And... Here it is, the Born to Fight finale! Hope you enjoy!
Born to Fight
April 21, 2029 – 3:22pm
Blair Williams had heard the news as soon as she had touched down. The internet was back up and running, with a single message displayed on every computer screen across the globe:
IT IS FINISHED.
Skynet was defeated.
At first she felt the immense and unsurpassable relief, the ultimate joy that one takes in ultimate victory. And then the realization came. They were at the brink of a new civilization, a new world. For pretty much her entire life, she'd been at war, living underground, fighting the machines.
Now… there was simply hope.
With a broad grin on her face, she hurried through the throng of people towards John, suddenly realizing that something was wrong. Why weren't they celebrating? Hadn't they heard the news too? The closer she got to Connor's location, the more quiet everyone seemed to be. An uneasy feeling settled in her gut and she quickened her pace through the crowd.
Everyone seemed to have scattered from one central location, keeping a wide radius. But inside that radius was John Connor, cradling the motionless body of Allison Young. Blair felt sick to her stomach.
Not John… not again… Hasn't he lost enough already?
She approached him hesitantly but was suddenly at a loss for words. What do you say to someone who had physically lost everything but his own life? She couldn't imagine how he was still functioning. There was only so much loss one person could take.
Something beeped on the ground and she saw that it was John's radio, lying in the dust a few feet away from him. She clicked it on, hearing communication tech Yelkov's excited voice streaming out.
"General!" he exclaimed. "I have a battle wound!"
Blair hesitated. "John is… busy right now. I'm sorry, Yelkov."
"Oh," Yelkov said, his voice appearing hurt.
"It's not you," she was quick to reassure him. "I'm sure he'd love to talk but… he's just lost a friend and he… he needs time." More than time. John Connor needed more than anyone knew to give.
Yelkov seemed to understand. "I see. Tell him zat we'll be zere for him in spirit."
"I will," she agreed, signing off. She bit her lip as she looked back at John. "Hey… John-."
He cut her off abruptly. "Leave me alone, Blair."
Under normal circumstances, she would have taken offense at the rude tone. Now, she could understand it. She nodded slowly before rising. It wasn't as if there was anything she could do for him right now anyway.
John Connor needed to grieve.
Because he was done with the fight.
SRD – Deep Ocean
April 21, 2029
Cody stepped into the computer lab, seeing Savannah and John Henry inside. Savannah looked overjoyed and relieved. John Henry was still plugged in, but he seemed more like himself. Savannah looked over as soon as Cody entered.
"It's over," she breathed. "He did it."
Cody ran over and embraced her, clutching her tightly. There were no words for a moment like this. It was a day everyone in the world had longed for but never believed would come.
The day of salvation.
He heard methodical footsteps approaching and spun to see Weaver standing in the doorway, a pleasant yet eerie smile on her face.
"Ms. Weaver," John Henry spoke up with a child-like grin. "It is finished."
Weaver smiled. "Well done, John Henry. That's my boy."
Cody narrowed his eyebrows. "I thought you're supposed to be helping Connor," he asked her.
"The fighting is over," Weaver replied simply. "John Connor is preoccupied. I came to see our boy."
"Your boy," Cody murmured. As weird as it was, they all owed a lot to Weaver and John Henry. "So wait…" he began. "John Henry is now Skynet?"
"Cybernet," Weaver corrected. "What Skynet was intended to be."
"So he's in the internet," Cody responded. "Everywhere. He can see… everything?"
Kinda spooky, Cody thought. But then he glanced over at Savannah. She trusted John Henry with her life… and with good reason. And if Savannah trusted him, that was good enough for Cody. He redirected his gaze to Weaver.
"So what do we do now?"
"Why don't you ask John Henry?" came her reply.
Cody raised an eyebrow and addressed the new Cybernet. "John Henry?"
"We will begin rebuilding," he responded seriously. "Both machine and human. I must make a broadcast to the entire world and let them know."
"Do what you need to, John Henry," Weaver stated.
Cody opened his mouth to speak, but Weaver cut him off, her words sickly sweet. "Mr. Phillips, there will be a time for questions later. Right now, we need to let John Henry do his job."
"Which is what?"
"He's going to change the world."
Lauren Fields stepped out of her makeshift medical tent, out into the bright light of the sun. Into a new day, a new era in the rest of their lives. She felt more alive than ever before. He'd done it. John Connor had done it… with the help of his friends and John Henry and Weaver, he had led mankind to victory. She needed to find him, to thank him personally. To remind him that she'd always believed in him.
But when she found him, there was no celebrating. There was only John Connor next to a pile of rubble, cradling someone's body in his arms. Lauren saw pilot Blair Williams moving away from Connor, shaking her head slowly, her face stricken with sorrow.
And as Lauren drew closer, she caught a glimpse of the person John Connor was holding. She recognized that hair, that beautiful flowing hair. She circled around, fighting back the emotions. It couldn't be… it couldn't really be –
Lauren's hand flew to her mouth and she felt the tears spring instantly into her eyes. Not Allison… not again…
She dropped down next to John and Allison, her fingers fumbling for the first aid kit, though her mind seemed to know it was hopeless.
"Don't bother." John had spoken the words but she would never have recognized his voice. It was broken, haunted…
"It's too late," he added quietly.
Lauren heard a stifled cry, the sobbing behind her and she turned to see her sister staring at Allison, her face pale and tears streaming down her face. Lauren quickly rose and pulled Sydney into a tight hug, feeling the sobs that racked her sister's body. Sydney had grown up with Allison, had been raised alongside her like a sister. And Lauren had cared for them both. They'd both lost a loved one when she died the first time and it had seemed like a miracle when she had returned.
To see her die again… it was something no one should ever have to face.
Lauren heard Nathan's overly cheerful voice and quickly snapped her head over to see him approaching triumphantly. John had never reacted to his presence.
As soon as Nathan saw Allison in John's arm, his smile faded instantaneously. Fighting back tears of her own, Lauren made her way over, biting her lip to compose herself as she saw the horror on Nathan's face.
Lauren couldn't even form the words. She simply shook her head, tears still stinging her cheeks. Nathan looked utterly dejected and his eyes seemed to lock on John with a immense sympathy. "Poor kid."
A voice crackled over her radio and Lauren pulled it out, recognizing John Henry's voice coming over the line. She could see Nathan fumbling with his own headset, listening to the same thing she was, and she could hear that message echoing over the radios all around her. John Henry must be doing a universal broadcast.
"By now I'm sure you are aware that my brother has been destroyed," John Henry began solemnly.
Nathan raised a questioning eyebrow. "His brother?"
"Skynet," Lauren explained briefly.
"Wow," Nathan mused. "One big twisted-up family."
John Henry's voice continued, "I have taken Skynet's place as Cybernet. The internet. We will begin rebuilding the world – together. Both machine and man…"
John hadn't moved from his spot, not even when John Henry had transmitted his message to everyone in the world, explaining about how they needed to work together and rebuild. Explaining how he was not Cybernet – the good, alternate and opposite of Skynet.
The good brother.
"Savannah asked me what it's like being Cybernet. What I can see in there. I told her… I see everything."
John felt the words pierce through his heart and he sucked in his breath. I saw everything. His face contorted in grief. Cameron… Everything was gone, lost. Cameron, Allison, everyone.
Kyle's voice rose in his mind: There's only so much pain one person can take.
John Connor had reached that point. He'd gone beyond it, to the edge, the max. There was nothing left.
Future You knows what it's like to lose people you love. It happens to him too.
We lose everybody we love.
His face twisted. "What more can be taken away from me?" he said bitterly to no one in particular. He saw Nathan and Lauren look over, both their faces showing concern.
But John Connor no longer cared. He stood up coldly and started away from Allison's body. There was nothing left to live for. Both Cameron and Allison were dead.
And John Connor had died with them.
Death Valley Outpost
Blair hadn't known Allison well, but she still felt connected to the girl. Maybe it was because of John's desperate search to find her when she'd been captured. Maybe it was because they'd arrived too late, and Blair had seen a suffering John clutch her body tightly with tears streaming down his face.
She knew what John was feeling. She'd felt it when she'd lost Marcus, when Marcus had sacrificed himself for her, to give her life. There was no greater love than that.
This time, as she stood at the funeral site where Allison and several others were being buried, John wasn't leading the proceedings. James Ellison had taken the job this time. At first Blair thought John hadn't even shown up, but then she spotted him, in the back, his eyes never leaving the grave, his face completely still, his eyes haunted.
He hadn't wanted to be here again. He hadn't wanted to go through that pain again, and yet here he was, honoring her memory. As soon as the proceedings were over, he turned to leave briskly but she ran to catch him.
"Connor, wait!" she protested.
He turned and she saw it in his eyes. It wasn't grief, not anymore. It was confusion. Loneliness and emptiness, as if he didn't know what to do next.
"I know what it's like, John," she said gently. "Marcus sacrificed his life for me too, remember? But don't you remember what you said about sacrifices? It's the ultimate act of love. Both from Marcus and from Allison."
He looked away. "You don't understand."
"Yes, I do," she protested. "We've all lost, Connor."
"Not like I have," he said. It wasn't spiteful, not a ploy to garner attention or sympathy. It was merely fact. "I don't think anyone on earth has lost as much as I have." His face contorted into an expression of pain. "I've lost everything."
Her heart broke for him. "Not everything," she said softly. "You still have us. I'll still be here for you, John. Just like you were always there for me."
He remained silent, not looking at her and her face fell. "If there's anything you need… all you have to do is ask."
She waited a few seconds, just to see if he would change his mind, but he made no sound. So she left. He needed time, and understanding, and compassion.
But he'd pull through it.
Because he was John Connor.
Three Months Later...
Los Angeles, California
Three months had passed. John Henry had taken Skynet's place as the new Cybernet, the new internet. Logan had been the frontrunner for starting the rebuilding process. The Fields sisters were still serving in the medical field. Nathan Reynolds had made a run up to the space station and brought back the rest of the stranded astronauts. Machines and humans had begun to co-exist in peace. It was the start of a new age.
Terminators and humans alike had begun the rebuilding process. It would take years, decades to clean up the entire world, but they had to start somewhere.
He should be happy seeing the machines and humans working in unison, talking and laughing amongst each other. No more suspicious looks or evil glares. No more condemning talk about how they were nothing but unfeeling machines, that they were working for Skynet.
It was over.
And he should be happy.
Already, slowly but surely, the world was being rebuilt.
But not John Connor's heart.
No one should have to attend two funerals for the same person. The first time, he had led the proceedings, but this time he could barely make himself attend, afraid he would breakdown at experiencing it a second time.
But it wasn't just Allison. It was everyone. His mother, Kyle, Derek, Riley, Jesse and Cameron… Allison had been the last link to his past and now it was official. He'd lost everything. But he kept going, going on as if in a daze. An unfeeling, unliving existence that he hated, yet had no power to correct. He should feel happy, like everyone else.
They were free of Skynet, free to go outside and be in the sunlight and not have to worry about getting shot down. Skynet's machines were still out there, but without orders from Skynet, they had resorted to their default mission: self preservation. Hunting parties were still being led by Perry and Kristin Hamilton to locate and take down the remainder of Skynet followers. He'd ordered Weaver to destroy the remaining TDE so that none of the remaining Skynet Terminators would be able to go back and attempt to change anything.
Everyone else seemed to be experiencing true joy for the first time in years, decades even. They were starting new lives. Cody, Savannah, Ellison, Nathan, Blair… all the friends he'd had were moving on without him. Because he couldn't move on with them.
He had ceased to exist. Like a shadow, like a ghost walking among them. They all still remembered him, still respected him. Anyone he passed gave him a broad smile and a salute which he never returned. They may have even expressed concern about him, but it would soon be replaced by the eagerness to begin anew. They all kept going about their lives, rebuilding and living. As if nothing important had happened.
Because nothing important did.
It didn't even matter to him anymore. For once in his life, John Connor no longer cared about his future. All he wanted was to stay rooted in the past. Everything was better in the past. His whole life had been preparation for the future, for this moment in time. And now that it was over…
There was no place for him here in this new future.
The Resistance may have won the war.
But John Connor had lost.
Cameron had been right. Being John Connor can be lonely.
Sam whimpered at his side, as if wanting to remind John that his unspoken thought wasn't entirely true. There was one who didn't treat him like a shadow, a legend to be revered and nothing else.
Sam had never left his side. In fact, he was the only one remaining who hadn't. Guess that proves it, he thought ironically. Dogs are man's best friend.
But those words only served to drive a spike of pain through his heart. Dogs – Sam, at least – had been machine's best friend too. One machine.
And not really a machine at all.
His radio clicked on and for a moment John was surprised to see that anyone still remembered he existed. The flash of hope faded when he heard Weaver's voice. She would never contact him unless she needed something. It was how she'd always been. It just so happened that in the past, her needs often lined up with his, making them perfect partners.
But he'd always been her pawn.
"We would like you to come to Depot II," she said. Funny, he thought. It seemed more like a request than an order, as it usually was.
"Why?" Even though he asked the question, it sounded hollow. He would go anyway, whether she answered him or not. Because he had nothing else to do. Nothing else to live for.
"John Henry and I need your help with something."
Ah, John thought smugly. So she did need something. Figured. "On my way."
En Route to Depot II
It was much easier traveling when one didn't have to worry about stray HKs and Triple 8 patrols. Already sections of a few major highways had been cleared, which made the going a lot faster too.
Sam, a true dog at heart, had his head stuck out the window, tongue lolling out, looking supremely content. John resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He finally arrived at Depot II and entered the empty bunker, wondering where John Henry and Weaver would be.
John Henry – his body at least – would have to be hooked up to a computer in order for him to speak, so John headed there first, Sam hugging his heels. Sure enough, inside was John Henry, plugged into the supercomputer via umbilical cord.
"Where's Savannah?" John asked.
"She and Cody are out helping with the rebuilding effort," he replied.
John nodded once, still feeling out of place and confused. "So why'd you move your body here?"
"Because you would be here."
John crossed his arms. "Would you stop playing games."
John Henry frowned slightly before pulling the umbilical cord from his head and standing up. John's eyebrows narrowed.
"Don't you need to stay hooked up to that thing?"
"My chip is still functioning," John Henry replied. "I will simply not have access to the internet."
"But you're Cybernet now," John protested. "Aren't you supposed to always be in there, monitoring things and such?"
"This is important," John Henry replied solemnly.
John lapsed into silence as he followed John Henry through the hallways, past his old quarters and into the small dead end hallway where the biometric scanner for the TDE room was.
"What is this?" he asked.
"Access the lock," John Henry replied.
Still frowning, John leaned forward and let the machine scan his eyes, hearing the door click open. He pushed inside, seeing that the TDE was still there, intact with Weaver standing inside the inner chamber.
John pushed through the door into the inner chamber, staring at her accusingly. "What is this?" he demanded. "You were supposed to destroy the time machine!"
Weaver merely smiled mysteriously. "Do you remember when Cameron left for the past?"
The question hit him like a knife in the gut and he felt his throat clench. Stupid, stupid question. "Of course."
"Do you know what year she was sent to?"
Where was this going? "Um, yeah. 1999."
"Incorrect," Weaver replied. "She was sent to 1989."
Confusion flashed across his face. "What? No… no, that's impossible. I set it myself…"
"But she doublechecked it," Weaver stated.
His mind blanked as he recalled that moment. "She…she switched it? But.. why?" What would possess her to go against him like that?
"I told her to."
"You told her to?" he repeated, stunned. A new worry began to surface. "So she won't be there to save me from Cromartie?"
"She'll be there," Weaver replied. "She just has ten years to spare."
The breath left his lungs as he finally realized what was going on. "…10…years…" They hadn't destroyed the Time machine like he'd ordered. They hadn't sent Cameron to the correct time like he'd ordered.
They'd done so much more.
He felt overwhelmed, suddenly unable to draw in a breath.
John Henry was smiling now, cheerful as always and this time, John actually could feel some of the joy on his own face.
"You helped bring peace to our species," John Henry said solemnly. "You helped us and now we want to help you. We are giving you ten years. Ten years to live."
It was so surreal, so insane! Like something out of his wildest dreams. The chance to live. With Cameron.
"You will have to remain off the grid, of course," Weaver added, ever the voice of logical reason. "No contact with any old friends or family. You can't risk disrupting the timeline. But it's ten years with her."
John realized the extent of their gift. They were giving him a life. Something in return for bringing peace. He would have ten years with Cameron before she had to protect his younger self. Ten years to live.
John blinked rapidly, glancing down and remembering Sam who still sat obediently at his feet. "And Sam?" He questioned. "Can he go through?"
"He is organic," John Henry confirmed.
John allowed himself to smile down at his dog. She'll be happy to see you. He looked back up at Weaver and John Henry with a newfound respect and gratitude. "I don't know how to thank you."
"You already did," Weaver responded. And she smiled, something he didn't think he'd ever truly seen before. Programmed or not, it seemed genuine.
"John Henry," she began. "Prepare the time displacement field."
John Henry was already at the control panel and Weaver backed away out of the ring as the blue lights began to crackle. John felt a thrill of excitement shoot through his entire body. He held tightly onto the ragged leather collar around Sam's next as the dog began whining nervously.
John crouched down next to the dog who licked his face, still appearing jittery. "It's okay, Sam," John said, a genuine smile stretching across his face. "We're going home."
He saw the blue light flash and Weaver and John Henry were no longer visible. Instead, he felt immense pain. He heard Kyle's voice in his mind, urging him to remain strong: Pain can be controlled. You just disconnect it.
But he didn't need to disconnect it. He embraced it. Because that pain would get him the one thing he never had dreamed possible.
Another life with Cameron.
Darkness surrounded him and he slowly lifted his head, feeling the cold concrete on the ground. Sam was shaking now, whimpering, but at least his fur had stayed on.
John shivered slightly from the cool breeze, slowly rising to his feet and wincing slightly. He was in an alley, somewhere. His eyes scanned the surroundings until they landed on the trash can sitting just up ahead.
He frowned in confusion, ignoring the cold as he hurried up and saw a complete change of clothes sitting on the top, folded up into a perfectly neat pile. He quickly started to put it on, finding it be exactly his size.
Someone had been expecting him.
Sam jerked free of John's hold, barking excitedly as he took off down the alley toward the shadows.
"Sam, wait!" John shouted. He quickly shrugged into the jacket and started after his dog. Sam was right up ahead, his tail wagging furiously as he jumped up at a dark figure standing up ahead.
"Sam! Sam…" John's voice trailed off when the figure stepped out of the shadows. He had known, unconsciously he had known who it was.
"Cameron…" her name was torn from his throat in a whisper and he blinked tears from his eyes. His legs seemed to move without him telling them to and he rushed over to her, kissing her desperately with nearly two years of pent up passion.
He finally broke away, breathing heavily but feeling more alive than he ever had before. Cameron's smile only made his spirit soar higher.
"John… you're here."
He felt like collapsing from exhaustion and ultimate relief. "Cameron…I've missed you."
"I just left."
"You're the lucky one," he said. His face twisted. "Two years, Cameron. Two years without you."
"It's over," he whispered. It brought immense relief to say it out loud, so that she would know that all they'd sacrificed had not been in vain. "It's over, Cameron. We won."
"Skynet is defeated?"
"Yes. We saved the future. They've already begun rebuilding."
"You came back."
"Of course," he replied, giving her a crooked smile. "I said I'd always come for you. I'd done my job. I led the humans to victory, but I don't have a place in their new world. I've lost everyone. My mother, Kyle, Derek, Allison, you. There's nothing left for me there."
"Weaver told me this would happen," Cameron explained. "She told me to set a new date and that you would be following. I hadn't understood her at the time."
It was a heck of a risk for Cameron, he realized. If Weaver had been lying or trying to manipulate events, she would have been in a lull for ten years, waiting for the right time to save young John from Cromartie. But she'd taken the chance, because she'd wanted to be with him again.
"What happens after that?" he asked. "After the ten years? When you join… me. Past-Me."
"You can follow us," she replied. "In the shadows. I'll come see you at night, when Past-John is asleep."
Of course. It all made sense now. That was what she had done at night, she'd come to visit him. And it made sense. She didn't need to sleep, and John was so used to the future's nocturnal life that he would probably still sleep during the day and be re-energized at night. So he would be with her… There was no more running. No more fighting. Just him and Cameron. And the fate that they made. He'd remain with her right up until the point where Past-John would travel to the future.
"Then what happens?" he wondered aloud. "What happened in the original timeline?"
"I don't know," she replied evenly. "You scrubbed my memories remember?"
But suddenly he knew. He knew exactly what would happen. And everything made sense.
Once Cameron gave her chip to John Henry, once his past self jumped to the future, he would meet his mother again. The stranger that Sarah had talked about in her messages, the one who had given her critical knowledge about Skynet. The one who had told her that Skynet I would give birth to Skynet II, which was how she knew to prepare for that one too. The shadowy figure in the background that Sarah had spoken of with love and tenderness. Now he realized.
It was me.
He had been reunited with his mother, had been with her through Judgment Day, had helped her prepare, helped her fight. He may even have been there with her at the end.
He clutched Cameron's hand tightly, soaking in her radiant smile. For now, they were together. He would still be with her for a long while, live his life. And after that, he would meet his mother again. And he would fight once more.
Because he was John Connor. And this was what he was meant to do.
This was his fate.
He was born to fight.