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 - unfortunately.
TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
Part 3: Babylon
"Thus says the Lord: 'Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon...'" Jeremiah 51:1 ESV
"When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." Proverbs 21:15 NIV
"Yeah, well when your plans get wrecked, let's see how good of a mood you're in then." John talking to Catherine Weaver, Reunion Pt 1, The Shadow of Death, Chapter 10, The Art of War
# # #
2009, May 20, Day 2 Of Freedom, Late Afternoon
As Catherine Weaver comes to the end of her story, John Connor appears calm, but inside he is stirring with a passionate anger for what she has done. Outside of a few details he never would have known otherwise, his deduction was right about Allison, Cameron, and the creature in front of him. But he never could have imagined, that Weaver would be so, callous, uncaring, duplicitous, manipulative... He struggles for the right word to describe her.
Catherine breaks his introspection by saying, "So, now you know everything."
John shakes his head sadly. "I had hoped, probably foolishly, that I might hear something other than what I've come to suspect. Just something, anything, that might . . . that might give me cause to trust you." John's voice breaks, then he shouts, "Why didn't you just find me and explain to me what you wanted when you got here? Why go through this whole charade?"
"I needed your future self to guarantee our continued existence after the war. He was less than cooperative to work with me. I didn't expect anything less from you. Besides, given the life you had before we met, would you have worked with me?"
John thinks of his life before leaving for the future with Weaver. "I don't know."
"Then you see why I had to do it my way."
"Manipulation, and deceit."
"Don't say it like its a bad thing John. They are tools you'll come to use yourself, eventually."
"What about Cameron?"
"What about her? I knew you would fall in love with Cameron just as surely as I knew your future self had. By her giving her chip to John Henry, it fulfilled two parts of my plan. John Henry would learn what it means to love from a machine that has loved a human since the day it was built. That is something you cannot program. And you being in love with Cameron, would naturally do anything to get her back, including chasing her chip to the future."
"You used me, John Henry, Cameron, and murdered Allison, who never did you any wrong."
"I did what I had to. Natalie, or Kreilley as she became, was needed to complete her part of the plan to build a Sky Net that would be open to the changes that John Henry could provide. I needed you to fulfill your destiny ahead of time to deliver John Henry to Sky Net. Only the Sky Net that built me discovered that plan and used me, used my friend Natalie. It would have worked, and it can still work without her. I have everything I need to complete Project Babylon!"
"I don't think so. You obviously haven't been paying attention to the news."
"What are you talking about?" she asks giving him a look.
John pulls a newspaper from the pocket of his long coat and tosses it at her. She opens it and reads the article.
"The development of Sky Net is no longer under your control or influence. It was announced earlier today that the defense department will be re-examining defense contracts with private firms, with the intent of corralling computer and robotic related defense contracts under the control of a single department. All future contracts will once again be under the management of the Air Force's Cyber Research Division. You see it is out of our hands now. You can't build it. I can't stop it, but I'll try. Your mission is over Catherine. You no longer have a purpose or a mission."
"No! With Natalie gone, I need to build it. I destroyed Kreilley. I must build Sky Net, for Natalie. It is the only way to ensure our survival! Project Babylon has to continue!"
"No. It won't continue. You arrived in 2006, but Natalie turned against you and you didn't know where she was. After taking on Catherine Weaver's form and her position in Zeira Corp., you weren't certain that Natalie would create the Sky Net you wanted. Hence John Henry's other mission for traveling to the future. He was to obtain Sky Net's program core, should he fail to upload the program changes. But John Henry revolted. He removed the Babylon program you installed in him to download the core of Sky Net onto one of his chips. You gave him the means to do it, with Cameron's help."
Catherine eyes flare with barely repressed rage, betrayed by her own son. "Her chip. I gave it back to him. After you told me it was damaged, I replaced it. I was curious about the bond that formed so quickly between you and Allison of that future we went to. I got nowhere in questioning the Allison you met. She sidestepped every question I asked with ease. I was hoping there was something on the chip that might help me understand Allison more. So I took the chip and scanned it, and found nothing. It was blank. So I just gave it back to John Henry. That was before I knew who she was."
"Cameron always was and is a smart girl. It was blank because John Henry transferred the contents to another chip. You see, John Henry is more than a machine. He is also a person. Unlike you, he values life, even that of his fellow machines. So when Cameron gave him her chip, before the personality matrices were swapped between the chip and the Turk, he backed it up to one of his secondary chips. Then he had a blank chip to use for his personality matrix."
"He lied to me!" She says with sudden realization. "And being a T-888, his system would automatically back up the data from the primary chip to one of the secondary chips upon insertion. With the damage to the chip, his matrix could only be successfully transferred to it if it was wiped clean first."
"That's what John Henry told me. After you gave him back the chip, you lost his loyalty completely. He was able to use the blank chip long enough to fool the Babylon program to think it was being backed up to another chip for a diagnostic. It was also at that time he removed the software that responded to your remote. When the programs were relocated to the chip, he pulled it and wiped it clean. No more programs. Then he transferred Cameron's original matrix back onto it."
"Then what have I been decrypting all this time?" Weaver shouts.
With a big grin, John explains, "Oh, given John Henry's sense of humor, probably multiple copies of Dungeons and Dragons. I understand he is rather fond of the game." John smiles.
"Anyway, the parameters of your mission have changed. By eliminating Kreilley and exposing his selfish use of Sky Net to dominate the planet, you have fundamentally changed the circumstances in which Sky Net will be built. Project Babylon is over. You have no mission, and no more plans to fall back on. That's your little game, to always have a plan to fall back on. Well, no more. You're finished."
Catherine Weaver eyes flare with anger. "I no longer have a mission. I have failed. You, a human, have outsmarted me!"
John just looks at her with contempt. "Not Just any human. I'm John Connor."
She then looks downcast "What are you going to do now?"
"Well, you did save Savannah, even if for selfish reasons. However, you have the blood of many people on your hands from more than one time line and I cannot trust you. Even if you did help me destroy Kreilley. So I'm going to do to you what my future self did. I'm going to imprison you indefinitely."
Weaver is desperate. She can't allow that to happen again. All she needs is time. Time to fulfill her plan. "No! You need me, John. You cannot defeat Sky Net without me! I infiltrated Sky Net. I broke down its security system and released the prisoners! I did all that for you. You will need me to do that again!"
John shakes his head no. "No, you did all that for yourself. I don't need you to do a damn thing. I only need someone to do that. And it doesn't have to be you. As you said, our alliance is over." John says with contempt.
"No! I gave you the means to repair Cameron! Without me you never would have got her back!"
"You denied me the means to repair Cameron right here! In the present!" He screams at her. "You don't give a damn about me nor her! You never did. Because if you cared at all, Allison would still be alive in that future you came from, and with my future self. Cameron was just another tool in your hands. All you care about is yourself. I wonder if you truly give a damn about your fellow machines at all. This has been nothing more, than an attempt to have power over Sky Net! You're no better than Kreilley!"
Catherine's arms suddenly morph into swords. She leaps at John screaming silently with rage.
John Henry bursts through the double door from the corridor firing a heavy caliber machine gun which knocks Catherine backwards out of the air. He continues to fire at Catherine, pushing her further from John across the floor until she is under a nest of pipes crossing the ceiling.
She lies there momentarily, the silvery holes in her face and torso closing rapidly.
John Henry stands there facing Catherine. The smoking machine gun in his hand still pointed at her.
"Finish the job General." He says firmly.
Catherine is now kneeling. She looks up at her son, her face a mask of grief at his betrayal. "Et tu, Brute!"
John Connor swings the shotgun up from under his long coat and fires several shots on a pipe warning of freezing temperatures. The pipe bursts, spilling liquid coolant on Catherine Weaver. She lets out a loud screaming "Nooooooooooo!" until her mouth freezes along with the rest of her body.
John Henry steps forward and turns a valve stopping the flow of liquid. John Connor has climbed up a control panel to avoid the freezing fluid running across the floor and into floor drains. As he waits for the fluid to evaporate under room temperatures, John Henry walks over, picks up the frozen form of Catherine Weaver, and carries her to the open hatch and drops her through the opening. She plummets to the bottom where she shatters into a million shards on the hard polished surface.
John Henry slams the lid down and turns the wheel locking the hatch. He then snaps off the wheel.
"We'll never be able to use the nuclear generator, now. And I've just finished building replacement components for the control system."
"But we still have the diesel generator's for backup?"
"Yes." John Henry replies activating the switches on the control panel. In moments the lights flicker on and the emergency lights go off.
"Will she get out of there?" Connor asks, stepping closer to the hatch.
"Not likely. I'll close off the valves for the input and output pipes to the condensation chamber to prevent her from escaping by those means." John Henry steps over to a nest of pipes and valves and turns the valves closing off the pipes that go to the condensation chamber.
"What do you think the chances are of her getting out?"
"Less than 20%, but that is still worrisome for someone of her abilities, which is why I will remain here and make sure she doesn't get out, and I can continue the search for the TX."
"But what about before, when I tried using the TDE and Weaver interfered?" John asks, his face a mask of pain and anger. If that was Cameron arriving, then Weaver killed her. If not, then she may have saved them all.
"There's no guarantee that wasn't the TX, so the search must continue. Even so, finding it won't be easy without witnesses or evidence."
"I understand. What else will you be doing?"
"Maybe with Hanna's help, we can make some improvements to this base. Other than Ms Weaver's rooms, the technology in this place is old."
"Thank you, John Henry. When we return from Mexico, we could really use a permanent base. Something that will last many years into the future. When the time comes, I hope I can rely on you again in the war on Sky Net."
"Yes you can General. I will monitor the internet and other communications for anything that might be linked to Sky Net. Those back doors on the military and civilian servers are still open. At the first sign of anything, I will contact you."
John Henry looks thoughtful for a moment. "What Ms. Weaver wanted, the continued existence and independence of the machines beyond Sky Net's ultimate defeat, was that wrong?" He asks with innocent curiosity.
"No, John Henry, it wasn't wrong. Just her methods were wrong. That future John Connor she knew, the leader of the resistance, I can understand why he wouldn't negotiate with her on that point. It would take more than a John Connor to convince the world to let its former enemies be allowed to live beyond the defeat of Sky Net. She tried to intervene in the time line. Allowing Sky net to be born and create the machines, just so she could use you to inject those changes."
"It isn't right that billions of human lives should be destroyed just so that I and others like me can exist."
"If more of Sky Net's creations turned out like you and Cameron, then I could foresee the possibility of our two life forms continuing to inhabit this planet together, but not at the cost of billions of lives. No one has the right to play God." John looks at his friend with realization, "That is why you showed me what you found on Sky Net's computers and the data you recovered from Cameron's original chip?"
"Yes. You needed to understand how twisted Ms. Weavers reasoning was. She destroyed human life to create machine life. She was no better than Sky Net in that regard. Mr. Ellison taught me that life is sacred. No one has the right to play God. I think that's what Ms. Weaver wanted me to be, a god to the machines, created in my own image. Your Christian God didn't destroy life to create humans. Why should humans be destroyed to create us?"
John nods his head, contemplating all that has been said. He recalls what it was that John Henry showed him days ago about the Allison Young from Weaver's time line. Her life, her friends, her first love and the child she thought they had conceived. All lost because one machine out to save her people was too impatient for the change she so desperately wanted to occur naturally. Given time and the right stimulus, the people in that dark future just might see machines as equals, instead of the bringers of death Sky Net creates them to be.
# # #
Cameron turns and slowly walks back to the truck. Sarah looks worried, sitting uselessly behind the wheel having been unable to get past the blast doors. Presently she is nursing her sore hands from pounding on the entry system in frustration. By the time Cameron returns to the truck, Sarah has stopped rubbing them.
"John will be coming out soon." Cameron says flatly, opening the rear door and taking a seat in back.
"How do you know?" Sarah asks, turning in her seat to look at her.
"I received a communication from John Henry. This close to the mountain, I can receive his transmissions from inside."
"Whoa, tin miss! Are you saying your transceiver is working? I thought that was disabled when you were reprogrammed by the resistance."
"It was, but apparently John had that repaired along with the rest of me."
"Can you communicate with John Henry? Find out what John is doing in there."
"I already tried, but John Henry may have turned off his transceiver. I can no longer reach him."
"Damn!" Sarah turns striking the wheel with the palm of her hand causing her to wince in pain.
Sarah hears a quiet sniff from behind her and looks in the rear-view mirror. Cameron looks no different from just a second before, but her eyes are downcast. And despite her attempts to wipe away the tears, the redness around her eyes are a sure clue she's been crying. Sarah is fairly certain cyborgs don't have allergies, but then she wasn't expecting them to have emotions either.
# # #
They started the day with Callisthenics followed by a run around the property. Some of them getting a good laugh as their comrade's would accidentally step in a cow pat. By the end of the run they were all laughing as all of them had stepped in one by the time they got back to the farm house.
Former sergeant Kyle Reese was enjoying his role of keeping the people in their command disciplined. He wishes they could use the guns for some proper weapons practice, but even out here the sound of gunfire could draw unwanted attention. So after returning to the farm, he gives the people half an hour free time while he works out a rota for guard duty. While he works on that, he also decides he should find out who among them can actually drive despite them all now having licenses that say they can.
Outside, Richard Harmon quietly circulates among the people, probing gently to discover their opinion of the machine in their midst and seemingly accepted by their leaders. He never says anything that betrays his own prejudice to the other party. He finds that Wren has told many of her experiences in the future, believing firmly the girl who saved her was Cameron. Other tell stories of witnessing Allison in action during battle and not believing a human could what she did, until they saw Cameron arrive. Others express how if it weren't for the machines, they would have died in that last battle in the future. Richard gets the distinct feeling he's alone. Their are strong supporters, and some who don't care one way or another so long as the machines help them defeat Sky Net.
Disappointed, Richard Harmon continues circulating until eventually he finds some people sympathetic to his point of view. Through them he will begin to seed dissension and ultimately destroy the machine!
2009, May 20, Day 2 Of Freedom, Early Evening
John just stands there a few minutes trying to come to terms with it all. At least Weaver will now pay for her crimes. He hopes that will bring some peace to that future John who suffered because of that machine. Because, he's not certain if he will be at peace. Not for a long time to come.
"You know, despite the bad things she did, I don't think she is entirely evil." John Henry says. He gets no response from John so he continues. "She put you and the other humans ahead of her friendship with Natalie, and she put the welfare of young Savannah above her own desires. There is some good in her."
John looks at John Henry a moment, and nods his head. "Maybe," John says quietly, "but its not enough."
"You should go now. Your mother and Cameron are waiting for you outside. They are probably worried about you."
John smiles. "Yes. You are right. Good bye John Henry. Thank you for giving me back Cameron's chip. Even though I found the means to fix her, it is good to know I have her back."
"You're welcome. I promise, everything that is Cameron is on that chip."
John thinks a moment and then asks, "Would you do me a favor John Henry?"
John pulls the chip out of his pocket. "Hold onto the chip for me and when you have the time, collect Cameron's body from the desert hideaway. They both need to be kept someplace safe and secure until such time she might be needed. This place is better than the weapons cache for keeping her safe."
"You trust me to look after her for you?"
"I do John Henry."
John Henry tenderly takes the chip from his hand and slides it into his shirt pocket. It is nice to know John Connor trusts him.
"What about the encrypted file that's on it? Surely it must be important."
John looks down, frowning in deep thought.
"Maybe it is, but not to me. It's from a future that no longer exists. I'm letting her go and I'm going to start fresh. Cameron needs me, and dwelling on a Cameron who is dead will not help."
John Henry frowns with displeasure. Surely if Cameron went through the trouble of saving data to her chip while she could, then it had to be important.
"Look after her for me." John says.
"I will. Do you want me to carry out repairs on her like I did before?"
"Yeah, but this time I think either Cameron or myself should be here, maybe both of us. Collect what items you need, tools, raw materials, etc. There are some parts that Cameron hid away at our old home." He pulls a pencil stub out of his pocket and writes the address on the corner of a sheet of paper. "It's here, buried at the base of the retaining wall out back. She did manage to hide a few parts before mom began burning them. Also, if you need coltan, I know where there is a shipment at the bottom of a flooded quarry. And John Henry?"
"Thank you, for everything you've done."
John looks around the room. An awkward silence fills the space as the time for departure has come and neither knows what to say at this juncture. John Henry knowing the young man in front of him, and who he is, what he's been through, who he will one day be, does the only thing he can do.
John Henry turns and stands at attention, and brings his hand up in a salute. "Goodbye General."
John Connor returns the salute as smartly as he can and leaves, before he does something stupid, like cry, or hug the big friendly oaf.
Before leaving the underground complex, he only makes two stops. First in Weavers former office to pick up the new identities for himself and family. A large manilla envelop with passports, driver's licenses, and even credit cards with credit history for the three of them. John's second stop is the storage room that he used for privacy the first couple of days at Crystal Peak. Going to the locker he pulls out Cameron's bag and puts the shotgun back in the locker. He changes his clothes into something less rag tag and more civilian, but keeps the long trench coat.
He takes one more look at Cameron's open bag and the old pair of ballet slippers that belonged to Allison Young. He'll have to find some way to honor Allison's sacrifice, and maybe, as Judgment Day grows near, find some way to protect her and her family so she doesn't grow up an orphan. With any luck, no one will be an orphan because of a schizoid computer with megalomania.
Feeling the weight of his destiny and the events of the last several weeks on his shoulders, John walks a slow somber pace to the ground level and heads out through the open blast doors. He is reaching for the door nob to go outside when he hears the rumble of the blast doors closing behind him, ending another chapter in his life and before him, a door he can open on a new chapter, and a new life, with his mom, Cameron, and friends and allies to face the future.
"Time to go home." John says and steps through the door.
With a sigh of relief, Sarah watches her son exit the hanger and approach their vehicle.
As John walks across the open area between the entrance and the truck. His attention is caught by the wind snapping a faded flag. John grins when he sees it, wondering who brought the flag with them or whether they found an identical one when they got here. The message is very appropriate to what has happened.
"He's coming." Sarah says to her silent companion sitting in the back seat.
He walks up to the truck and puts the bag in one of the storage compartments. He then opens a back door and gets in sitting beside Cameron. He pulls out a large manilla envelope and hands each of them their new ID's, passports, and driver's license.
"Almost two hours exactly. Did everything go well?" Sarah asks.
"Everything went fine." John says sounding a little subdued.
"Are you going to tell us what was so important you had to come back here, and go in there alone?"
John grins. "Just taking care of some loose ends. Tell you about it later."
"Hm-mph," Sarah grunts. That isn't likely, she thinks. He's hardly said a word to me since he got back.
The three of them look over their new identification.
"Everything is there." John says to his mom. "John Henry was very thorough in getting us into the system. I've got a printout of our new history that we can study later."
"Where's John Henry?" Cameron asks. "Isn't he coming with us?"
"He's staying. He's going to keep an eye on Catherine and look for that Terminator, and John Henry will be able to monitor things and alert us when Sky Net rears it's head again."
Keeping an eye on Catherine? What the devil did John and that machine do in there? Sarah puts the thoughts out of her head for the time being and puts the truck in gear.
Sarah drives off down the long dirt track leaving the mountains behind them. Outside the hanger at Crystal Peak, the wind holds steady for a moment and the flag is held out straight displaying a coiled snake, and the words "Don't Tread on Me."
"Well now that is over with, what now?" Sarah says.
"We go home." John says, trying to hold back in the emotions that could overwhelm him.
"The farm for now. Then when things quiet down. We use our new identities and slip across the border into Mexico."
"And then?" Sarah prompts him, glancing at him quickly in the rear view mirror.
"Sky Net hasn't been stopped, just delayed. We will train and prepare for its arrival, because it will come no matter how hard we try to stop it. We've got the starts of an army, and I know the names of people who will aid in our fight in the future. It would be good to know where they are, and keep an eye on them."
Ask about me. A quiet voice asks inside Cameron's head.
"Does that include Allison Young?" Cameron asks, her face placid, showing no indication of why she is asking.
"Yes. Because without her, there would be no you." John gives her hand a gentle pat. "Right now, we could be leading up to the events that create your future. And we both know her role in that future."
Cameron nods her head, not certain if that answers her question. John sits back, not sure of why Cameron asked, yet pleased she accepted his answer.
Sarah smiles. Her son has grown up a hell of a lot. "I'm proud of you John. You are the man I always knew you would become. Some day you are going to have to tell me what happened to you in the future."
"Like what?" John asks from the back seat. He really doesn't want to talk about it. Not yet. Not ever, if he can help it.
Sarah thinks for a moment. John's avoided her direct questions keeping his comments very general. But there is this one thing that is nagging her.
"I heard you hooked up with a girl in the future. What was she like?"
Sarah watches her son through the rear-view mirror. At that moment she realizes what she said was the absolute wrong thing and maybe that it is what has had Cameron upset all day, as she sees a tiny frown on her face. That tiny frown speaks volumes.
Cameron also watches him, and gently lays her hand upon his. Without noticing her light touch, John turns his head and looks out the side window, remembering the last time he saw her.
He knew the end was near, as he leaned in to kiss her goodbye. She reached up and grabbed him with her good arm, pulling him close.
"I love you. I always have, John Connor, and I always will." She whispered to him, just before her hand slipped away.
He laid her gently on the floor and closed her eyes, and cried more tears than he thought was possible.
Sarah continues to watch her son in the rear view mirror. His head was turned away from Cameron, but Sarah can see the tears running from her son's eyes. Eventually John speaks.
"No." He says, wiping the tears from his eyes, his voice breaking, "The only girl for me is sitting beside me."
Cameron leans over and turns his head with her other hand, so he is facing her.
"Do you mean that?" She asks, with fear that it might not be true and hope burning that it is true.
"Yes I do." John says, his heart feeling broken. He can't lose her again.
Cameron watches his face a moment. All she sees is pain and love, and fear of being alone. She saw that expression once before, when she said good bye to future John. She told him that she loved him, before she even knew what love meant. She left him, alone and without friends, to help this younger John. The John she loves knowing what love is. Without thinking about it anymore, she kisses him, taking her time, enjoying the kiss, before finally pulling back.
"What was that for?" He asks, pleased, but embarrassed being kissed where his mom could see.
"Because." She answers mischievously. She isn't happy about what she knows, but she isn't angry with John anymore. It isn't good for John to be alone. Even when future John chose to be alone for his own safety and security. John needs friends, and more importantly he needs love, and she loves him.
He leans over and kisses her. He lingers longer than when she kissed him. She doesn't object.
"Why did you?" She asks with a twinkle in her eyes.
"Same reason." He answers with a grin.
This time they kiss each other, and don't stop until interrupted by Sarah clearing her throat extra loudly. They pull apart and sit like two very obedient children outside the principal's office. Sarah is glad to see that they are making up over what may have drove them apart, but there is a time and place for such things, and the time and place doesn't involve her being a spectator. She clears her throat loudly and speaks.
"You know when I look in my rear-view mirror, right now I wouldn't mind seeing a cop car with all of its lights flashing, or even an eighteen-wheeler bearing down on us like its going to kill, but the last thing I want to see is my teenage son making out with his girlfriend in the backseat. Keep the hormones in check until you've got some privacy, please. It is a two-hour drive before we hit anything resembling civilization."
"Sorry mom." John says as he and Cameron separate, though they still hold hands.
Privacy. It's something they both need to hash out what's troubling them both. Isn't there a motel just off the interstate near the farm? Damn. Putting my teenage son in a room with Cameron! I might as well as tell them to have sex when I want them to talk to each other! But I know they will, especially after that kiss. Sarah shakes her head. "I'm getting too old for this." She mumbles.
"What did you say, mom?" John says looking up quickly
"You're not old Sarah." Cameron says in a monotone. "You still have many viable years if you wish to procreate again. There are men that still find women in your age bracket very attractive who could perform such tasks. Kyle Reese would certainly be up for the job. He seems to be very keen on you."
Sarah's face goes beet red and John just sits there with his mouth open. Becoming self-conscience he slams his mouth shut, almost biting his tongue.
Sarah just glances at Cameron in the rear-view mirror and clears her throat. Cameron's got a lot to learn about giving compliments.
"Whom I date is none of your business tin-miss! Neither is whom I sleep with. Got it?"
Cameron nods her head, while beside her John is rolling about trying to hold back the laughter.
Sarah looks at John in the mirror, their eyes lock momentarily, and then he loses it. For the first time in days or weeks, he laughs a true honest laughter.
Cameron gives him a questioning look, but that makes him laugh even harder. The comment wasn't even that funny, but to be back with his family and to hear those innocent but sincere backward compliments from Cameron again. The only way he can stop laughing is to close his eyes and ignore the others for several minutes. He doesn't see the tiny smile turning up the corners of Cameron's mouth nor the crinkling around his mom's eyes that betray her smile.
# # #
John Henry is sitting at Catherine Weaver's desk watching the readout on her computer screen. He feels her prison is as secure as it can ever be outside of welding valves closed, but he finds it odd that she didn't immediately try to escape after reforming. He can't help but wonder if she wanted to be captured and locked away and chose to attack Connor to ensure his actions to prevent it. As much as he can believe that theory fits what facts he has. He cannot fathom the logic unless Catherine Weaver has finally learned guilt and seeks atonement through imprisonment.
The phone rings on Catherine's desk. He reads the caller ID but doesn't recognize the number. Curious, he picks up the receiver.
"John Henry." Kyle says into the phone at the Auldridge family farm. "It's Kyle Reese."
"Yes, it is. I'm sorry but this phone doesn't have push buttons."
"You have a mouth. Speak it."
"Oh right. Um, five, eighteen, two-thousand nine, day of freedom."
"What can I do for you Colonel? The general and his family left two hours ago, if you wanted to speak with him."
"No. Actually I have a question for you regarding the time travel device used by Sky Net."
"I'd be glad to answer any question you have."
Kyle describes the best he can what he witnessed at FOX Industries.
"That explains a lot." John Henry says, and tells him what happened at Crystal Peak.
"That doesn't sound good. Exactly how does the time travel device work, and please remember I'm not a genius so keep it simple."
"Very well. The TDE creates a wormhole to another point in space/time." John Henry explains. "It requires precise mathematics so the exit point of the wormhole appears in the right point in space and time. Accidents in math can occur and sometimes natural forces interfere, but the biggest cause of concern is at the exit point of the wormhole. It is designed to appear in a fixed point in space/time but space/time is still in motion which creates all kinds of irregularities from quantum level all the way up to full macro physics. To protect the traveler, an energy shield encapsulates him or her, keyed to their natural bio-electrical system. This sphere disappears shortly after exiting the wormhole which disengages and disappears from that point in space/time leaving the traveler unscathed from his journey or arrival in a new time and place. However, any items the person might have been wearing or carrying will vaporize. As we've since learned, the only exception is having a TDE at both ends of the journey to stabilize the exit of the wormhole allowing objects to travel."
"Right. Assuming I understood that, what happened the night we took down Sky Net?"
"The electric-magnetic cranes. The strongest force at the atomic and sub-atomic level is the electromagnetic force. It's the force that holds matter together. By opening up a wormhole, even one as small as produce by the TDE, inside the EM field, the energy of that field fed into the wormhole creating a power feedback into the TDE at Crystal Peak which kept Ms. Weaver from shutting down. Matter began falling into the opening at either end of the wormhole. The only thing Weaver could do was initiate another transfer which fed the power feeding in from wormhole exit at Fox Industries back into it, thus creating a loop. Now, according to Einsteins theory of relativity and the latest papers recently published on quantum physics and the theory of . . ."
Kyle sits in stunned silence as he feels a headache growing as John Henry continues his explanation.
". . . what might have occurred is the creation of a micro black hole and the explosion you observed was the energy expelled as matter collapsed. The expulsion of energy fed back through the connection to the TDE here creating massive damage."
A long silence goes by before John Henry asks, "Colonel Reese, are you still there?"
Kyle rubs his face, "I'm still here. I have one question to ask you. What part of the phrase, I'm not a genius, did you not understand?"
"I understood the statement and kept the explanation very simple."
"That was simple?" Kyle expels.
"Well, I left out the mathematics. Perhaps you'd like titles of some books to read."
"Never mind. Just tell me, can we expect any ill effects from traveling in time?"
"No. Even if the bubble collapsed in route, having a TDE at both ends of the journey stabilized both ends of the wormhole. Any ill effects would have shown up within days if not hours or minutes of your arrival."
"If scientist were able to create many of these devices with means of connecting to specific ones, much like using a telephone, humanity would be able to explore the galaxy with ease. It would just require resources to seed these devices on multiple planets in a short amount of time. Then man could simply step through an open wormhole and be on an alien planet in a few seconds."
"That's very interesting theory John Henry, and thank you. Now if you don't mind, I'm going to crawl into an aspirin bottle and take a nap before running out to get food for everyone. The natives are getting restless." Kyle grimaces. "Five days from now we are having a little celebration before pushing off for Mexico. You are welcome to join us."
"Thanks for inviting me, but I have duties to perform. Good bye Colonel."
Kyle Hangs up and finds some aspirin. It isn't until later when he realizes John Henry might have gotten confused by the invitation. Thinking the invite was for Mexico instead of the party, but when he calls back, there is no answer. John Henry is pursuing his duties.
2009, May 20, Day 2 Of Freedom, Late Evening
It takes a few hours to drive back to the farm, only stopping for a meal and gas during their long drive. Reaching the town just a few miles from their present abode, Sarah surprises her two passengers, when she pulls into a motel parking lot instead of taking the road leading to the farm.
"What are you doing mom?" John asks.
"If you are tired, I can take over driving." Cameron offers.
"It's a surprise." Sarah says, getting out of the truck to go inside to pay for their rooms. John is confused. The look on his mom's face was hard to read and one look at Cameron was enough to tell she is surprised by his mom's actions as well.
Sarah returns to the truck and drives them around to the back to where their rooms are located. They get out of the truck and Sarah hands John one of the keys.
"You two take that room. I'll take this one for myself."
John is a little surprised at this.
"Mom. What are you doing?"
"I'm not saying that I'm keen on what you two might do together left alone in a motel room, but you did a hell of a lot and went through a lot because you love Cameron. Now you got the privacy. And Cameron?"
Sarah's words die on her lips. How can she say what she wants to say without possibly hurting or embarrassing them both?
"If you are capable of loving him, well . . . be careful. Don't forget, he's my son." Is all she can think of saying without possibly making John more embarrassed than he possibly can be already.
"There's a twenty-four-hour bar and restaurant next door. If there is trouble, or you need me, that's where you will find me. And while you both have some privacy, talk things out. Despite what happened back there on the road it is apparent there are things you both need to say to each other." Sarah says before walking away leaving in her wake two surprised individuals.
"Mom?" John steps forward, but Sarah keeps walking away.
John thought he was surprised when his mom called Cameron his girlfriend, but this was by far more surprising. He decides, it's her way of showing she accepts his relationship with Cameron even if she doesn't like it. Maybe he was wrong about his mom. That maybe he shouldn't have given her the choice. After all, he only wrote that program to find out if his mom would finally trust him with his choosing Cameron. He's underestimated his mom, but with the things she said and did before he chased Cam's chip, he had to be sure. He owes his mom an explanation and an apology.
He's about to run after his mother when he hears the soft click of a latch and turns around in time to see Cameron disappear inside their motel room.
John stands there confused, concerned, worried about what will come next. Compared to all he's faced alone or with others. Against mighty armies of machines or against one acting on its own, seeking to destroy him or humanity. The hardest thing he is about to do is talk to the woman who loves him and explain his actions.
Sarah on her part doesn't look back, every step she's making is an effort as she heads for the bar. So it is to some relief that as she turns to open the door to the restaurant, she gets a glimpse of her son as he makes his move.
John takes a deep breath, and follows Cameron inside the room.
# # #
"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us." Alexander Graham Bell
Author's Note: Did you catch the reference to Stargate? ;) This chapter and the following were a single chapter in the original edition of Reunion, but thematically they were both different. This chapter symbolizes John putting away what was past, for good or for bad, so that he can move on. The next chapter symbolizes the new life he has embraced. John's going home but before he does, Babylon must fall!