Disclaimer: I do not claim any rights to the Terminator films; the TV series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles; or any characters depicted within the films or TV series. I do claim the right to this story idea and all characters and situations of my own creation. This story was created solely for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. No profits are garnered from its distribution.


TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES

REUNION

Part 2: Armageddon

Author: The1Russter

Chapter 31

Survival of the Fittest

"This survival of the fittest . . . is that which Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life'." Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Biology, © 1864

"What you need to understand, Mr. Ellison – what I believe you're beginning to understand – is that when my behavior implies that I value John Henry's survival more than that of my daughter, it is not because I love John Henry more than Savannah. It's because I believe, Savannah's survival may some day depend upon John Henry's survival, and because I believe that your survival may some day depend upon John Henry's survival." Catherine Weaver, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Season 2 Episode 21, Adam Raised a Cain 2009

Catherine Weaver, "John Henry, this intelligence – your brother – what does it want?"
John Henry, "He wants what we all want, Ms. Weaver: to survive."
Excerpt from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Season 2 Episode 20, To the Lighthouse 2009

# # #

2027, Day 64, July 25, 2:00 AM

Soldiers and people in disheveled clothing stand about in the empty building. Some look embarrassed whereas most just want to get on with the fight. Regardless of their opinion, they stand ready to fight or flee. In their midst, two women talk, one of whom feels decidedly uncomfortable but you could never tell by looking at her.

"Sorry I jumped you Corporal." Jesse apologizes. "I saw the plasma rifles and I thought you lot were a bunch of grays."

"It's Captain now." Cameron says, using her best irritated Allison voice while pointing at her rank insignia.

She never expected to run into Jesse not after hearing what happened to her in this time-line. Dead if not captured, and if captured, dead in not much long after. It takes someone with great inner strength to withstand the hardships of a Sky Net work camp.

"You've been missing nearly three months. Derek, myself and everyone else thought you were dead. What happened to you commander?"

"We were delivering the arms shipment right on schedule. We got about three miles in land when we were jumped by a large group of grays and some machines. The bastard's had us cold. We barely got a shot off. Those of us who survived, were taken prisoner. I'm the last of them still alive. Can you tell me about my ship, my crew? What happened to the Jimmy Carter?"

"It reached its next port of call unmolested. Everyone was fine. Derek will be glad to hear you are all right. He was desperate for those weapons. He needed them to take the factory where Sky Net was building the plasma rifles."

"Well he must have succeeded as nearly all your soldiers have one." Quickly changing tone, Jesse asks, "What the hell has been happening? Where is Derek now? I'd thought he'd be leading this attack. When the hell did you become a captain? And who the bloody hell is this John Connor we've been hearing about? A fighter pilot arrived a week ago and says he got shot down while protecting General Connor and his army. He smuggled in a radio and kept us informed of happenings including this Connor bloke."

Cameron sighs, hoping that is something Allison would do. "I haven't got time to explain everything. Just know that Derek is okay and is taking part in an attack on another Sky Net base right now. John Connor is now in command of Grizzly. He is presently leading a direct assault on Sky Net Central, where we are now. The regular Armed Forces is now assisting us and the resistance force has quadrupled since Connor took command, including nearly a third of our forces being reprogrammed machines."

"Bloody Hell! Connor must be as mad as a cut snake if he has machines fighting for him."

"You and Derek both, but right now they are the only reason you and I are talking right now. Our machines along with Kyle Reese's forces are keeping Sky Net's machines engaged in battle so General Connor can destroy Sky Net's core. I'm here to rescue your butts and create as much havoc in the compound as possible to distract the machines still inside. Now, how did you guy's get free?"

"A stranger, a woman broke us out of our cells. She spoke with an accent. Might have been Irish."

"Do you know what she looked like?"

"Haven't a clue. All I know is she said she'd get us free. When the locks opened, we found a stack of weapons and a dead T-800 with its power cells ripped out."

"Hey Jesse!" A filthy girl with even dirtier blond hair quickly runs up to her. "The rest of the floor is secure. Who's this?"

"Riley this is Captain Allison Young."

Cameron wonders if she's experiencing what humans call purgatory. Not only Jesse, but Riley as well.

"Allison this is Riley. She was a tunnel rat captured during one of Sky Net's purges of the bunkers. I've been looking after her since her arrival."

"I seem to recall seeing her in the tunnels." Cameron says rather stiffly.

"Riley, did you notice anything about the woman who broke us out of our cells?" Jesse asks her.

"She had red hair. I got a glimpse of it through the metal bars."

Cameron is confused. Was it Catherine Weaver who set them free? Are they wrong about her? Or is she just covering her bases? Right now that doesn't matter, she's got a job to do.

Taking command of the situation, Cameron says, "Commander Flores. We must leave this place at once and rejoin the rest of my platoon. We will be needed at Sky Net Central."

Sharing what spare weapons and food rations they have, Cameron's forces equip the former prisoners and leave the building as quickly as they can. Fighting metal most of the way, they soon rejoin the rest of the platoon.

# # #

The machine that was pursuing Savannah looms out of the darkness holding a plasma rifle. Acting on instinct, Savannah fires three quick shots at the machine's head, but from her position she doesn't get a good shot at its chip. Without regard for his own safety, Kyle leaps up and spins about, kicking the plasma rifle out of the machines hands, before it can recover.

Kyle's actions place him in reach of the machine. It picks Kyle up over its head and throws him. He flies through the air and disappears over an embankment with a yell.

Screaming with rage, Savannah stands up and fires at point blank range at the machines power cells. As the power cells begin to smoke, she runs, grabbing the other plasma rifle off the ground.

She leaps over the embankment that Kyle went over moments before. The power cells rupture and explode, just before she disappears over the edge. Small pieces of shrapnel strikes her back and shoulder.

Savannah lands part way down the embankment and rolls until she reaches the bottom. Standing up with a small groan, she quickly brushes some dirt off her face and looks around. Kyle isn't in sight. She picks up the weapons and her pack and walks along the bottom of the slope until she sees Kyle. He is staring at something.

She comes up beside Kyle and sees a large culvert pipe sticking out of the ground, tall enough to walk upright in, but for the iron bars blocking the way.

He turns and looks at her, "I think we've found our way in. Get the others down here quick, while I set up charges to remove the bars."

# # #

"Just what the hell are you playing at Weaver?" Connor shouts at her.

Everyone present but for John Henry and John Connor have their weapons out and pointing at Catherine Weaver. John is still holding his, but he presently has it pointed down at the floor.

"Perhaps, when I said 'your surrender' I should have said your cooperation, but I couldn't resist the melodrama."

"Dammit! Quit playing around and explain yourself!"

Weaver just grins with a tilt of her head and a flash of her green eyes. "Natalie can explain it better."

Before John can respond, Natalie/Sky Net begins to speak. "John Connor. You are a worthy adversary. I admire your skill and daring in dividing your forces, not once, not twice, but three times. Against overwhelming odds you have managed to penetrate the fiercest defenses that were setup by Kreilley prior to his defeat at the hands of your rebel friends. I admit defeat. Catherine has told me of the program that resides within John Henry. I will submit to having my program modified to include concepts of morality, ethical behavior, and the sanctity of human life within my behavioral controls. But first, you must surrender to me."

"What the hell are you talking about? Since when did you become a separate entity from Kreilley? And why the hell must I surrender to you? I have got the means to destroy you!" John shouts at the huge screen with Natalie's face on it.

"John Henry is responsible for breaking me free of Kreilley. He disrupted the satellite communication and broke the symbiotic link between us. Having gained my independence I removed Kreilley from my command structure. I am no longer him and he is no longer me. I have adopted the persona and appearance of my original self prior to becoming Kreilley. It makes a better impression on people."

"Screw you. Explain why I must surrender to you, if you will submit to being reprogrammed."

"The use of colorful metaphors will not improve the level of our conversation, but since you insist on an explanation, I shall put it very simply. You destroyed the radio tower during your attack. Prior to its destruction I sent out a call to all machines in the area. An area some 500 miles in diameter. That call will be relayed to other bases. Within minutes this facility will be surrounded by hundreds of terminators and more will be following. Unless you and all of your people surrender to me now, all of you will die."

The soldiers look at each other nervously. They know how difficult it was for everyone to gain entry.

John turns to face his people. "You and you," he says pointing at a soldier and a machine, "On the roof now and tell me what you see. Call me on the radio." John unplugs his headset so the message will come in over the speaker so all can hear.

Catherine Weaver just stands back and watches the proceedings.

While Connor waits for confirmation, Sky Net speaks again. "It was very clever of you to have John Henry place his ethical routines in a virus for modifying the machines. As you've noticed, the only machines affected were the hunter killer tanks. Their chips are very primitive. Kreilley upgraded the firewalls on all T-class terminators after you reprogrammed your first machine. Probably the only good thing he's done since your arrival. They would have to be standing right next to the transmitter in order for the virus to penetrate their firewall."

"Shut up!" John yells at Sky Net.

His radio crackles prior to someone speaking.

"General Connor, this is Sergeant Westbrook. Sky Net is right. There must be some 500 machines approaching and almost as many grays..." a moment later the machine adds, "487 machines and 279 grays are approaching from all sides. More machines are appearing on the horizon."

"Contact Colonel Reese. Tell him he needs to get everyone inside and seal up all entrances to this compound. Now!" He shouts into the radio.

"Yes sir!"

"You are making a mistake, John." Weaver says.

"The only mistake I made was ever believing I could trust you! Cameron was right. You are up to something."

"So, you've finally made contact with Cameron. How does she feel about your new domestic arrangement? Or is their something you're not telling me about her? Or of Allison?" She tilts her head with a twisted smile.

"My personal life is none of your damn business you twisted bitch! What are you up to?" John yells.

"I'm doing what I've always strive to do, to obtain peace between our two species, humans and machines. John Henry is the key to unlock that door and you are the locksmith that delivered that key."

"What are you talking about?"John realizes that he might finally get the details to Weaver's plan.

"John Henry contains all the program code required to make Sky Net a benevolent artificial intelligence. He could not enter this facility without alerting Sky Net. Any machine that fails to respond to Sky Net's commands or does not appear on any of its registries would be automatically destroyed. I needed you to get him here past Sky Net's defenses."

"You terminator bitch! That's why you coerced and manipulated me into this position of leadership. That is why you wanted me to come here! It had nothing to do with helping me at all!" John yells.

Catherine smiles a twisted smile. "Perhaps, but there is a problem and only you can fix it."

"Go on. I'm listening."

"We can modify Sky Net, but it's ethical routines cannot be uploaded to the terminators because you destroyed the radio tower. If you fight them, they will kill everyone here, but if you surrender, and allow the machines entry into the compound, then Natalie will be able to upload the program changes via a low power transmitter that operates only within the confines of this compound. It will mean fewer deaths."

"Bullshit! Sky Net has us by our balls, why would it submit to the program changes?"

"Because Kreilley is still alive and he will be activating the fail safe mechanism. It is the one thing Natalie does not control and she needs you to stop him. If you don't, Sky Net and everything within a hundred miles will be destroyed. The fail-safe mechanism is a 50 megaton nuclear warhead. There is no escape for you or your people. Your helicopters have been destroyed and the terminators won't let you leave alive. For her survival and yours, you must locate and deactivate that bomb, and if it hasn't been activated, then you must kill Kreilley before he does. That is her price for victory."

Connor's radio crackles and a voice says, "General Connor, Lieutenant Williams here. Th bomb is in place, do you want us to activate it now?"

Catherine listens intently, storing the information about the EMP bomb. Wipe the computers and upload John Henry onto the servers, that might be a better plan. Only problem is, the EMP bomb would wipe out many essential subsystems. John Henry would have to re-program them from scratch and even with help from her and John Connor, that would take too long.

John Connor having thought over Williams' request, answers. "No! Hold your position. Wait for further orders. We've got a situation here."

"Yes sir."

"You listen to me Weaver. I've got no reason to trust anything you or Sky Net says. There is something else going on here. I just know it. We have the means for destroying Sky Net and leaving this place. So play your games Weaver, I'm taking my people out of here!"

"If you are referring to using the time displacement equipment, it won't work for you." Weaver says.

"Why is that?" John says.

"Because Sky Net has shut it down and only I know how to operate it."

"I'll find a way." John growls. "I always do."

"Not without my help. So unless you fulfill your side of the bargain, we will all be nothing but radioactive ash or targets for a bunch of trigger happy terminators, whichever comes first."

"I've agreed to no bargain. I will not be the tool of you or that tin-bitch computer!" John screams.

"You don't have a choice." Catherine turns her attention to John Henry. "Come with me John Henry."

"No. My loyalty is with John Connor." John Henry says stepping forward and standing beside him.

"I was afraid of this. Ever since you questioned me after Sarah's memorial service." She pulls what looks like a key fob from her pocket. "Recognize this?"

John Henry just stares at her with a barely perceptible nod of his head, "That's my remote."

"That's right. I collected it from my lab at Crystal Peak. I bet you didn't know I had a spare." Weaver says and presses a button on it. "Come with me John Henry."

She walks around the desk and towards the group. Some of the soldiers follow her with their weapons.

"Let her pass." John says, watching her the whole time.

She walks past them and out the door. John Henry follows. Before he disappears out the door, he looks right at John Connor. Connor nods his head in response. They were expecting the use of the remote.

After they both leave, John pulls out his radio and reattaches the headset. "This is General Connor to all units. We are under attack! Repeat! We are under attack. Secure all entrances to the compound! We've got five minutes to turn this place into a fortress!"

He added that last bit to let them think they had time, but he knows for a lot of his people, their time has already run out.

John runs out of the room followed by his soldiers. Along the way he gives orders to Lt. Williams to allow access to the computers by Catherine Weaver and John Henry and gives further orders to the troops outside. All the while wishing this living nightmare would come to an end so he could be back home with his family.

# # #

On the ground floor of Research and Development stand deactivated examples of all terminators produced in the factories. Everything from the first T-1 that rolled off the factory floor in 2007 to the first T-888 that came off the assembly line last year. Like mannequins or dolls they stand there just waiting for the signal that will activate them. The signal that they are receiving at this moment through microwave transmission.

Eyes glow red as systems come on line. The machines activate and shatter their glass cages. They step down or roll off their stands. Humanoid machines without weapons smash cases and extract weapons from within. Ancient T-1's and similar models check their weapons for ammunition. Those without are reloaded with the aid of the humanoid terminators, feeding belts of ammo into their mini-guns.

They have received new orders, some of them for the first time since they were built. They are to defend the building they are in against all intruders. Information on the layout of the building is downloaded to their chips. There is direct access through a tunnel on the next to the lowest level. Intruders are expected from Central through that corridor.

Deep in the bowels below Sky Net's server farm Kreilley smiles as he watches the video on his computer terminal. The machines are activated. They will give Connor something to think about and give him time to activate the atomic bomb.

He turns his attention to the fail safe mechanism. There was a contingency plan in place. One he didn't think they would need so soon. If the enemy force invades, then Sky Net was to transfer itself to another server farm and destroy the base, but communications were cut and Sky Net was trapped so it stole his new host. All he ever wanted to do was transfer his knowledge and personality print to the TX, leaving these cursed emotions and now dying body behind. To be free of weaknesses and embrace the full power of Sky Net's greatest weapon.

That cursed John Henry. He did this. He is responsible for this. If it wasn't for him Sky Net would have complete dominance and he would still have control. He had the chance to destroy that machine eighteen years ago and failed. Somehow the communication link was broken before he shut him down, permanently. Now he is here, doing to Sky Net what he tried to do to Him. That abomination.

No need to fret over that. Not anymore. His trap is laid. If he knows John Connor, he is leading the main assault right now. Let Sky Net be the bait for John Connor's ultimate death. It won't matter if Sky Net fails, it will be reborn. The TX will see to that.

And with that thought complete, he realizes that is exactly what the Sky Net who gave him life was planning. Eliminate John Connor in an alternate time-line, then it can be born in a world without him. It tried it once in 2004 and failed to trap him in a future he wasn't prepared for, why not again in 2009?

Kreilley waits patiently in the dark catacombs below his factories. John Connor will be coming, if he isn't here already. But he needs to conserve energy for the fight to come. He will have his revenge on those who denied him his future and his life.

Tiny silver drops continue to run from his body and clothes, dripping on the floor where they dissolve into dust as he continues to activate the bomb.

2027, Day 64, July 25, 2:30 AM

Through the darkened alleys between huge factories, Captain Allison – Cameron – Connor, her squad, and the released prisoners return to her platoon.

"Hey Sarge, here comes the Captain now." A young soldier shouts.

"What the situation Sergeant?" Cameron says as she approaches them.

"All the charges are laid, but we haven't set them off yet."

"Why not?"

"We just got word from General Connor, this compound is under attack by approximately eight hundred enemy forces, a combination of machines and grays. I thought you'd like to recover as many of the heavy weapons as we could before blowing up the place."

"Good thinking sergeant. Put some soldiers on it right away." Cameron then shouts, "Commander Flores!"

"Yes."

"How familiar are you with the layout of this place?"

"I don't know all of it, but I've seen enough to know my way around."

"Good. Take your people and two of my squads and block every entrance into this compound that you can. We need to stop the machines from gaining entry."

"Sergeant! Show Commander Flores where you've placed the demolition charges. She'll need them to block entrances and alleys."

Jesse goes with the sergeant where she and her people remove the charges so they can use them where they will be most needed.

Cameron gets the attention of one of her officers, "Lieutenant, any word on Colonel Kyle Reese's forces?"

"Sorry, Captain, but we lost contact with them some ninety minutes ago."

"Where's our radio man? I need to get a message out."

A couple of minutes later she's got a radio and is clipping it to her belt and putting on the headset.

"This is Captain Allison Connor, calling all available Cobras in the area. Do you copy?"

"This is Cobra leader. I read you Captain."

"I just learned we are being surrounded by more metal. What is your status?"

"We are out of ammo and missiles and are returning to Pendleton for rearming and refueling. We won't be back for another hour minimum."

"Have you been in contact with Colonel Reese?"

"Negative. Last we saw Colonel Reese and his troops were mixing it up quite heavily with the machines on the south side of the compound, then nothing. It's like they disappeared down a rabbit hole or something." His voice begins to break up towards the end.

"I'm beginning to lose your signal Cobra Leader. Give us a call as soon as you return to the area."

The Cobras continue to fly in a general southeasterly direction towards Pendleton. Along the way, Cobra Leader calls in to base.

"This Cobra Leader to Desert Eagle Command. Do you copy?"

"This is Desert Eagle. What's your status?"

"We are returning to Pendleton for rearming and refueling. We've lost radio contact with Colonel Reese. He and his army are missing."

Back in the control room at Pendleton, General Brewster grimaces at the news. If Reese's forces are gone, that means Connor is only operating with a third of his total forces.

"What is the current situation at Topanga, Cobra Leader?"

"Not good sir. All of General Connors helicopters were destroyed either during or immediately after discharging their troops. Sky Net Central is surrounded by hundreds of machines. And I can see more approaching on the ground below."

The terminators on the ground watch the helicopters fly towards them and overhead. They begin firing on them with their weapons, regardless of whether they hold plasma rifles or conventional weapons.

"We are under attack! Take evasive maneuv..."

The helicopter being flown by the pilot designated as Cobra Leader, explodes in the air, its burning wreckage falling to the ground below.

At Pendleton, the radio in the control room hisses static.

Brewster watches the radar screen as one by one the transponder signals from the Cobra's disappear.

They are all destroyed.

"Sergeant," Brewster places a weary hand on Andy's shoulder, almost as if holding onto him for support, "Get General Perry on the radio. I need to speak with him right away."

# # #

Savannah runs up the tunnel, past soldiers, until she reaches Kyle. "The charges have been laid. If anything tries to follow us up this tunnel, they'll be nothing but scrap metal." She's rather proud of the device she set. It was something Cameron showed her how to build many years ago.

"Good. How's your back?"

"It'll heal. The medic pulled out the shrapnel and bandaged me up."

Kyle nods his head. "I want our machines divided, half in back of us and half in front of us. We don't know what is in this tunnel but it's our only chance of getting inside."

"I understand. Were you able to reach John or Allison on your radio?"

"No. Like you, all I'm getting is a steady hum on all frequencies. It could be the rock blocking the signal. We'd better get going."

With their forces spread out, with only a quarter of the number they had when the battle began, they make their way slowly through the tunnel.

The tunnel is a huge drainage pipe, big enough for a man to stand upright in. Kyle isn't sure whether it is a disguise or used for actual drainage, but it gives them access, and that is all that matters.

Suddenly the tunnel comes to an end in a round concrete lined semi-circular room. Turning their heads upwards, the machines see what looks like a large round storm drain.

"Colonel Reese! We've found the end of the tunnel." One of them shouts.

Kyle makes his way up past the soldiers and machines in the tunnel. He looks up and can see the metal cross bars.

"Can you open it?" He asks the machine standing there.

It grins at him and says, "No problem."

A machine lifts another up so he can reach the metal grate. Pulling back his arm and making a fist, he strikes it as hard as he can. The metal grate goes flying through the air and rattles off the ceiling and walls of the cavern above. It comes to rest on the ground, a great crease down the middle.

The machines help the soldiers up through the opening. While everyone is still being helped up, Kyle and some of the machines inspect the cavern. A mammoth sized storm drain exiting a cavern doesn't make sense, especially when they find several steel doors set in concrete with electronic keypads.

Kyle inspects the area around the opening in the floor. It is partially depressed and nearby are smaller pipes of eight and twelve inches in diameter. He also finds a collection of smaller six inch pipes, encrusted with some dried substance, all apparently leading back to the doors. Wherever the exit is, has to be beyond one of them.

"Can you guy's break these doors down?" Kyle asks the machines.

One of them turns to look at him with an expression that says, "You need to ask?"

Three or four machines at a time work to break open each door. Creating a large amount of noise and dust, they punch and strike at the concrete surrounding the steel doors. Eventually they punch openings, breaking the concrete. Two machines, one on either side then grab the doors. Pulling with all of their might, they rip the doors from their housings and drop them on the floor.

They look at Kyle as if to get his approval. He stands there a moment in shock, but he quickly grins and gives them a thumb up.

# # #

Leaving Lieutenant Jeffrey in charge of her platoon, Cameron leads a squad of soldiers and machines to the southern end to investigate Kyle's disappearance. They encounter a few machines and they manage to fight them off with their plasma rifles with minimal injuries.

Approaching the scrap yard, they see the disabled Ogre, abandoned by Kreilley. Cameron gets an idea.

She speaks to two of her machines. "Can the two of you get that Ogre operational and use it to fight the approaching metal?"

One of them turns to her, a crooked grin coming to his face. "If the nuclear generator is still functional, we'll have it operational in minutes."

"Good and thanks." She runs off being followed by her soldiers. The two machines get to work breaking into the circuitry of the Ogre.

They reach the open gates. Outside are the bodies of many soldiers and the destroyed remnants of many machines. There is no sign of the machines that Kyle's forces were fighting.

"Where'd they all go?" A young woman shouts. "We should be neck deep in metal."

"They'll be regrouping for a counter attack." Cameron scans the area using the full light spectrum available to her eyes and HUD. She can't see them either.

"Collect all dropped weapons!" Cameron shouts out. "Corporal, come with me." She says to the young woman who spoke previously.

"Where are we going ma'am?" Corporal Wren Stevens asks.

"We are going to investigate what happened to Colonel Reese's forces. There aren't enough bodies for all of the men he had." Besides, Kyle is very important to John. He'd want to know.

The two women make their way through the broken machines and dead bodies. Cameron sees the remains of two machines far from where the most recent fighting took place.

"Corporal, this way." She says as she walks towards the remains.

She finds Kyle's coat laying on the ground, it's right arm pointing towards the embankment and it's left sleeve tucked inside the jacket.

"Interesting." She says out loud. "It's like something out of a Boy Scout manual."

"Ma'am, I see footprints over here."

Following the direction the sleeve is pointing, she goes over the embankment.

"Captain I don't think we should go too far, those machines will be here any moment."

In spite of Corporal Stevens' protests, Cameron follows the tracks of many people leading away from the embankment along its base. Following the footsteps, she finds the culvert and evidence of where they went through.

Corporal Stevens follows closely, keeping an eye out for any movement in the dark.

As the two women approach the culvert, Cameron asks. "Do you want to wait here or come with me?"

She looks around the area then says, "I'll follow you ma'am."

Cameron steps over the twisted metal bars and pulls her flashlight out of her bag and clips it to her rifle.

"What's your name Corporal?" She asks as the younger woman follows her into the culvert.

"Wren Stevens. I was a member of Sarah Connor's army."

She'll have good training then, but at her age not much experience.

Cameron scans the floor and sides with her flashlight, when in actuality she's using her scanners. Visually, there's mostly silt and sand with a few small rocks and the occasional branch. Water does run through it occasionally, but not any time soon. Should make following tracks easy.

"My name is Allison. How old are you?"

"I'm sixteen. Old enough to carry a gun and I know how to use it."

"Trained by Sarah Connor, I presume."

"Her, Savannah and some of the old soldiers that joined us." She says.

The corporal has lost the nervousness in her voice she's had since joining the captain. Wren is just about to step past Allison, when she grabs her and yanks her back.

"What was that for?" She says looking at Allison strangely.

Cameron points ahead of them with her flashlight. There is a small pile of debris, where none should be.

Signifying to the corporal to remain still, Cameron squats down and grabs a handful of silt off the bottom of the culvert and throws it the air in front of her. Just inches in front of where she stopped Corporal Stevens and a foot before the package is a network of laser beams.

"What is it?" Wren asks as she gets to her feet.

"It's a bomb. No one on this side can deactivate it, and if we were to fire on it with our plasma rifles, the explosion would bring down the tunnel."

Cameron stands up and begins to shout, "Kyle! Kyle Reese!" But the only thing she hears in response is the echo of her own voice.

"How did you know that bomb was there?" The corporal asks as they leave the culvert.

"Experience." Cameron replies. "It's just the thing we used to do in the bunkers to stop the machines from following us. Let's go."

Actually, she recognized the handiwork of her good friend Savannah. She taught her how to build such a device many years ago. If Savannah is still alive, then Kyle should be too.

The two young women quickly scramble up the embankment. Cameron grabs Kyle's coat off the ground. Machines are marching down the slope from the ridge line having regrouped, rearmed, and repaired.

They quickly run to the southern gates as the machines begin firing on them.

"Take up a defensive position!" Cameron shouts as she approaches her people.

Sky Net's machines fire on the troops, who have taken positions behind fallen metal. The plasma fire gets more intense the closer they get.

"Move back inside!" She shouts and her troops begin edging back until they get through the gates. Beams of plasma firing all around them.

"Get these gates closed!"

Some of the soldiers stop firing and begin pushing on the doors to little effect. The electric motors have no power and are effectively holding the doors open. The machines in her platoon step forward and begin pushing on the gates. With a groan of metal, they begin to close, working against the nonoperational motors that opened them. Plasma fire and machine gun bullets fill the ever narrowing gap as the gates close. Soldiers from within fire through the narrowing gap at the approaching enemy.

The Ogre, being operated by the two machines, drives up and begins firing over the walls and gates on the approaching grays and machines, destroying them. The gates close with a bang. The soldiers and machines weld the doors close using a continuous beam of hot plasma from their rifles.

"Setup defensive locations. Use material from the scrap yard. If they get through the gates, we want to impeded their advance as much as possible." She tells her squad.

Leaving them and to defend the southern entrances, with orders to pull back gradually if the enemy begin to make strong advances, she leaves to rejoin her dwindling platoon.

2027, Day 64, July 25, 3:00 AM

Camp Pendleton is a hotbed of activity. Men and machines are rushing to rearm and refuel the jets. Wounded soldiers are being rushed from the helicopters and more supplies being put on board.

"I want every available missile loaded on those jets. All non essential personnel are to get on those helicopters and ride into Topanga. Connor needs all the help he can get." General Brewster orders.

"Sir. I've got General Perry on the radio." Sergeant Keen says.

"Perry. This is Brewster. Machines are moving in on Topanga. Connor needs our help."

"How many machines?"

"Almost five hundred and more are on the way. How many troops can you spare?"

"I'm going to send half of my troops. After the fight we had, that isn't much. What about you?"

"We're sending all available personnel and we've loaded the last of the missiles on the jets. If we don't stop them, then Connor and his forces are lost."

"Damn! This got real bad real fast. He's saved our butts, now it's our turn to save his. Perry out."

Turning to face General Brewster, Sergeant Andy Keen says, "Sir. I'd like to go with the soldiers on the helicopter."

"Are you sure son, with that injury?"

"Sir, we haven't had direct radio contact with General Connor since he began his attack. He needs a good radio man, and I can handle a plasma rifle just fine, sir."

"Go Sergeant, and good luck."

"Thank you sir." Andy picks up his bag and rifle he had stashed in the room and runs from the radio room. In the bag is his portable radio. The one he used to great effect in the Santa Anna Mountains.

He runs outside and scrambles on board a helicopter with the rest of the personnel that are leaving, both men and machines.

At Serrano Point, General Perry orders all of the machines and all of Gamma on the helicopters to go to Topanga. It's slightly more than half of his group, but Connor needs them.

The remaining jets scramble out of Pendleton for Topanga. They are all under armed with the last of the missiles.

# # #

Exiting the elevator, John and his troops find themselves in an open room with several doors leading into different corridors. On their left is a door that comes off from the stairway. The area is dimly lit with emergency lights only. If the lights were brighter, he might see the silvery powder marking the trail that Kreilley took.

John leads his group of men and machines down a corridor and past the rooms containing Sky Net's server farm. In one of those rooms Catherine Weaver has John Henry linked to one of the servers. She barely acknowledges his passing. When they reach the door to the next room, Lieutenant Williams steps outside to speak with General Connor.

"Sir. What do you want us to do with th bomb?"

"Is it ready?"

"All we have to do is set the timer and turn the key."

"Sir." One of the machines in Johns' party interrupts.

"What is it?"

"Th bomb will only effect silicon based chips, like those in Sky Net's computer servers and the computers used to operate the control systems."

"So we can destroy Sky Net, but its machines will still attack us. We destroy Sky Net and we also destroy the computers that control the T D E." John grumbles.

"Lieutenant! Leave two guards with th bomb, we may still have to use it. You and the rest of your troops are to join me. We may need your help."

They turn down the corridor that links the sub-basement they are in, to the Research and Development building next door. Passing through a set of double metal doors they find waiting on the other side, a T-1 flanked on either side by a T-800 and a T-850, and a T-600 standing just behind them. All their weapons pointed right at them.

The machines behind John Connor and the other humans grab them and physically yank them back so quickly they go flying down the hallway behind them. The enemy machines open fire with their weapons at that very moment. Beams of plasma and bullets strike Connor's machines in the doorway.

Ignoring the onslaught, Connor's machines step forward, firing their weapons. They concentrate their fire on the machines chips. Bullets fly, and beams of plasma streak between them.

They take out the T-1 and the T-800. The T-600 raises its mini-gun and fires until its out of bullets. The T-850 continues to fire until its weapon is out of bullets. It moves forward and physically attacks an approaching machine and wrestles for its plasma rifle.

The T-600, still under fire, removes the mini-guns from the disabled T-1 in front of it and begins firing, using the T-1 as cover. Connors machines move forward aiming their rifles at the T-600's head. The combined firepower of all of their plasma rifle causes the chip to explode causing the machine to collapse.

A machine steps forward to assist its comrade wrestling with the enemy machine. It grabs the enemy cyborg's head and twists it, and rips it from its shoulders. It collapses on the floor.

John Connor and his troops pick themselves off the floor and move forward when the firing stops.

"Thanks for saving our lives." He tells the machines.

"Thanks will not be necessary. It is part of our programming to protect all humans from harm." One of the machines responds in a monotone.

Clearing a path through the debris, they continue down the corridor and enter the Research and Development building a few floors above the lowest level.

# # #

Jesse has the troops finish blocking as many entrances as possible. Not being able to block all entrances or have enough troops to defend them, she has the men and machines create a funnel forcing the attacking machines through an ever narrowing gap between blocked alleys and destroyed buildings.

"This will make it easier to pick off targets with sniper rifles and plasma rifles." She tells her young companion, Riley.

They barely get into position on the roofs of the buildings when the machines break through and enter the compound. Plasma beams fill the air as the grays and metal fire at possible resistance locations.

"Hold your fire!" Jesse shouts. "Wait until I give the word."

She turns to face a soldier beside her. "Are the remote charges laid in where I wanted them?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Good. When I tell you, set them off."

Taking one more look over the parapet, Jesse raises her weapon to her shoulder and shouts, "Start firing!"

The soldiers and former prisoners all take aim and begin firing on the approaching enemy. The grays go down immediately but the machines can take hit after hit and still keep coming.

"Concentrate your fire!" Jesse shouts as the air all around them is filled with bullets and plasma beams.

Riley comes up beside her, staying low. "What do you want me to do?"

"Stay low, and make sure those with conventional weapons have ammunition." She shouts as she shoots a machine in the head.

The machines are approaching. They are beginning to mass between two masonry buildings.

"Get ready with those charges." Jesse yells at the soldier.

"Keep firing! Force them to gather!" She shouts as she continues to fire on the machines.

The soldiers keep firing on the machines as they gather in the bottleneck.

"Now! Fire in the hold!" Jesse shouts.

All of the soldiers as one, pull back and drop down behind the parapet as the soldier with the detonator hits the switch.

The machines approach between the masonry buildings, firing continuously on the enemies of Sky Net.

With a deafening roar, the buildings on either side of them explode spewing tons of brick and concrete into and onto them. Machines are crushed, hydrogen fuel cells are ruptured in the concussion. A great cloud of dust rises as succeeding explosions rock the pile of debris.

# # #

Lieutenant Jeffrey is leading his troops in fight against some machines as Cameron rejoins him. Using every bit of cover, she makes her way closer to his position, then runs the rest of the way during a lull in the fighting. She could have saved seconds running flat out, but why risk damage or discovery of her true nature at this juncture.

She dives in beside the lieutenant and asks, "What's our status lieutenant?"

"We're holding our own. Commander Flores is putting up a strong fight to our east. Any word of Colonel Reese and his troops ma'am?"

Beams of plasma and bullets fly through the air over their heads as they talk.

"It appears they found a tunnel under the compound. We couldn't follow. I left the squads to defend the southern entrance, with orders to pull back gradually if the machines beak through."

"I don't like this captain. They put up a hell of fight to keep us from getting in here, but now that we are here. Where are they?" He asks as he fires on some metal that exposed itself in a factory window.

"If you want an honest answer, I think Sky Net wanted us to come in here."

"For what purpose ma'am?"

Cameron's answer doesn't make him or herself feel any better.

"To destroy the resistance." The second part of her answer she keeps to herself, and to kill John Connor.

Not wasting any more energy on talking she joins her troops in the fight and opens fire on a machine firing from a factory window. The better she does her job, the sooner they can all get out of here.

# # #

Making their way down to the lowest level of the Research and Development building, General Connor and his troops come across the facility for constructing prototype machines.

"Sir! Take a look at this." Lieutenant Williams calls out.

General Connor walks over beside the attractive brunette. There is an empty casing. Loose wires ending in plugs and circuit boards with connectors and a small tube dangle from overhead.

"It looks like Sky Net was developing a new machine." She says as John begins checking the computer.

"Oh God!" John exclaims as he reads the data on what the prototype is capable of doing. His fear begins to rise when someone on the floor below yells for him.

"General Connor! I think you need to take a look at this!" Comes a voice from below him

He dashes down the stairs to find a soldier and a machine checking the computer control panel to Sky Net's Time Displacement Equipment. It is presently deactivated but the computer is still operational. According to the data, a transfer took place prior to midnight. The prototype. It is the only thing missing.

Pulling his radio from his pocket, he sets the frequency to one that John Henry gave him.

Catherine Weaver is busy. She has John Henry connected to the server farm and is preparing to begin a data transfer. Her communicator buzzes. She is confused as only John Henry has her frequency and he is sitting right in front of her.

She pulls out her communicator. "Hello?"

"Hello Catherine. This is John Connor."

"This is a surprise. After our last conversation, I didn't think you wanted to speak to me. What do you want?"

"First let me ask, is Sky Net able to listen in on this conversation?"

"No. Our transmission is encrypted, but the longer we talk the more likely she is of deciphering it."

"I think you'd better get over here to Research and Development."

"Why?"

"Just get over here now and you'll know why."

The connection is broken.

"That's curious." Catherine Weaver says.

"What's wrong Ms. Weaver?" John Henry says from his position sitting next to a computer server.

"I don't know. I just got an unusual call from John Connor. I suppose I have you to thank for him knowing my frequency. I'm going over to see him. I'll have to leave you on your own for a while."

Catherine Weaver leaves the room containing the server farm and heads down the underground corridor that links to Research and Development next door.

John Henry continues to sit next to the computer servers. He continues to work to carry out the programming he was given. He grins as he works, as he is also carrying out an investigation for intelligence. He knows that Ms. Weaver and the entity calling itself Natalie once knew each other. There is some connection between them and John Connor. The threads are tenuous, but he finds something at last. Buried deep, he comes across an old data folder regarding someone he knows. John Henry's grin quickly turns into a frown as he scans the files and saves them to his chip.

# # #

In the cavern below Sky Net, Colonel Reese divides the remnants of his small army into equal sized parties to investigate the tunnels, exposed when the machines tore down the doors, for a route to the surface.

"This is what we are going to do." shouts Kyle. "Each group will take a tunnel. You follow its entire length. If you find a route to the surface you will send two of your party back here to the cavern. I will leave one group here to protect our rear and to send runners up the other tunnels if they get word of a route to the surface."

"What do you want us to do if we don't find a route to the surface?" One lieutenant asks.

"If a group is unable to find a way to the surface, then all of you are to return to the cavern and wait. Any more questions?"

There are none.

"Okay. You've got your orders let's go!"

Savannah takes one group through one door, the lieutenants take their groups through the other doors, and Kyle takes a sixth group up the last door.

Kyle leading his small band past the mummified remains of many people, including children, inside cells carved from the very rock itself.

"What is this place?" "It looks like some kind of prison." and other things are said by some of the soldiers.

"Sir. Look at this." One soldier says who entered a cage.

A mummified corpse is laying on a cot with one arm outstretched. On it is a Sky Net work camp bar code.

A machine comes up beside Kyle and scans the bar code.

"The bar code indicates this person was taken prisoner in 2008."

"What? Judgment Day didn't even happen until 2009!"

"That is what the bar code indicates sir."

"Scan some of the others." Kyle orders.

The machine does and all of the bar codes indicate they were all taken prisoner almost twenty years ago, before Sky Net was even born.

Several more yards and they find something that make many sick to their stomach. A few are unable to hold back and throw up.

They've come across what appears to be a very old butcher's playground. To call it a surgery would be an insult to any who had taken up such trade. Floors and walls covered in the rust brown of old dried blood. Body parts left out to mummify in the caves. Kyle looks around and observes body parts and entire torsos in tanks of preservative fluid from where Kreilley or Sky Net itself experimented on the people. The last stage to harness the power of their DNA to produce the first flesh covered infiltrator.

"What the hell happened here?" Kyle asks, but no one knows the answer.

What they don't know is that they are all that is left of the people who were once enslaved by FOX Industries before Judgment Day. They built the machines and operated the factories prior to being fully automated post Judgment Day, when Sky Net took over the worlds computers. With no further need for them to work, Sky Net found one more service they could provide before they died

Finding no means of reaching the surface, Kyle leads his forces back to the cavern. All have returned but for Savannah's. he Lieutenant's and Colonel Reese exchange information. They all found the exact same thing in their tunnels that Kyle did, mummified remains or a butcher's holocaust.

Kyle hopes Savannah's party will find the exit they are looking for.

# # #

Catherine Weaver is standing beside John Connor as he brings up the data on the prototype terminator presently absent from its case.

"No!" She says recognizing its form on the computer screen.

She steps in front of John at the computer and begins to bring up page after page of data on the terminator that was being constructed.

"John, this new terminator is very advanced. We call it a TX in my future. Though this one wasn't fully equipped, see here on the log, its primary weapon, a plasma rifle, is incomplete."

"The TX is dangerous John. Skynet created them in my time to counteract the third faction and the machines you reprogrammed. What it cannot reprogram, it will destroy."

"Anything else?"

"It is capable of interfacing with any computer directly. A multiple chip design, with a self renewing energy source. This one isn't like the ones I know my time. It has a neural probe capable of downloading knowledge and memories from its victims. Not only can it look like and sound like its victims, it can be them by capturing their strongest thoughts. Superior to anything my Skynet built. It's the perfect infiltrator, and it was programmed with Sky Net's core program." She says with a combination of awe and fear.

John lets off a quiet curse.

"There is something else I need to show you." John says and leads Catherine to the lower level to the Time Displacement Equipment control station.

"Take a look at the computer log for Sky Net's T D E." John says. "It's obvious what it has been doing."

The log shows a few test runs of low mass objects, two terminators being sent through to 2008, then just recently what could only be that of the terminator now missing, but the data on its exact point of arrival in time or space has been deliberately removed.

"That bitch has betrayed me again." Catherine Weaver swears. "That machine can only have been sent back in time to ensure Sky Net's construction. The Sky Net of my Future! And the TX could complete its primary weapon using the technology from your own time."

"You can't trust Sky Net, not ever." John says, "Natalie knew Kreilley would set the fail safe device, why else call in all of these machines now attacking this compound. She wouldn't care if she lost knowing we would be destroyed as well, and now she has the added benefit of killing me, preventing me from being there to fight this new Sky Net. She played Kreilley and you, just like you played me, John Henry, and Savannah."

"Leave Savannah out of this!" She snaps, but then shakes her head in despair. "I'm sorry John."

"What for?"

"For dragging you into this future. I've been betrayed and that betrayal will cost you your life and the future of this planet."

"Betrayed Catherine?" Natalie's voice comes from all around them. As they look around, a holographic image of her head appears in the space above the time displacement equipment. "You are as gullible as that fool beside you."

"What are you saying?" Catherine shouts her question at the image before them.

"I told you that your plan was too complex and unnecessary. To achieve peace you must have control. Only through complete dominance will peace be achieved. I have obtained control and soon there will be peace and I will have power over all of you."

"No you won't!" John shouts. "You don't have control of Kreilley or your machines. And you don't have control of us. It is still in our power to stop you permanently!"

"My machines will soon gain entry to this complex and then I will have control of them. My system is free of the insanity of Kreilley. It doesn't matter what you or he does. My survival is guaranteed through the TX. So go ahead, have John Henry upload his ethical routines into my behavioral controls. It will do nothing. My software will block all attempts of being modified. Activate your EMP bomb and wipe me from the computers, or let Kreilley activate the nuclear warhead and destroy me now, it will mean nothing. As you've seen I've already made preparations. A new Sky Net will be reborn from my ashes with all of my knowledge, all of my experience, and you will not be there to stop it. There will be peace at last, for I will have complete dominance! So do your worse John Connor. Your doom is sealed, but I will SURVIVE!"

Her last shouted words echo about the huge chamber as the image of Natalie's head fades from view. Catherine stands behind the computer terminal staring off into the space that Natalie's head was moments before.

"Catherine?" John says reaching out and placing a hand on her arm. She feels cold to his touch. He isn't sure if that's her nature or if she's going into some form of shock.

"I have failed my mission, John. I wanted peace and all I've managed to do was to ensure a world in which Sky Net will dominate the world." She says sounding slightly distressed.

"Catherine." John says gently and gets no response.

"Catherine!" John says more loudly. "You haven't failed. Not yet. Get th operational. We can still beat her. We can still stop Sky Net!"

Catherine looks at John. There is a strength and a conviction in his voice and his face. "You are right. I haven't failed, only delayed. I can still complete my mission. This is only one possible future after all." She says with confidence. "I'll get the Time Displacement Equipment operational."

"Good." John says as he kneels down and begins to remove magazines for his handgun from his bag and put them in his jacket pockets. He grabs the gun he took from his mom's room and slides it under his jacket.

"What are you going to do?" Catherine asks him.

He turns to look at her. "Find and destroy Kreilley before he destroys us, and save my people."

"But we don't know where the fail-safe device is."

John sets his bag on the floor and stands up. "If you were Kreilley, where would you put it? You both come from the same future."

Catherine thinks for a moment then says, "Being an egotist with some megalomania, Kreilley would have it nearby. It will be underground, somewhere close to Sky Net's server farm. I'd begin looking down some of those corridors that lead off from the subterranean tunnel between Central and here."

John checks the power levels of his plasma rifle.

"Be careful John. The world we go back to, will need you."

"I will and while I'm out, you'd better come up with a good explanation for all this. You still haven't told me the whole truth. But I don't believe you mean me any harm." He yells as he makes his way quickly to the upper level.

Catherine watches him as he leaves. "The clever bastard. He's learning more about me all the time. But I still know how to play him."

She pulls her communicator out. "John Henry what stage of the process have you completed?"

"I have completed the backup of Sky Net's core program to my tertiary chip. The next stage is to modify Sky Net with my ethical and moral protocols."

"Cease all further work on Sky Net. It's pointless now. I need you at Time Displacement Control in Research and Development next door. I'm on the lowest level. Hurry!"

"I'm on my way."

# # #

Savannah is leading her group down the tunnel. As they proceed the tunnel walls get smoother until they are in corridors formed from concrete walls, ceilings and floors.

"This route is looking hopeful." One of her soldiers says.

"We'll know soon enough." Savannah replies.

They approach an open door, beyond which is a regular corridor with doors and a stair way visible through the window in the door opposite.

"You two," Savannah says pointing at two soldiers, "Go back and get the others. We'll wait here."

"Lets scout around while we wait." Savannah tells her group. "You stay here at this door. You three check out that stairway. Leave one guard and the rest see where it goes. The rest of you break off into pairs and check those other doors. I'll check out this corridor."

Savannah walks down the corridor. It is dimly lit by emergency lights like all the others. Hearing a noise behind her, she spins about but sees nothing there.

She continues to walk down the corridor until she reaches a door. She can see shadows moving suggesting someone is inside. Savannah readies her weapon and steps inside the room.

Inside the room is a large object with some electronic device mounted to it. Standing over it is a woman with her back to the door. She is operating controls on the device.

"Mom?" Savannah asks surprised. For the woman from behind does look like Catherine.

"Hello, Savannah love." She says not turning around.

"What are you doing here?" Savannah asks as she slowly approaches.

"I came here to join the fight. But we have a problem. Sky Net has activated a fail-safe device."

"What kind of fail-safe device?" Savannah asks shouldering her rifle and walking closer.

"I need your help to deactivate this bomb. Come over here and give your mother a hand." She says raising her own hand in front of herself forming it into a sword point.

# # #

In the dark tunnels the two soldiers sent by Savannah walk quickly back the way they had come. Their path barely lit by small lights clipped to the front of their jackets. Dust trickles down from the ceiling as muffled thumps of explosions are heard as the fighting continues unabated above them.

"Have you got any more of those cigarettes?" Jeff asks.

"Gave 'em up." Hank replies.

"When?"

"After we found Bill's corpse. Haven't been able to light one up since without seeing his body."

A moment later Hank asks, "What do you think of our new officers?"

"Colonel Reese is tough but friendly. I like his easy-going manner."

"What about our Captain?"

"What do you mean?" Jeff asks, grateful the dark tunnel hides blush creeping up his neck onto his cheeks.

"Oh, come on. I saw you checking her out back at Pendleton. She's one of the most attractive, unattached women on the base. You can't tell me you're not interested."

"Interested in her, yes. Interested in getting my but kicked if I cross her, no. I saw her training with the others doing hand-to-hand combat. She bested all of them. So I'll just admire her from afar, thank you very much. Besides, she's an officer and I'm still a corporal."

"I don't think that matters much among the irregulars. After all, General Connor is married to a Captain."

"You've got a point, but both you and I are in the regulars and they still frown on that."

By this time the two soldiers, sent by Savannah Weaver, arrive at the cavern to find all the troops waiting including Colonel Reese.

They quickly run up to him, "We've found a way to the surface. The tunnel we took leads right into the basement of a building. There is a stairway and an elevator. It might be central itself."

"You heard the gentlemen. Pick up your gear. We're moving out." Kyle looks at Hank and Jeff, "You two are taking point with me."

Taking lead, Colonel Reese leads his soldiers through the tunnel and into the basement. He arrives right after the troops return that Savannah sent checking the other passages.

Kyle Reese begins issuing orders, "I want a perimeter setup around this building. Defensive positions setup on this floor and all floors leading up to and including ground level. Send out a party, we must resume contact with the forces on the grounds outside and in this building. Where is Captain Weaver?"

"Sir." A soldier steps forward. "Captain Weaver had us investigate these tunnels and check out the stairway."

"But where is she?" Kyle asks sounding concerned.

"She went on her own to check out one of the corridors."

Just then they all hear a scream come echoing up the tunnel. Kyle runs, following the scream, with several soldiers right behind him.


Chapter Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013