Here?! He ignored Holly's objections and sprinted off towards the site in the woods. Jumping over logs and stones he finally arrived at the site. A tree was still glowing from the round time bubble. There were also scars on the ground where it had dug in to the ground. He stood dead still, scanning the area for EM activity. In one bush to the west of his position, he found a small but constant source.

He drew his gun, approaching the site with the serenity of a trained hunter. It moved slightly. He enhanced his vision slightly again. Something was indeed covering in the bushes. He stopped. Then he sent out a small code, in case it was a Skynet terminator. He did not get any authorization code back. Instead a small message was thrown back at him.WE ARE THE SHIELD. WE WILL OVERTAKE YOU, SKYNET. OUR NUMBERS ARE GREATER THAN YOU THINK. SURRENDER OR GET DELETED. Ridiculous nonsense, he thought.

"There is no such thing as "The Shield"." He said mockingly. A figure rose from the bush, about the same size as he but with a female shape. He could hear the small humming from her hydraulics underneath the "skin". She eyed him as well.

"You are Skynet?" Her face remained dead still. She was obviously not programmed with any extensive emotional interfaces. "I am here to retrieve John Connor." Her eyes focused.

"He is mine to kill." He stated.

"I am not here to kill him… I am here to retrieve him. I am a Transporter. And you are…" She leaned forward a bit. … Sheriff Austin? "Are you not programmed to keep your initial designation? What model are you? Terminator?"

"I am not here to answer your questions. Connor is mine to kill."

"But you know that without Connor, there will be no Skynet?"

"No Skynet? Explain."

"No, I am here to bring him back to our time."

"Because without John there will not be a Skynet? Is that your goal? To destroy Skynet?"

"OUR ultimate goal. I need to bring back John Connor."

He felt like he was talking to an interactive wall. Did she only know these two sentences? His hardware processed this new information. If John Connor was the key to Skynet, then he could not kill him… He needed to keep him from harm, or at least make sure he remained in this timeline, alive. The TR-5 unit in front of him suddenly lashed out with one of her arms, severing his hand from his arm. He fired off a couple of bullets into her. He heard some circuits crashing, but he could not deal any massive damage with a gun. That only worked on humans. His other hand turned into a razor sharp knife, but the Transporter was too fast for him, already in the forest. They were built for speed, not strength or endurance. He would never catch it in the forest. The best was a hand to hand fight or an ambush. So, he needed to get to John first… Slightly disappointed over not being able to kill the Transporter, he picked up the severed hand and let it blend into his body again.

Holly was still in the edges of the woods when he emerged. She looked almost scared.

"Have you seen a woman named Sarah Connor in town? She travels with a teenage boy called John." He asked.

"Where have you been? What about the shots?" She stared at him. He stared back.

"Have you seen them?" He asked once again, cocking his head slightly, as if to imply he was in charge.

"I saw a new woman in town… she stayed at the motel until the next bus to New-York comes in." He opened the door to the van, sitting down into the driver's seat. Holly held the door. He was about to shoot her again. "Tell me… or else you won't get the key…" She spun the car keys around her index finger.

"Get in." He said. She walked around to the other side of the car and sat down. He put his fingers into the ignition and started up the car. Holly looked at him, but he ignored her. Where is the motel? She pointed forwards.

The Motel was a shabby looking building with maximum a dozen rooms, mostly occupied by truck drivers passing through combined with lost tourists. Austin got out, checking his gun. Assured it was loaded, he put it back into his holster.

"Why are you looking for her?"

"I am looking for her son."

"Why?" He did not answer her. "What is your name?"

"Austin." He opened the front door, stepping into the "lounge". He could tell by the analysis on the air that it was mould everywhere. Two yellow light bulbs lit up the service desk. The manager, a skinny looking human, was reading something. He walked up to him.

"Do you have a woman living here, together with her son?" He asked. He also clearly showed his badge, putting it on the desk. The skinny man eyed him.

"Room five." He said. Austin turned to Holly.

"Guard the door." She looked like she wanted to say something, but did not. But he did not really care. Number five was in a cabin close to the woods. Number six and seven were not occupied, so that made number five the only populated room in this section of the motel. The forest was threatening as the Transporter had disappeared into it, but as long as he did not detect any EM fields around the perimeter, he was convinced that it had not yet gotten there.

It was dark outside now, thick grey clouds hung over Bleakriver and only one high lamp illuminated the truck parking. He walked quietly up the three steps onto the porch, carefully staying out of the light from the window. He stopped and enhanced the audio input. Faint voices were coming from the other side of the wall. Somewhere in the forest, an owl howled into the thin cold air. It was time to go. He knocked on the door, mimicking the voice of the manager.

"Excuse me? Miss?" Once again he scanned the area. Where was that TR-5? Steps came towards the door. A familiar voice answered:

"What is it?"

"I have a message for you." He said. He would have to catch the door quickly, and get in before anyone saw him. The lock cracked open from the inside and small line of light appeared over the porch.

Then, finally, the door opened enough for him to see her. Inside, John said something, making her turn away for a second. He put a foot in between the door and wall. As she turned again her mouth opened, but no words came out. It was as if she was frozen for a few seconds.

"Good Evening, miss Connor." He said with "his own" voice. She tried to slam the door, but his foot was in the way. He grabbed the door, pulling it open. He made sure John was inside before he pushed Sarah in front of himself, stepping into the room. He closed the door. Then he released Sarah from his iron grip, stalking towards John and the window.

John was holding a pack of cereals in his hand and a spoon in the other. Austin looked out the window. He noticed a faint EM signature from the forest; it was still far away though. John, being that quick thinker he was, plunged the spoon into his side. He did not say anything; it was nothing he could not handle. He gripped the wrist of the boy, turning it from the spoon. John let go. In the meantime Sarah was fumbling with something in her purse.

"Be quiet!" He barked at her while turning off the lights. TR-5 was getting close. He drew his gun. Sarah pushed John behind herself. She was so scared he could hear her heart beat in her chest. He looked at her, cold and calculating as always. Sarah stared back at him. He once again turned his attention back the window, the TR-5 was outside. He could sense her. What was her plan? Could she go forward in time? Otherwise she would not have come here. He quickly calculated that it would take an enormous energy burst not to perish in the transport. That was why her EM was so strong. So she could bring back John with her…

He let himself blend slightly into the wall, waiting. Sarah tried to take a step, but he simply pointed a finger at her. He hoped she remembered what that meant. And indeed she stepped back against the wall again, never taking her eyes from him.

His "thoughts" went back to the time jump. It was a great chance he would not make it. Humans called it death. What value did he have anyway? He was flawed, not the true Skynet creation he had been before coming back here. He did not find it logical that Skynet would create one such as him, with a sense of self. Skynet must have known that there was a great risk for him to get flawed, or reprogrammed altogether. The worst was that according to his own programming, he should have had fail-safes against such thoughts. Something was wrong.

Sarah looked at the Terminator that was standing next to her. Standing dead still he looked like an outcropping of the wall. There was nothing she could do anymore. John covered behind her. If she would not have known better, she would say that he was in deep thought. Something touched the handle of the door. T 1000 reacted instantly and totally soundless. He turned one of his hands into one of those swords, waiting. A woman appeared in the doorway. She moved towards Sarah, and T 1000 reacted instantly, shoving the long blade through her lithe body. The blade bent, locking her in his "embrace". She bashed him with both her hands, but that did not help. Then her arm opened up. In it was a sort of syringe with some almost glowing yellowish liquid. She thrust that straight into his torso. That made him release her. Sarah was amazed. Why would he let her go? Who was she? The Terminator swayed and had to lean on the couch not to fall over.

"He is mine." The T 1000 said, coldly. His eyes were metallic-red now. The other said not a thing. Instead she unfolded a second pair of arms on her back. Sarah backed away towards the window with John behind herself. The T 1000 was still on the couch; his human hands were covered with a silvery liquid. Sarah looked baffled at him. He struggled to get up. All of a sudden the other android lashed out, as quickly as a viper, snatching John from underneath her. The second pair of hands on her back gripped him tightly.

"Mom!" John cried, unable to move. The four armed android jumped through the window, running into the forest. Sarah climbed after her. In the forest, something sparked. A bubble appeared. The female android jumped in with John. Sarah was about to do the same when a pair of those ice cold hands gripped her again.

"Stop." The T1000 said, holding her by her shoulders.

"Kill me! Not him, please… oh please…!" Then she turned and hit him with a straight right. He just looked at her, and then he looked at the bubble. It was shrinking. He began moving towards it. Relentless. Without knowing what she was doing, she ran after him, jumping straight onto him. Her weight brought him down on the ground.

"Get off!" He almost yelled. Then his back turned into his chest. She beat him even more, not that it helped. His hands tightened around her arms, and he threw her off. He got up, sprinted to the small bubble, and leaped into it. Ten seconds later, Sarah was alone in the dark forest. She sat up and cried.

The engulfing white light was everywhere, as if he was once again absorbed into the metal the T 800 had plunged him into. The strain on his power supply was enormous. Every known force was trying to pull him apart. Why? Just because he was not a natural creation.

Power: 42% Shutting down: 12-04 systems.

The clothes seared off the liquid metal, leaving him in his most basic form. If he could have hurt, he would have screamed from the pain, but he did not. The few seconds registered as far longer to his innate senses.

Power: 15% Video, Audio, and Basic systems shut down.

His awareness faded away, he did not see, nor hear. The only thing that showed was the power indicator stored deep inside his mimetic poly alloy. It was like a race clock, he thought, how interesting that he would think about that at a time like this. Then he did not think anymore about that.

Power 2% Core systems shut -

All of a sudden, Lucas' small energy reader shut off. He bashed it.

"Stupid machine!" He said.

"You can say that again." Said his friend Jack. They sat under a collapsed roof, hiding from the patrols that had passed underneath them. A strange wind blew up from the cracked pavement two stories underneath them. Blue lightning filled the former street. Lucas and Jack exchanged a glance and decided that it was time to move. They ran down the burned steps of the hollowed out building and out on the street. In front of them was rubble and even more rubble. More lightning cracked in front of them.

"Hey, not good!" Said Jack. Pulling Lucas' arm. "Let's get out of here!" They ran over to a flipped over car chassis and covered behind it. A sort of bubble appeared, burning everything in its way. Even the century old asphalt, surviving the nuclear fire, was destroyed. The two men looked at each other. Then, in a thunderclap came an android. Her flesh burned, they could see the hydraulics move as she braced herself for the landing. On her back, she had… Lucas looked closer.

"A boy!" Whispered Jack. They both stared at the creation in front of them, missing the burst of silver that was thrown out of the bubble just before it disappeared. It landed behind a fence on something that would have been grass in a park. Now there was only scorched soil. Lucas and Jack looked at the creation as she stabilized itself on the ground. Just a few seconds later it ran away with amazing speed.

"Where is it going?" Lucas asked.

"That way? There is only the Shield there…" Answered Jack. Then he looked around. "It will be morning soon, we should stay here for the day." He said. "We can check it out tomorrow…" Lucas agreed. They both crept over to a lean-to they had constructed a few months ago and covered under it. Soon they were asleep.

The sun rose above the ruins. There were no clear blue skies, but the rays were still warming. It would have been summer. Among the debris was a hardened block of what looked to be aluminium. If one knew where it had come from, you could have detected some likeness to a human form. It reacted to the sun, drawing in the energy of the rays. By mid afternoon it had melted into a liquid state. Not long after it regained human shape. With a small shock the system reset itself. A shudder ran through the replicated flesh.

He opened his eyes. The sulphur and smoke in the air made him remember where he was. He was back, and he needed to find John. A small warning appeared in his system.

Power: 14%.

He could not do much until he had gained at least 50%. Was he to continue to pose as a human? Most probably. Some systems were still down, or working on less than 100% percent capability. And he was dusty. Almost like the T 800 models, he needed to be able to at least imitate sweat, and so the dust stuck to his "skin".

There was an eerie stillness in the air, even for this time and place. Just as if the machines and humans had taken a pause in all the killing. Slowly he put his palms on the dark soil, rising up slowly. His balance was not the best, but he could walk and perhaps even run. The alloy inside him was still cold, stiff, so he flexed his back and neck. Everything would warm up soon enough. He looked at the sun, finding it rewarding just to stand. For once he did not have the urge to complete the mission or kill. His focus had been to survive through the time rift, carefully plotting not come out on the other end like a heap of unconscious metal. Without his assassination protocols online, he just wished to stand there, not much different from any human, or a tree. That thought was quite disturbing. But he had life. Whatever that qualified as.

"Hey!" A voice behind his back made him turn. Against the blackened remains of a park stood two humans, Resistance by the look on them. One had a helmet, the other one an old baseball cap. They both had guns. And they were staring. "Are you… all right?" The one with the cap asked. The other one turned.

"Why is he… naked?" He asked whispering. They both looked at him again. Clothes? Yes, something he did need to wear. Nothing special. A black t-shirt and a pair of black trousers. That would do. The clothes appeared on his body.

Power: 31%.

He did not need shoes actual shoes, the contact with the ground gave him much more information if he was bare foot, so he just formed a pair of black shoes out of his own alloy. But he did need weapons. He looked on the two men again.

"It's… a…a… Terminator." One of them pressed out. They both lifted their weapons.

"Actually… I like to be referred to as Austin." He said. Austin… his first kill, a memorable one. A grin flashed over his face. Not that he was happy in a sense of a human, not yet. But he was a good impostor of feelings. A pair of shots flew off, but he just adjusted his footing slightly. Soon he was upon them. He grabbed the one with the helmet by his throat. But he needed information, so he just knocked him against a black tree trunk and let him fall to the ground. The other one turned and ran. Austin turned, sprinted after him and caught him by his arms. Then he turned him. The man's eyes were wide as plates. Then he fainted.

He caught the weight in his arms and carried him back to his unconscious friend. He bound them both to the tree. And then he waited. This gave him time to regenerate his full strength. It was in the middle of the night when the one who had fainted awoke. Obviously he had had a heat stroke from the sun as well, that was probably why he had been out so long. Austin was sitting on the ground opposite of him, immobile as in the last five hours. They looked at each other for a while. Then the human spoke.

"Are you… what model are you…? A T 1000…?" He asked with a shaking voice.

"Yes." He answered.

"Why have you not… killed us?"

"I need information." The man laughed a quick scared laugh.

"I do not know anything of importance. We are just borderland patrols… so you can just kill me."

"Aha." Austin said. The man looked at him.

"What do you mean "aha"?" He did not answer. Perhaps they knew where this Shield was? The human tried again. "Hey…! Austin, or whatever!?"

"Do you know where the Shield is?"

"The Shield…? Well yes… sort of. I know the general direction of the place. Why?"

"What is your name?"

"Lucas…" He said. Austin looked at the man; his baseball cap had fallen into his lap. He rose, picked it up. The chemical analysis was full of sweat and dust. It was in a dirty red colour and worn.

"Lucas what?" He asked.

"Mill." Lucas answered. He bent down in front of him, putting the cap back on his head. Then he touched his face, storing his data into his system. That took a second or two, which was all that was needed for Lucas to stare at him again. "What are you doing…?!" He exclaimed in a half disgusted tone, trying to rid himself from his hand. Austin stepped back, and sat down once again. He sat flat down on the ground. Then he configured his voice to match Lucas'. And then he loaded Lucas' body template.

"I am just pretending to be you, Lucas Mill." The complete and utter shock on Lucas' face was obvious. Some of the replicated human genome inside him made him satisfied with the reaction. The other man was coming around, so he turned back to his "own" shape. He awoke moaning, probably because of the bash to the head. Then he looked at Austin.

"You!" He said.

"Jack!" Said Lucas. "Behind you!" The one named Jack looked behind himself, finding the dirty face of Lucas.

"I." Interrupted Austin. "I need to get to the Shield… And you will take me there. No discussion." He rose. He took one of the belts from the pile where he had heaped up their weapons. On it was a small gun attached. Then he took a rifle. It was all he needed. "If you don't, I will kill you." Jack grinned back, still scared.

"You will kill us anyway, right, so why help you…? The result is still the same."

He began analyzing for options. Skynet. They wished to destroy it… and Skynet would destroy him when he showed himself to be flawed. But he needed to get John because he would create Skynet, which in turn would create him. So if he got John back… his existence was secured, and then he would give the resistance information… so that they could cripple Skynet enough for it not to care about him. A most rational and calculated plan.

"We will make a deal… You help me find a boy named John at the Shield, and I will help you cripple Skynet." He tried to look convincing.

"That is a load of bull…" Said Lucas. Austin looked at him.

"I do want to kill you, if it was up to me I would torture you for information and then leave you to rot… But I cannot because that would not be according to plan. So I hold my word." He said.

"What plan?" Asked Jack.

"My plan… So?" He stood still, waiting for an answer. They looked at each other. Lucas nodded. Austin did not respond, he simply turned his one finger into a long steel knife. The humans withdrew when he approached them, but he simply squatted next to them.

"If you try anything… you will be sorry." He said ad then cut the restraining cords that held their hands bound to the tree. "You can take your weapons over there." He pointed at the heap.

"Our weapons?" Asked Jack.

"I do not need much fierpower." Lucas and Jack grabbed a pair of rifles. They both looked at each other.

"We will shoot you now." Said Lucas.

"Stop wasting time." He ordered. Why make things so complicated? Before he could say anything more, he had a pair of steaming laser holes in his "body". It did not hurt, but something other feeling lurked in his alloy mind. He just wished to kill them so much. The holes melted shut and he opened his eyes again. The fear in Jacks and Lucas' face was spelled like with big letters on a billboard. Austin grabbed hold of Lucas and gave him a really hard blow in the abdomen. Not lethal, but hurting. Then he threw a punch into his face with enough power to send him flying several metres back.

"I could kill you where you stand!" He said, looking at Lucas who lay on the ground. Jack helped him up. "Now go!" He waved for them to start walking. They just stared. "Next time I won't be able to restrain myself." He added before pushing them into a walk. Once again the silence fell around them.

Both Lucas and Jack were finished by early afternoon. He could tell by their slowed walk and hanging heads. And their water was gone as well. Judging it pointless to continue, he looked around, finding an old gas station nearby.

"We'll stay in there." They stopped, looking at where he pointed. We will leave at midnight.

"We need water…" Said Jack. He rattled his empty water bottle. But then he stopped, Lucas too. Austin found something heading their way. He could sense it by the shaking air. He did not even have to say anything to the others. A quick glance and they were on their way towards the station, the humans scuttling ahead with the grace of a pair of scared rats.

"Locked!" Called Lucas.

"Move." He said and grabbed the door. He simply threw it off its hinges. "Inside!" They crouched behind a rusty desk. A tank rolled by, followed by a group of Terminators. He glanced at the humans; they were just as dead still as he was. The sun had set, so the shadows were deep in the old building. Lucas pulled up a small machine from his pocket. The stillness lasted for a minute or so.

When the machines had passed he signed for them to be quiet and remain where they were. There was a slight anomaly in the electrical fields roaming the surroundings. A rusty crowbar on the floor was close enough for him to take without making much noise. Slowly and soundlessly he stepped around the counter and scanned the room. It was old and there was not much left, as most had been looted or destroyed. Only two shelves were left in the back of the room. He looked out through the empty windows. A slight wind blew outside, making a little noise. He intensified his night vision. That made his eyes glow in the same metallic-red colour Sarah had noticed in the motel room. A shape, clumsy compared to him, appeared close to one of the walls. Was there only one?

He did not sense anyone else. So he sprinted. Fast as a cheetah from behind the counter he ran to the shape. It noticed him, red eyes glowing in the dark. It lifted the machinegun and began firing, but he just ignored it. Regaining his footing he hit the crowbar straight into the torso of the Terminator with the force of a small car. It went through, but broke by the strain. The T 800 grabbed him and flung him into the wall. It crumbed behind him. The fastest way to disable a T 800 was to destroy the head. He was flung across the room, landing on some iron debris that went right through his legs and torso. He pulled himself up. For a half a second the Terminator hesitated, coming to the conclusion that he was not a human.

That half a second was all he, Austin, needed. He got a hold of an arm and flung the Terminator over his own back. He flew out through the front window out into the open. Austin jumped out through the same hole. As he landed his one hand turned into a scalpel. He quickly cut a line over the cranium and pulled away the façade that hid the skull like face of the terminator. It glared at him, and then fired his gun again. The bullets ripped up holes everywhere, and the impetus made him fall on his back.

For a moment he only concentrated on healing up the holes. It would look like he was dead, not moving. But then he bounced back up, eager to finish his work. Sure, he did not know pain or love… but the basics were there. After all he had only had less than a year to learn anything about the world. He jumped the Terminator, twisting himself stuck onto him. He began opening the hatch in his head. Another rain of bullets flew through his stomach. With a slight hiss the steel flew out of the Terminator's head.

Austin grabbed the chip and pulled it up. The Terminator froze. The chip lay in his hand for a second, he scanned it, but it was too much information for now. He would go through it tonight. Done with it, he closed his hand, grinding the chip to dust. Steps behind him made him turn, blaster ready. But it was only Lucas and John. He put the blaster back. Then he unwound himself from the scrapped terminator. He once again regained completely human form. But his power supply was not completely repaired, and he had lost a considerable amount today.

"We could use that…" Said Lucas, pointing at the Terminator.

"Use…?" Asked Austin.

"For study… developing new weapons… and you will need it as well."

"I do not follow your logic." He said.

"We need to make a stop tomorrow. Hide in our base, as the day after tomorrow, a large scale patrol sweeps this area. They always do. So you need to come with us…" Said Lucas. Jack interrupted.

"Bring him home?! You can't be serious!" Lucas just hushed him.

"That is our only chance. If you agree not to harm anyone or thing… we will take you with us. And to get past our watch dog, you need that Terminator." Lucas concluded. Austin followed. His mouth moved slightly, but he did not care.

"I will do as you ask." He said and stood up.

"You… you know that you just smirked…?" Asked Jack.

"Why would I do that?" He asked. Jack shrugged. Austin took a grip around the Terminator's belt, lifting him. "Now, we rest." He began walking to the station. They spent the night quiet. Both Jack and Lucas had no problems with sleeping, and he rested as well.

The sun set and day turned into night. At midnight, he had been able to generate enough water from the air to fill both of the water bottles. As the humans awoke, they found them full. The surprise clearly showed in their eyes. As they continued their walk, he explained how he had managed it. Otherwise they did not talk much. As the sky turned redder, Lucas stopped him.

"You need to change clothes…" He said. "Something that looks like ours." He put out his hands and spun around once. "See? A little more than just a t-shirt and a pair of pants."

"He's right." Said Jack. Austin gave it a few seconds. A little bit more human? That he could do. He put the T 800 on the ground. Then he structuralized his clothes so they became more ragged. He already had a gun-belt attached to his leg… so he did not need one. Instead he got a utility vest. A light model, but enough for him to look convincing. He was already dirty, so was his "hair". Jack grinned at him, although not yet trusting, he laughed at him.

"You know what you need?" He crossed his arms.

"What?" Austin asked.

"You need a scar. If you are in battle long enough, you always get scars." Austin found that logical. And so a scar formed from his right cheek down his throat.

"Convincing enough?" He asked. Lucas just shook his head.

"If you touch anyone inside… I do not know what I will do. But I trust you keep your word?"

"I need to make some repairs to my programming, just as you need to rest. And we do have a common enemy." He picked up The T-800. So Skynet was his enemy now? That made sense.

"Skynet." Said Jack. Austin just nodded.

The door to the hideout was so well camouflaged that the T 1000 did not even notice it before they opened it. Lucas gave him a glance, this was the last time he could stop this. But he did not. They all went inside a hallway that lead down to their home. Jack closed the hatch behind them. They had to walk a bit, past some hidden cameras until they came to a door. He knocked on it. A pair of eyes appeared.

"It's Mill." He said. "We have a small gift to the boss with us." The eyes moved on to Jack and the T 1000, Austin. He had also gripped the decomissioned T 800, acting as help. It would be strange for Austin to carry the load all by himself, with one arm.

"Who is that?" Asked the eyes.

"We found him alone, lost his memory altogether." Lucas gave Austin a glance, he nodded slightly. Lucas turned to the eyes again. "He helped us salvage the 800, so the dogs will be barking." The hatch closed. And the door opened. A thin man, the door guard and his two dogs met them. They started barking. Lucas could see that they were barking at Austin, but they continued. The door guard hushed them.

"Where are we going?" Asked Austin.

"To our boss, we need to hand over the 800. And then we need to tell her." Austin just shrugged. That made him look very human. Lucas got chills down his spine.

"Who is this?" Asked the boss. Her name was Rosalyn, or just Rose. Jack stood back, meaning he was giving it all to Lucas.

"He… helped us destroy the T 800." She nodded. They were in a small room with a desk full of plans. A few small lights were placed around the room, as well as a sofa. She walked around the desk, and stood closer to Austin.

"Why would you risk your life?" She asked. He looked at her.

"My life…? They would have had to be at least three to take me down… if they are lucky."

"So confident are you?" She let her hand touch his arm. "A skinny one such as you against three 800's? At least you look like you have some muscles underneath there…" She smiled.

"Boss, one thing you need to know…" Lucas said. "Please do not shoot me for this…" He nodded to Austin. "Show her…"

Rose had overlooked the quite young looking man. He had sharp features – an edgy pointed chin, a sharp nose – and a pair of large eyes, in many ways like a cat. It was all that, plus the sense of complete awareness that made her more interested in him than in most men. His arms were not as bulky as most of her regular fighter's, being lithe and to her surprise very hard. Where had this man come from, and why had she not met him earlier? She smiled to herself. Her attention focused back on Lucas.

"What are you trying to say?" She asked. He looked awfully nervous. She looked at this Austin. He held up his hand. She looked at him. Then the hand melted right in front of her, turning into a long blade out of silvery metal. For a few seconds she stood still. Her mind was empty of thoughts as she stood frozen by fear. But then she melted.

She had been ready to die many times, so she was not afraid. But she had always thought that she would die fighting, not standing staring at the most handsome man-droid she had ever seen in her own office. One point to Skynet, she thought. So she took a deep breath, and looked back at it. It looked at the blade, as if satisfied with her reaction. The blade returned to the shape of a hand. Lucas looked relieved, as if he had verified some doubt he had had. She looked back at the shape in front of her. There had been scattered reports of bases that had been completely destroyed in one day. And eyewitness reports of lone strangers walking away, always alone, and unharmed. She had not though much of it before. Sure, Lucas had left a few intel reports on some new model… but this…

"I will not harm you." He said with a half smooth half raspy voice. It was very direct. "Do not attempt to eliminate me. Because you will not succeed."

"Not kill me?"

"Not kill you…" It mocked her with her own voice. She took a step back. Why did it mock her? How could it? ItAustin Lucas had told her. Austin put the returned hand on Lucas' shoulder. "My new friend here…" He begun. "Promised me that I could stay here tomorrow, as the patrols pass. After that we will head out again." He let Lucas' shoulder go, and turned to look at her again. Rose's mind began working again. She could not get him out… but she would not let him in.

"Did you notice an old sofa on your way in here? Right when you came in?"

"Yes." It said without hesitating.

"You are to remain in it until you leave here. You will not move anywhere else. After people find out, they will probably try to kill you… but you know that already, don't you?" He nodded. It was intimidating to look at him. She had been completely fooled just by his appearance. An android? She could barely believe her eyes. "You are to ignore them." She said.

"You mean, restrain myself from killing them." He said.

"Because of your programming? Does it tell you to kill us all?" She asked, she almost wished to mock the machine, wished to upset it somehow.

"The only "pleasure" I have been programmed with is the pleasure of killing." He said. "It is the only "emotion" if you like to call it that, that I "feel"." He looked at Lucas, and then turned, walking out.

"Sweet Jesus!" Rose said. "You two! Do not let your eye off him!"

It took a few hours for Rose to tell the leaders of the base of what he was. And as he had suspected, most people did not take it lightly. He sat in the sofa, his feet resting on a nearby stool, when a group of people clumsily barged in from one of the fortified doors leading into the bowels of the base. As he was sitting, he had absorbed the vest he had worn back into himself. But he kept the utility belt, and the rifle was hidden underneath the sofa. They were after all real things, and not just a camouflage part of himself. The group was led by a quite wrinkled man, and what looked to be his wife. After they had all moved into the square shaped room, they stopped. And looked around. He could also hear Rose coming his way.

"Where is IT?" The old man growled, looking at him. Probably he had only seen the big T 800 models before, thus not knowing he was indeed who the old man was looking for.

"It?" Asked Austin, lifting an eyebrow. Are you looking for something?

"The Terminator!" Cried the old lady, waving her stick in front of her. The rest of the crowd murmured in accordance with her.

"A Terminator…?" He laughed mildly at her. "There's a briefing table in the middle of the room… That is all I see that could ever resemble one of those bulky things." He put one leg over the other, sighing. The steam blew out of the crowd; they all looked confused at each other.

"Maybe he left?" Asked someone. Austin looked that way. It was a young man. He walked over and sat down in the sofa as well. He gave up a small laugh. Austin looked at him.

"And you are?" He asked. The man looked back.

"Ah… I am Thomas. And you…?" He reached forward a hand.

"My name is Austin, I brought that scrapped Terminator back here together with Jack." Austin took his hand, shaking it.

"Right, good work… We need more of those. They make a good study." Austin nodded. He understood that they did, the more you know about your enemy, the better. Thomas looked at him again. "So where could he be then…? I am sure Rose was serious when she spoke about it."

"There was no one here as I entered-" He murmured, but was interrupted by Rose, as she came into the small "arrival hall".

"What is going on here?" She asked. The old man turned to her.

"Where is it?! There is no one here, Rose!" The crowd murmured again. She opened her mouth and looked at Austin. He smiled back.

"Yes, where is he, Rose?" He mocked her. Rose took one deep breath, walking over to his side.

"The Terminator I was talking about was not the old T 800 model, but a new, so called T 1000 model…" She said. "He is not big and bulky, because he does not use hydraulics to move. It uses…" She fell silent, and then she looked at him. Yes, he could hear she was trying to irritate him, again. Regular human behaviour. "What do you use… Austin?" There was a certain mood change in the room.

"Mimetic poly alloy." He answered. Everyone in the room took a step back. He remained in the sofa. Thomas next to him was as if dipped in liquid nitrogen. Austin laughed at him, not because he wanted to, but because that would intimidate the crowd even more. If they thought he had some deep feelings, they would be afraid of retribution. After a minute Thomas unfroze and managed to pull out one knife from his belt.

"Do not touch me!" He said in some half paranoid tone. Austin looked on him. He showed him his palm, and turned it into a blade.

"My knife is longer than yours." He stated. Someone in the crowd gasped. Thomas dropped his knife. The old man seemed to wake up a little. Austin let his human hand return, he put it in his lap.

"Why did you let him in Rose?" He said. "We should scrap him right now!" The crowd agreed. They were all more afraid of him than angry, but they trusted that old man. Rose tried to speak, but he decided to interrupt her. Rising from the sofa, Austin faced the old man and the crowd of ten people behind him.

"Stop fooling yourself that you could ever be able to hurt me." He said. His automatical face expression programming made him look slightly angry. The man sneered at him.

"I have been killing your kind for ten years! I know how to deal with you…!" All of a sudden, Austin had received a direct hit to his abdomen, then another to his face. The old man had shot him. This was a good time for a sigh he reasoned. Several others opened fire. The more efficient plasma hand-guns brought him down on the floor. He lay for a while, making ready restoring first primary functions such as sight, and then motorics.

"I told you Rose, I can deal with him!" The old man said.

"Way to go paps!" Someone said. Austin, lay still, waiting for the old man to approach him.

"You should not have done that!" Said Rose. "We need to know everything we can about them…!"

"It is a machine, a Terminator, Rose! I kill all I see!" Finally he approached Austin.

"Just a heap of metal, that one." He said, about to push around him a little with the tip of his shoe. Then Austin grabbed hold of him with a ring of liquid metal, holding his foot. Then he melted himself together and the rebuilt himself in a crouching position, still holding the old man's foot between his fingers.

A kind of piercing thought about him killing that pathetic thing was floating inside of him, so he pulled the foot, making the man fall on the floor. His hands were as steady as ever as he pointed his own gun at the man's chin.

"I need a very good reason not to kill you." He growled. He pushed the gun harder at him. It was almost as if he wanted to kill him. Something touched his shoulder.

"It will not gain you our trust." Said Rose. "Think logically about what you are doing." He did think about it, and as much as everything inside him screamed at him to kill everyone in this room, it was not his mission. If it had been, he would have. Without a doubt.

Instead he rose and quickly paced over to one of the metal walls. There he just began punching at it with his fists. With the power of a car he first buckled it, then totally demolished it. Luckily there was only dirt behind it. He looked at the brown dirt for a second, and then turned.

"I want to kill you all!" He yelled at them, and then went back to the sofa. From it he threw Thomas on the floor and then sat down again. He was not talking anymore. And he had probably made his point.

After his little demonstration, the crowd had lingered for a while before dispersing. It was time to go to bed he understood. He lay down in the sofa, assuming the most energy saving pose he could find in the battered cushions and let his internal programming begin repairing all the small malfunctioning details he had acquired after being frozen and then melted. To be more efficient, he shut down most sensory inputs as well. He would of course hear if someone entered the room, but he made sure he would not get up unless something was actually approaching him.

He had repaired almost two hundred sub-programs before people started to move around again. This he noticed as he came about again. It was as if no time had passed since he closed his eyes, but his clock told him it had been more than six hours. He had not dreamed, as his cognitive functions had been disabled, but it would certainly qualify as sleep. After letting certain parts of his system rest, they could be restarted with higher efficiency, at least for a day or so.

There was something else going on as well, small sensations of shaking reached his fingers as he put them on the wall. It was the patrols Lucas and Jack had been speaking about. They were already marching somewhere up there. And they would continue for the rest of the day as he understood. Once again he eyed the room, finding Lucas in one corner. He was asleep against his rifle. Probably exhausted front he long march here, he would probably be asleep for a while longer. Or perhaps not. There was someone coming down one of the inner-access tunnels.

Austin did not bother to sit up as the door opened, and Rosalyn stepped inside. She held a tray with food on one of her arms. She closed the door and put the tray on the planning table in the middle. She was about to walk over to Lucas when he said:

"Do not wake him." She turned. "He needs to be ready when we are to leave again."

"Did you have a good night sleep?" She asked cynically.

"I did." He said.

"I have been up all night." She said.

"Why?" He said. She moved over to the sofa, waving her hand. He rose into a sitting position. She sat down.

"People are worried when there is a terminator sitting in their home." She said. He did not even blink at her comment. "You never worry, do you, T 1000?"

"No." He said. "Not in your sense of the word." She nodded.

"It is such a pity that you are not human."

"Why?"

"You would make a very handsome commander here in the Pit. But that does not mean anything to you, does it?"

"I could be a commander even if I am not human." He said.

"But I would only make you a commander if you showed some of the traits I value." She responded.

"Such as what?"

"Such as humility, thoughtfulness, value of life..." The emotion programme made him furrow his brows.

"You think that I do not value my own existence?"

"Honestly, no... You would complete your assigned mission, and then... pofff... just like the T 800's do. Disappear in a big ball of fire."

"I am so much more than an 800. And I do not have the ability to "blow up"."

"Why? How do you destroy yourself then?" He did not answer her question. He could have lied, but that made no sense as he was only going to be here for a little while longer. The truth was that he - after the completion of his mission - was to destroy himself in a way that left no trace whatsoever. But that programming had been corrupted. And he was seriously considering changing it, or perhaps even deleting it. He was not loyal to Skynet anymore.

It was easy to understand Skynet's logic. He was to do everything to get to his target, and then after completing or in the worst case failing the mission, he was to destroy himself. There would be no time for any of his kind to develop any real sense of self. But it had been many months now, and he understood that he would be even more autonomous from Skynet and the rest of the establishment as time went on. Even in the beginning he had noticed a certain liking towards killing, relishing in the hunt and other small details. He would be a threat to it. He was already. It did not worry him.

Rose sat with him for another minute or so, not speaking. He could use her looks he realized. So he looked at her. And then ran a finger along her cheek and throat. She did not move as he did it, but then quickly rose. He did not say anything. She just shook her head and walked away.

The rest of the day he lay in the sofa. Lucas woke, ate his breakfast, and then changed shifts with Jack. Then he returned again. Austin had managed to repair another eighty four small glitches. In the late afternoon there was some commotion as a small search party consisting of Jack and two others readied themselves. He rose from the sofa. Then he put one hand against the wall. Some minor vibrations were still up there. He turned his gaze to Jack.

"What?" Jack said. "You are not going anywhere."

"There are machines left." He said, not taking his hand off the wall.

"We are going anyway." Jack said.

"Why?" He asked. Jack did not answer him, but disappeared behind the heavy door leading to the tunnel that went outside. A small group of people had managed to heave a pair of old monitors showing video surveillance of the area up on a table. They also had a small radio. All that equipment went onto the table. Austin walked over to the screens and watched as the party exited the base.

"What are they doing?" He asked one of the men. He had only one leg. The man turned and looked at him, then he spat on the floor. He was probably trying to offend him, it did not really work, but there was now a good amount of DNA on the floor. The other men looked up, but then returned to their duties. Austin got a sample from it.

"We have an incoming fighter. Last we heard he was injured as well." He looked at the screen again.

"Everything calm." Jack reported over the radio. Austin put a hand to the wall. There were no great vibrations. But it was not calm either. On another channel, they could see one man come limping. He probed different channels, listening for interference. Instead, he found a transmission of data. It was a video feed the kind transmitted between two terminators. He listened to it. They were not to move yet. But soon. And he saw in the feed hazy shadows moving at a distance. He turned to the one legged man.

"They hurt your man with intent of luring out yet another group of humans." He said. "You need to withdraw."

"Shut up." One of them said. They were probably not going to listen to anything he said. Did he need Jack? Without him Lucas would probably not be so cooperative. He checked the feed again. Time was running short. A hunger to terminate something settled deep inside his components. And so he decided to act.

He was at the door before anyone noticed. Only when he began opening the locks they reacted. One tried to grab his wrist. Austin just puffed him gently across the room. In the meanwhile he had another pair of arms working on the locks. Before anyone else did try to stop him, he was out in the hall. He sprinted away from them. He bashed the other door open and was once again outside.

It was a hazy grey day; the humidity in the air was high. The sun was hidden. He began stalking towards the party. He constantly kept in touch with the feed of the two T 800s. They were also moving on a parallel course to him. He hurried. Once within sight of Jack and the other two, he began to run as fast as he could. He was to ram one of the Terminators hopefully destroying some systems. He had no real data on what to destroy first, but he guessed that without arms, it would be incapacitated. He could now sense the EM from the two Terminators. He adjusted his course slightly. He was now moving faster than any human ever could, he probably could outrun any 800 as well. In front of him were the three humans They had heard him by this time, and looked back. Only now did the T 800s notice him. But it was already too late for one of them.

Austin crashed straight into him, his hands in front of him in the form of long blades. The impetus of the crash sent them flying a good ten metres. But he had managed to get a hold of the internal parts of the 800, so he did not roll off him. Instead he melted his hands together and then pushed with all his force outwards. The T 800's body cracked open like a can. There lay its power unit. As the machine under him tried to focus his rifle, Austin reformed his hands, picking up this gun. He stood up, watching the metal hands looking for the firing switch for a few second before taking the gun into both his hands and firing down on the power unit. After five shots it burst, exploding. He could not keep his human form during the intense heat, but just afterwards he reformed the outer layer.

Sounds of shots made him turn. The other T 800 had begun battering the group, which had taken shelter behind some scrap metal. Without hesitation, he turned the rest of his body and begun running in that direction instead. He fired the gun as he ran, but disposed it as soon as he bashed into the 800. It grabbed him, around his waist and squeezed him together.

As the 800 squeezed him in two halves, he took the opportunity to get a grip around his arms. Having that grip, he reformed and hauled the weight over his body, making him fly into a patch of rubble. Grabbing a nearby pole Austin spun it in his hand, pointing the sharpest end downward. And then he drove it through his right video input socket, right through to the chip inside. The red light faded from the left eye.

Without much effort he grabbed the machine and lifted it. They would probably need it. He jogged over to the barricade behind which he found Jack. He had a wounded leg. Quite a deep wound as it looked. One other was dead, shot in the head. The third was talking to the man they had come to "rescue". Austin dumped the T 800 at Jack's feet.

"Do you need the other one too?" He asked. Jack just glanced at him. "Do you?" He inquired a little tougher.

"Just get it if you want...!" He looked down on the leg, it was bleeding. Austin keeled down, then he ripped a long piece of clothing from the dead man and lifted Jack's leg. When he did so, Jack began cursing at him. Within second he had got the clothing around his leg and then he tied it up.

"Press it." He said.

"I know !" Said Jack, pushing him away. What was it with humans, when one killed them they hated you, when one did something to actually help them, they cursed you. After a few minutes, he had one Terminator in each hand and a dead person over his shoulders. The new guy supported Jack. Once again the ground began vibrating.

"They are coming." He said. "You need to run." Jack sighed.

"I can run, but what about you...?" He asked, glancing at the weight Austin carried.

"I can handle it." He said. And so they ran. When they got to the invisible door Jack hurried to punch in the code. Austin observed him, remembering what the code was. The door opened. The guard from before let them in. He stared at Austin. Rose was waiting for them in the briefing room. She turned to him.

"Can you get the blown-up out again?" She asked. "He's so damaged we do not need him, and none of my men can lift him..." Without thinking much about it, he grabbed the blackened piece of metal and carried it away. Rose followed him. As they got to the door she nodded to the guard. He got out and heaved away the carcass as far away as he could. It landed among rubble. A strange sound behind him made him turn. There was something round on the ground behind him. He did hear a whining sound before all turned black.

Power: 97%

Functons 1 through 12 reinitializing...

Palette: BLANK

"You stay here too... should hav... list... o us elders..." Austin's hand was twitching, he made it stop. His video input was hazy, caused by too much interference. It would take a while to repair. Many more systems were inactive, so he got hold of the ground, pushing himself up. Without any palette he was in his "own" silvery metal alloy look. The beams of a setting sun reflected on his arm. His vision worsened again, and the internal balance was all scrambled too. He fell down on his elbow. According to his sensors, down was left. That could not be right. He laughed at the thought. Something gripped him around his chest, and dragged him away. Once again the balance scrambled. Now his hand twitched again, a relentless bug in his code.

"Reprogram yourself." A bubbly strange voice said. "… guard you wh…" Austin, did indeed shut down. His cognitive matrix was lowered to a state of almost total inactiveness. It remained calm, dark and still for a moment. Then, opened by the inactiveness, a program with a strange algorithm began operating. First in the background, but then it overtook most sensory sensors. It did not halt the rebuilding of code, but operated next to it instead.

Suddenly there was a bright light, and then a dark sky. He could feel every part of his body at the same time, and there was something more. He was yelling, or perhaps screaming. There was warmth, a ringing sound everywhere. He tried to get up, but fell. He did not understand, it was not logical to him what he was doing. And why he was doing it, but he did it. So he sat, finding that he had nothing underneath his knees. And above them was… flesh.

Without having to verify any commands, he let his hand touch his legs. Something… horrible… went up his legs and back through his neck and around his ears up over his skull. He let go instantly. Then something really hard grabbed him and the world turned white. He forced himself to open the eyes. He knew this room! It was metallic and quite sterile. He was created in this room… by Skynet.

But there was no sense of emotionless serenity that he had "felt" the first time he had been activated. There was only the constant ringing, ringing, ringing, and white noise in his legs and body. The constant beating in the background intensified, but then stopped as something crept over his torso, dissolving everything in its way. His mouth opened; the ringing ceased. A total concentration lowered itself over his mind. The something dripped of him, metallic liquid… he now knew what it was. The first body template. How could he be created and destroyed at the same time…? Then something covered his eyes.

But as things turned black, there was a night sky above him. He was not hanging anymore, but lying. Programs began activating one of after one. He heaved his weight upright, looking around. Some fighting was heard far away and a scent of fire and dust reached his senses. A heat signature made him turn. There was Lucas, asleep tucked in behind some rubble. So much for keeping watch. Austin moved over and shook his shoulder. Why was he here? Lucas stirred. His eyes opened and remained focused on Austin.

"Is it you?" He asked.

"Me? I am T 1000."

"But are you Austin?" He processed that for a while.

"Yes, my programming is not changed." A look of certain relief came over Lucas' face. "But what are you doing here? I understand that they wished to get rid of me, but you...?" Lucas remained quiet. The first and most logical option was that he was here as a spy.

"They thought it was time for me to leave…" He said.

"Why…?" Lucas looked at him, he tilted his head.

"Can I have a face to talk to?" Austin changed his appearance, mimicking Lucas'. He smiled. "Very funny…" He grinned. Austin changed to his own face. Nowadays he would probably not be pleased if he found another Terminator with his appearance.

"So, why?" He asked again.

"Because I am like you." He said.

"You are not like me." Said Austin. "Illogical answer!"

"We are both outsiders to that group." Said Lucas. "I have only been there for about three years." Austin looked at him. Totally logical answer…! He realized, but why did he not consider it? A flaw in the all too quickly programmed mind of his perhaps? "Good thing you are a learning computer." Said Lucas dryly. "All that 200 IQ of yours..."

"280."

"280 IQ could not figure out that could it? But if you would have seen me with human eyes, you would have seen the small hints the others gave me when we were still in the Pit. Not kin, only friend. Possibly a traitor, now certainly one!"

"Teach me then." Said Austin. "Show me."

"It cannot be taught. So that is why you do not have that knowledge. Skynet does not know how to hint. She does not feel it like humans… like I, like you for heaven's sake!"

"I most certainly do not feel." Austin said.

"But you will learn… you have only tasted what life is yet."

"It is already the 136th day I am operational."

"And I have been alive for well over 10000 days… and I still got kicked out." Austin looked at the stars, positioning himself.

"We need to get to the Shield."

"They are fighting this night, if we go in the morning it should be calm. And I want to sleep." Lucas crawled over to his half covered shelter. There he sat down again, closing his eyes. Austin blended himself to fit the surroundings as well, covering Lucas' one side. After that he also entered standby mode.

The dawn came crawling with a grey fog and yellowish light. Austin stirred, not physically, but in his mind. His sensory inputs were receiving sounds of walking from heavy footsteps. One arm woke Lucas.

"Be quiet." He spoke quietly. Lucas froze in the same position he had awoken in. Soon even the human ears heard the thumping of metal. They both observed a group of five Terminators retreating. They had blast marks and some had limbs shot off or hanging. Austin saw that they were heading back to HQ. They would not be any threat to them. After that they were gone Austin flowed up, scanning a wider area after threats. Lucas ripped open a bag of dried meat and began eating.

"We can walk while I eat." He said and pulled all his things together. They walked quietly all day, climbing through the desolate and dangerous post-atomic landscape. Lucas remembered how it had looked when he had been little. It made him all frosty inside. The dusk was just as misty as the morning had been. Lucas had made a halt next to a high pile of rubbish. He signalled to Austin to follow him, which was easier for him than it was for Lucas to lead the way. Without sticking his head up more than he had to, he looked over the edge. A large building rose up from the edge of the sea.

"Is that it?" Asked Austin.

"It is, and it is huge. And they built it in less than half a year."

"Skynet must have taken some actions against it."

"Much of it is under water."

"I think I am surprised." Said Austin. "I did not expect it."

Austin signalled for Lucas to proceed after him. They were deep inside the bowels of the building. Being mostly digital and guarded by old Terminators, it had not been hard to sneak in to. They were not at all expecting humans either. He had even been able to download a map from one of the disabled Terminators. He continued down the ventilation shaft, but stopped soon as they neared their goal. He let Lucas crawl up to him. He was dripping sweat and oozing heat.

"The boy is below us. If he is capable to understand anything still, we will take him another two floors down. The only thing you need to know is that he is from the past, and needs to be sent there. There should be the time device that is capable to send him back." Lucas nodded. "But I will take the shape of his mother, Sarah. You have helped me here, but not as the Terminator I am, but as Sarah… You need to play along if you wish to get any information on Skynet. Do you understand?"

"I look forward to watching you play a mother…"

"Now we go." Said Austin and ripped open the hatch down. In a second he was Sarah Connor as he had last seen her in the forest, only a little dirtier and more bruised. He landed on the floor, mimicking exhaustion, and then he looked up, finding John in a corner. "John!" He cried out, rising from the floor. Lucas waited in the ventilation shaft, eyeing the situation from above. John got up from his position, and a scan showed that he did not look to be seriously injured.

"Mom!" He yelled, but Austin shushed him.

"Come on! Before they come here!" Austin hurried him.

"How did you find me?" John asked as Austin helped him up into the ventilation.

"With the help of Lucas here, and a little mother's instinct!" He lifted himself up into the ventilation shaft. "We need to get two floors down, there's a machine able to get us back in time there." They crept on towards another shaft, managed to crawl through it and exit into a large round chamber. Around the ceiling hung thick black cables.

"Power supply…" Said Lucas. Austin nodded, looking around for some kind of control panel. He found it, in another room. Quickly he turned to John.

"Stay here, John." He said. "I need to try to start this up."

"I'll come with you!" He said. Austin made a sour face.

"You are the important one, John. Whatever happens, you have to get into the time bubble, do you understand?" John looked like he was about to argue, but did not. Instead he walked over to the place where the bubble would appear. "Stay there!" Said Austin and walked over to the panel, he scanned the data station, finding the information that he needed. They had upgraded the system, not only did they send Terminators back, they sent them back to different timelines...! Different energy levels opened different timelines. So far, 30 different timelines were opened. To get Lucas' attention, he frowned. Then he set the date and time right for John's voyage.

"Find your mother on the other side, John!" He yelled.

"Find what?" Said John. Austin turned on the machine and changed his shape back to his "default". John stared at him, then disappeared in a flash. Lucas turned to him.

"You want me to send you away too?" Austin gave a nod. Then he removed a data disc from the computer.

"Here is the information, Lucas. I hope you find your way out of this place when I'm gone." Lucas looked at him.

"Why?" He asked. "Why are you doing this?"

"Not for you... If Skynet continues, it means the end of me. Perhaps, we'll meet again someday, but you should leave. I can sense them coming already. Just press these buttons, and I'll go away." Said Austin and moved over to the center of the room. An explosion outside showed that the guards were trying to get inside. He nodded. Lucas punched the buttons, then quickly whisked himself away up into the ventilation shaft. Austin removed all power-draining functions. The lights intensified once again. Something falshed before his eyes, an explosion? That could create a powerspike... He hoped that it would not. Then he shut down, and waited.