For director James Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd & writer William Wisher, all of whom have
helped to create the terrifying world of 'The Terminator' & bring it to life on the big screen in 1984.
For actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose iconic role of the Terminator has helped to make him a
household name (in addition to acting, Arnold Schwarzenegger has also served as the Governor of the
State of California, running from November 17, 2003 to January 3, 2011).
For actors Franco Columbo, Robert Patrick, Kristanna Loken, Garret Dillahunt, Summer Glau, Shirley
Manson & Sam Worthington, all of whom have played Terminators in both films & television.
For actors Edward Furlong, Nick Stahl, Thomas Dekker, Christian Bale, Claire Danes & Bryce Dallas
Howard, all of whom have portrayed humanity's future saviors – John Connor & Kate Brewster.
For actors Michael Biehn & Anton Yelchin, who portrayed Kyle Reese – John Connor's father-to-be.
For actresses Linda Hamilton & Lena Headey, who portrayed waitress-turned-warrior Sarah Connor,
& have joined the ranks of strong, influential female characters in movies, TV & other media.
For all the good people over at Now, Dynamite Entertainment & Dark Horse, for giving the world of
'The Terminator' another successful home within the pages of their comic books.
For all the highly talented artists & animators at Clamp, for giving us such wonderful manga & anime
titles like 'Tokyo Babylon', 'Magic Knight Rayearth', 'Cardcaptor Sakura', & so many others.
To the loving memory of actor Paul Winfield, who played Lt. Traxler in the original 1984 'Terminator'
movie (Paul Winfield passed away on March 7, 2004 from a heart attack. He was 64 years of age).
CARDCAPTOR SAKURA vs. THE TERMINATOR:
FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE
2005, 2013 by Anthony Ogozalek
The ruins of Tokyo, Japan, 2030:
Once, Tokyo was a great metropolis of bustling life in Japan's Capital City with people walking around & casually shopped, ate, played & made business transactions with each other to get through the day before calling it a night. Crowded as it were, no one could ask for a better place to be than in the city of Tokyo, with people eager to visit whether they lived in Japan or came overseas.
Now, it was a ruined wasteland where people were fighting desperately for their lives against an enemy unlike any other they've ever faced previously.
They were fighting a war against their most rebellious progeny – the machines.
At one time, mankind used them to help build their major cities & towns, including helping to grow their daily rations such as food, clothing, medicines & other vital sustenance to ensure their survival. But now, their survival is what they're currently fighting for, ever since the computer system known as Skynet became self-aware & developed an intelligence unlike any the human race has ever seen in a computer or any other software they designed in the past. Learning at a geometric rate, this new computer system decided the fate of the whole human race in a micro-second.
That decision was complete annihilation, which was christened 'Judgment Day'.
In the early 21st Century, Skynet unleashed the world's nuclear arsenal upon the planet, wiping out major cities around the globe, killing billions simultaneously in one fell swoop. Those who had lived through the nuclear holocaust lived only to face something even worse – the war against the machines.
Mechanical monstrosities stormed the planet on every continent & country, scouring everywhere tirelessly & wiping out every trace of human life they come across without any mercy. Some searched on the ground in the form of tank-like machines with large treads that crushed everything underneath, from scrap metal to human bones. It stood about 30 feet high & had short stubs at its sides, each of which were armed with rotating twin plasma cannons that fired away fiercely at its enemies, mostly scoring direct hits on its foes before getting blown to scrap by a well-placed grenade. Aerial machines known as HKs (short for 'Hunter-Killers'), flying monstrosities that can hover like Harrier Jets armed with twin turbines & its own plasma cannons, scour the skies & rain down plasma bolts on their human foes, striking whole platoons until getting shot down by hand-held RPGs.
Worst of all were the Terminators – metal skeletal humanoids with glowing red eyes & hand-held plasma cannons in their hands. Some had one, while others carried two, one in each hand. Some of the humans held these weapons themselves, but due to the weight of them, only carried one as they were primarily made for the grips of the enemy who can handle them with ease.
It still didn't stop humans from seizing & using them, & in a war like this, they learn fast & adapt to their situations just like they were trained to. The phrase 'Any port in a storm' was never more true in this global fight for survival against a war that shouldn't even have started to begin with.
The earliest Terminator models – the T-600 series – were made of somewhat flimsy metal & equipped with rubber skin that really didn't disguise them too much as human. Plus, they were taken down easily by simple machine gun fire once they were spotted despite being armed with mini-gatling guns mounted on their arms.
But then the T-800 models came – better disguised & made of even tougher metal, making them too human & very hard to spot. Unless you get a real close look or let the dogs sniff them out, you'd never know who's a Terminator from your fellow humans, & a lot of the times it'd be too late.
Marching like literal tin soldiers, the Terminators spread across the ruined Tokyo landscape & unleash a barrage of plasma fire from their weapons along with their erected HK-Tanks & Aerials. Some were all skeletal, others were covered in cloned flesh, skin, hair & blood grown just for them. Some of these were untouched by any plasma fire, while others had pieces of flesh shot off, exposing the metal skeleton underneath. This hardly slowed them down, continuing with their assault regardless of what skin gets blown off. Only a well-placed plasma shot to either the chest or cranium puts them down & keeps them there.
And still they keep coming with no apparent end in sight.
Fortunately, the humans do the same despite having losses down the road, as they keep pressing in a desperate attempt to reclaim what is rightfully theirs – planet Earth.
In a secure location:
Soldiers & civilians work in unison to monitor the situation from their haven of a basement of some long-ago abandoned complex, having installed a base of operations & camp that was well-hidden from Skynet's prying eyes. Monitor screens of various shapes & sizes display the battle outside in the city ruins as operators tend to them & radio communications from their forces. Info gets passed onto everyone in the room regarding the situation & vital messages from troops in the fight.
One radio handler turns, rises & walks over to a trio of figures hidden in shadow in the back end of the room. He relays the message he received from one of the troops who had relayed it to him. The first shadowy figure nods in approval as the man heads back to his post & resumes his task. The figure – a woman – turns to her two companions behind her. She gets nods of approval out of both before she turns again, assessing the satiation & formulating a plan in her mind. While it gravely breaks her heart for the losses her squadron sustained, she does not yield & stays strong for everyone, including her two longtime friends standing right behind her. One was humanoid in shape, standing slightly taller than the woman is. Her other companion was a quadruped, his feet ending in clawed toes.
She holds her staff – medium pink in color with a circle on one end of it – firmly in her hands. The staff's circle held a golden star within, with a pair of mini angel wings on its sides.
After what seemed like an eternity, she announces her plan to her squadron, ready to put in into action.
The outskirts of Los Angeles, Early-Mid June, 1995:
Driving a 'borrowed' pickup truck, Sarah & John Connor race into the entrance of the steel mill & crash into a metal post, a metal forklift beam barely missed impaling either. A hijacked tanker by the Cryoco company from the T-1000 – a highly advanced mimetic polyalloy, or 'liquid metal' Terminator – crashes into the side of the entrance & cracks itself open like a large metal egg, spilling its contents of liquid nitrogen. The re-programmed T-800 Terminator – which John dubbed 'Uncle Bob', programmed to protect him – gets thrown by the crash's momentum as the T-1000 climbs out of the driver's cabin & into the frigid contents. It quickly gets covered in ice as the T-1000's movements get slower & slower by the second. Eventually it loses its left foot, breaking off like it was plaster, followed by its right foot. Unable to stand upright, the T-1000 falls on its right hand & knees with the former getting stuck to the floor. In raising it up, the hand breaks off before becoming still completely. From its distance, the T-800 grabs its handgun & aims it at the frozen monster's head.
"Hasta la vista…baby", the T-800 said, a phrase John had taught it, & fired a shot. The bullet hit the frozen T-1000 in the head, & the entire thing shattered into hundreds of pieces as it collapsed onto the floor. Knowing it was only a temporary victory, the T-800 & the Connors fled into the complex as the T-1000 thawed & re-formed itself into its original shape of a regular uniformed officer. Going deep into the complex itself, the T-1000 briefly fought & temporarily subdued the T-800 before going after Sarah Connor. Armed with a shotgun she required from the SWAT van they hijacked, she fires a shot at the T-1000's head & put a sizable hole in it, but did no other significant damage as it simply re-formed. Before Sarah can get another shot off, the T-1000 knocks it away & impales a finger-blade into her right shoulder, causing her to cry out as she gets pinned to the wall.
"Call to John", the T-1000 ordered her.
"No!", Sarah said defiantly.
"I know this hurts. Call John" To emphasize its point more, the T-1000 twists its pointed finger in Sarah's wound, making her cry out more & seeing if she'll crack. When she doesn't, the T-1000 extends its right index finger into a sharp point as it did with its left, holding it at Sarah's eyes.
"Call to John now", it orders a third time. Through the pain & threats, Sarah still remains highly defiant.
"Fuck you!", she says through clenched teeth. Only a timely intervention from the T-800 stopped Sarah from getting her eyes impaled, enabling her to escape death once again. Both Terminators fight fiercely before the T-1000 rammed a metal pole into the back of its opponent, shutting it down before catching up to the Connors on an upper level. Re-loaded with her shotgun, Sarah shot her impostor in the midsection just as John dived to one side for cover. She fired shot after shot at the T-1000, each one driving it back to the exposed edge with no railing. Below it was a drop into a vat of molten metal, guaranteed to melt anything down in moments.
Sarah aims her weapon at the T-1000 & fires.
She pulls the trigger again.
Sarah repeatedly squeezed the trigger of her weapon with no success, refusing to believe she was out when she had her pliable enemy right where she wanted him. Staring at it in disbelief, the T-1000 wagged a teasing finger briefly before advancing towards the Connors. It got a few steps until the T-800 (becoming back online from alternate power) returns with a grenade launcher in its good right hand & fires it after the Connors ducked for cover, the round hitting the T-1000 in its stomach. With a look of utter surprise, the top part of the T-1000 above its legs explodes into a misshapen glob before losing its balance & plummeting straight down into the vat of molten metal with a splash. Unable to escape, the T-1000 screams in protest as even it cannot withstand the searing heat. In its death throes, the pliable machine begins re-forming shapes it did previously, from Janelle Voight to the burly guard at Pescadero State Hospital, & so forth. Before long, it becomes an unshapable blob of gray metal & a face until it quickly melts & dissolves into nothing.
The dreaded T-1000 was no more.
The T-800 & the Connors stared down at the vat from above.
"Is it dead?", John asks.
"Terminated", replied the T-800.
John reaches into his backpack & pulls out a piece of metal Terminator arm – from the same one that tried to kill Sarah herself 11 years previous in 1984.
"Will this melt in there?", John asked.
"Yes. Throw it in", the T-800 said.
"Adios!", John said, throwing the metal right arm as it sinks & disappears into the vat below.
"And the chip", the T-800 added. John reaches into his pocket where said chip – a Terminator CPU – was in & tosses it down. The chip spontaneously combusts the second it hits the molten metal like a match.
"It's over", Sarah said, feeling relieved.
"No. There's one more chip", the T-800 said, pointing to & tapping its head. "And it must be destroyed also." It hands Sarah a rectangular device with buttons on it attached to a thick cable. "Here. I cannot self-terminate. You must lower me into the steel."
John shakes his head, not liking where this was going. He pleads to his metal friend & begs him not to go through with what it's planning, but the T-800 could not be dissuaded no matter how hard John tries to change its metal mind.
"It has to end here", the T-800 says, grabbing the chains.
"I order you not to go!", John says in a sobbing but forceful tone as his pleas become louder. "I order you not to go! I ORDER you not to go!"
A tear comes down John's left eye.
"I know now why you cry", the T-800 says, examining the tear with its finger. "But it's something I can never do."
Unable to help himself, John throws his arms around the T-800's midsection in an embracing hug as the machine does so itself with its good arm. Turning to Sarah, she extends her hand in a friendly embrace & the T-800 accepts, shaking her hand in gratitude. Sarah found it somewhat ironic: the first Terminator she encountered in 1984 was programmed to kill her. Now, 11 years later, she's shaking hands with one as if it was an old friend.
Life is like that sometimes.
When the moment has passed, the T-800 resumes its semi-suicide & grabs a handful of chains which will send it down into the vat below.
"Goodbye", it told the Connors in as passionate a tone as a cyborg could have. Pressing a button, Sarah activates the chains & positions the T-800 over the vat before pressing another to lower it down. Slowly but surely, the T-800 gets closer & closer to the vat of molten metal to suffer the same fate as the T-1000. When its feet touches the sultry liquid, it starts to burn as fire ignites its clothing beginning with its boots & working its way up. Soon, only its good right arm & hand are left visible, & right before it disappears completely, the hand displays a 'thumbs up' gesture from what John had taught it after resetting its CPU chip.
Once it was gone, John hugged his mother as Sarah returns the gesture to comfort her son & held him there for a while. But she didn't keep the embrace for long: she knew that although the workers had all fled the area, she knows they'll return & with law officials, something they really don't need to deal with right now, being as to how they're both fugitives.
Letting John know the bottom line, both mother & son started to flee the steel mill, searching for any kind of transportation they can find to get them away.
Los Angeles, Lake Cachuma Recreation Area, June 10, 1996, one year later:
Located northwest of Santa Barbara, the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area was a peaceful piece of land where one can easily disappear to if one needed to escape the insanity that is the city of L.A..
Especially if you're a fugitive from the law for multiple charges, including attempted escape from a secure facility, arson, property damage, & even a slight order of murder on one's resume.
Like Sarah Connor & her son John currently are.
Dressed in her favorite army fatigues, Sarah stands outside her 'rented' two-story home located deep in Lake Cachuma on the porch, looking over the horizon on a sunny morning with a cup of hot java in her mug. A pair of dark shades with round lenses cover her eyes as protection from the sun. It would be doubtful if anyone would stumble upon this area & discover the house as it was a private resort & all, but there's still always a chance of it happening by some strangers out for a nature hike or some teenage kids out looking for a good time. It's why she keeps her shades on in the first place; to hide her identity from folks like these in case they should recognize her as the psycho bitch who went & escaped from Pescadero State Hospital, blowing up the Cyberdyne Systems facility & killing a man who worked there.
It's also why she keeps an M16A4 Assault Rifle strapped to her shoulder at all times, with an AMT Hardballer .45 APC Handgun & large survival knife in its sheath for good measure. A belt of ammo & other survival tools doesn't hurt either.
Other types of handguns & rifles with ammunition were kept in a secure basement of the house, secluded from prying eyes should anyone attempt to break in in a robbery. Sarah & John made sure it looked like any other part of the house, hence all their training from various survivalists, but neither one was taking any chances.
Not when machines from the future can literally show up out of nowhere & try to kill them, most notably her son.
A whole year has passed since she escaped from Pescadero State Hospital with her son along with a re-programmed Terminator sent back to protect John from the more-advanced T-1000 & their raid on Cyberdyne Systems at 2111 Kramer Street before the final showdown at the steel mill on the outskirts of Los Angeles where both the T-1000 & T-800 met their demise. Ever since then, not a single new Terminator (or old) came stalking around to finish what two others previously failed to do.
And Sarah Connor still doesn't feel safe.
She starts to wonder if she or her son ever will: ever since that night at the Tech-Noir dance bar on Pico Boulevard in 1984 where the first Terminator (dressed in black boots, beige pants, blue jacket with a black upside-down triangle on the back, black undershirt with colored patterns & fingerless gloves) attempted to kill her with a handgun that had laser sightings followed by an Uzi-9 Millimeter, her life had taken a strange but dangerous turn; aside from the attack at Tech-Noir, the Terminator did what no other person, sane or not, would.
It attacked a local police station – West Highland Police Station 53 – dressed in a black jacket, gloves & shades. Carrying both an assault rifle & shotgun, it drove its car into the front entrance, taking it & the cop behind the desk out. During its raid, it killed 17 police officers total, including Lt. Traxler & his right-hand man Detective Vukovich.
Its final assault on her was at the Tikki Motel, where she & her protector – a soldier named Kyle Reese, also from the future – hijacked a pickup truck & tried to escape it. Even with the use of pipe bombs (which Kyle knew how to make in his future time), they couldn't destroy it until they reached an abandoned factory where Kyle made one last-ditch effort to stop it. Even devoid of its flesh & blown in half by Kyle's last pipe bomb, the T-800 still put up a good fight & pursued Sarah into the factory until it was finally defeated when she crushed the top half of it in a hydraulic press.
When all was said & done, Sarah Connor faced & survived impossible odds thanks to Kyle Reese, her protector & lover.
But it came with a price: Kyle's last pipe bomb that literally blew the Terminator in half had cost him his life, leaving Sarah to fend against it on her own, & with a leg that got a piece stuck in it.
After her terrifying ordeal, Sarah quit her job at Big Jeff Diner, emptied out her account, bought a jeep, Magnum revolver & big guard dog (Kyle had told her once that they used dogs to help them sniff out Terminators in the future) & headed south for the border, eventually joining up with Enrique Salceda & his family.
If you really think about in an ironic sense, the Terminator did succeed in its mission: it killed Sarah Connor's good-natured personality as a waitress & turned her into a hardened warrior, preparing both herself & her son John for the apocalypse she knew was coming. The Terminator took everything Sarah held dear: her job, her two best friends Matt Buchanan & Ginger Ventura, her livelihood & any chance for a normal life with her son.
She should be grateful it also didn't take her life, as it was programmed to do.
Because that & her son was all she had left.
Then, 11 years later, when Sarah was still in Pescadero, Skynet sent another Terminator through time, but this one was programmed to strike at John himself. Luckily, like before, a lone protector was sent to keep John safe from it. She just never thought it'd be a re-programmed Terminator that looked nearly exactly like the one that tried to kill her over a decade ago.
A stretch of time doesn't faze those metal monsters, no matter how many years it's been since their last encounter with one, & neither one can tell, much less predict, when the next one will be.
All they can do is be ready at a moment's notice like they trained themselves to.
Sarah took another savory sip of her java & set the cup down on the table next to her. Soon as she does, a slight rustling in the woods catches her ears & almost in the blink of an eye, she unslings her assault rifle & positions it in front of her. Peeking through the rifle's scope, she sees where the rustling is coming from.
Good thing John's in the house & in his room, she thought. If he hears or sees me with my rifle aimed, he'll know to stay low until I give him the all-clear.
"Who's out there?", she demanded. "It's only fair to warn you that I have an assault rifle with a built-in scope aimed at your position! I'm only saying this once: either you show yourself to me right this instant, or I'll put a bullet in your skull from where you stand! You won't be warned a second time, so get your ass out in the open right now!"
"Sarah? Don't shoot – it's me!", the voice, a female's, replies.
Even though she kept her rifle aimed, Sarah sort of relaxes when she hears the voice, as it sounds very familiar to her.
Good god! Is that who I think it is?, she thought.
The mystery female reveals herself from a grovel of bushes, both of her hands raised in complete surrender. It was a black woman in her 30s or 40s, with tightly braided hair. She wore a yellow short-sleeved shirt, white pants & shoes & wore a safari hat on her head to keep the heat off it.
Sarah Connor could hardly believe her eyes – the woman was Tarissa Dyson, wife (now widow) of Miles Bennet Dyson, a one-time employee of Cyberdyne Systems who lost his life blowing up the very building he once worked at.
What in the world is she doing here? And how did she even find us?, Sarah pondered, looking around where Tarissa stood at.
"Don't worry, Sarah – I came here all by myself!", Tarissa assured her.
Sarah slowly lowers her rifle & gestured with her head.
"Come inside", she ordered her.
Nodding, Tarissa lowered her arms & quickly made her way to the house.
Five minutes later:
John came down once Sarah was fairly certain it was safe for him to. He, Sarah & Tarissa all sat at the main dinner table in the kitchen, with Sarah serving John a glass of juice & Tarissa some of the same java she herself had. A plate of freshly-baked biscuits rested in the center, & helped themselves to one.
"Not bad, Sarah", Tarissa says, taking a bite of hers. "Never knew you could cook so well."
"There's a lot you still don't know about me, Tarissa", Sarah replied. "But I'm guessing you didn't come all this way out here just to taste a sample of my baking skills. You want something from me. What is it?"
"And how did you even know where to find us?", John asked, dressed in the same kind of army fatigues as his mother.
Tarissa wasn't taken aback from Sarah's tone. She'd gotten used to it since she had stormed her house last year with an assault rifle & shot her husband in the shoulder, wanting to kill him for devising an artificial intelligence which would one day become the computer known as Skynet & wage its war on mankind. All Sarah wanted to do was to prevent it with one kill, but just couldn't bring herself to go through with murdering another human being, regardless of what he might or even might not be held accountable for.
Luckily John & the T-800 arrived to help put a stop to it if she hadn't already.
Tragically, Miles died anyway when he set off the detonators he, Sarah, John & the T-800 placed in the main office of the Cyberdyne building. The Dysons & Connors stayed away from each other for just over a year, not having any contact since.
"With some help from your friend Enrique, I was able to locate you", Tarissa explains. "I sent some coded messages only he & his family would be able to understand & without them being traced back to its origin. As to why I'm here, I'm afraid you misunderstand me. I didn't come here to want or even ask anything from you. I came here to tell you that your task still isn't done yet."
That got Sarah & John's full attention, & they both turn to her.
"What do you mean, Tarissa?", John asked. "Every piece of Terminator technology that we came across – the arm, the chip, the T-1000 & even the T-800 that protected me – were all dunked into the vats over at the steel mill just last year! There should be no trace of it left anywhere! My mom & I saw to that! Didn't we, mom?"
"Of course we did, John", Sarah said, turning to Tarissa again. "So how can it be that our task 'still isn't done yet'? Was there something we missed?"
"In a manner of speaking, there is", Tarissa says. "A few days ago at a café, I overheard some business execs mention Cyberdyne Systems, & I decided to discreetly eavesdrop onto their discussion. What I heard from them chilled me to the bone: a disc of all that machinery's statistics were placed on it & now rests in a secure location somewhere in…"
"Holy shit, mom!", John snapped, interrupting her. "We never stopped to even consider on that possibility of someone storing that Terminator tech on a disc or computer somewhere!"
"No John, we never did", Sarah said, still eyeing Tarissa. "I take it that Miles was never informed of this either?"
"He had absolutely no clue", she says, shaking her head. "When his superiors first brought that arm & chip into Cyberdyne & my husband asked about where they got it from, they simply told him…"
"'Don't ask'", all three say in unison, with Sarah nodding.
"Dammit!", Sarah cursed. She stared at Tarissa. "Tarissa, do you know where in Los Angeles they might have that data kept at?"
"That's the problem, Sarah", she explains. "The data on that disc isn't in Los Angeles. Hell, it isn't even anywhere in the country!"
"You mean to say it's overseas somewhere?", John asks. Tarissa nods.
"Yes. As I was going to say before, it's at a secure location in the Shorai No Tech Center in Tokyo, Japan. It's an overseas branch of Cyberdyne – a sister company, you could say. Cyberdyne went belly-up & bankrupt after your raid on it, & those higher-ups felt the data wasn't safe in L.A. or anywhere in the United States, so they sent it overseas to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring again."
"'Shorai No Tech Center'?", John wondered.
"It makes sense, John", Sarah explains. "You see, 'Shorai No' in Japanese literally means 'future' in English. Goddammit, those people have dynamite over there, & we need to go & put its fuse out before it explodes in their faces, followed by the rest of the world! Start packing a bag, John – we're leaving immediately for Tokyo, Japan!"
"But mom, taking a boat would take too long for us to get there!", John argued. "Who knows what might happen before we even arrive! And taking a plane would no doubt get us noticed by the local authorities! We're still wanted fugitives, don't forget!"
"I know that, John, but we don't have any choice! Somehow or other, we're going to have to risk being spotted!"
"And if we somehow do get caught? Then what, huh?"
Sarah stared at John hard, as he did the same as if daring his mom to challenge him.
"Transportation won't be a problem", Tarissa tells them, defusing the heated debate as mother & son eased. "Enrique's acquired a flight on a private field not far from here. He's even asked me to take you there in my car."
"Will it take us the whole way there?", John asks.
"No. It's a small plane, so it's going to have to make a stop in Hawaii to refuel. But you'll be going the rest of the way by motorboat, one that'll be all ready & waiting for you once you arrive. Your plane leaves tonight at sundown, so you two ought to use this time to get yourselves geared up."
Good old Enrique – he always plans ahead. Just like me, Sarah thought with some satisfaction.
"John…", Sarah starts to say.
"Yeah yeah, I know the drill", John picked up, slamming a fist into his hand in a fit of rage. "Damn it all – I thought it really was all over! Shit!"
Sarah approaches John & embraces him in a motherly fashion.
"John", she says to him in a compassionate tone. "I'd like for nothing better than for it to be all over as well – the running, the fighting, all of it. All I ever wish to do is to live peacefully & raise you like any mother would do her child. But circumstances far beyond our control is preventing that, & for that one reason alone, we have to ever remain vigilant to make sure that the world doesn't end – not for us, not for Tarissa & her two kids, not for anyone. And John?"
"For what it's worth, I'm glad you came to help get me out of Pescadero. Just because you're too important, it still doesn't mean that you should be without your mother by your side. No child should ever have to endure that. I love you, John. I always did, & I always will."
John kisses his mother & they hug, sharing a loving embrace.
"I know you do, mom. I love you too", John says in the same way. He pulls away from her. "Give me an hour or so, & I'll have my essentials packed – no weapons."
"That's my boy", Sarah said with a smile. "And let's change into something less conspicuous than these fatigues."
"I got just the thing", John says, smiling back as he races upstairs.
"Sarah?", Tarissa says.
"Tarissa, I didn't mean what I said as any offense to you", Sarah tells her. "Not a day goes by that I don't feel for your two kids, having lost their father & all…"
"Please, Sarah. Don't go there. All I ask is that you & John make sure Miles' sacrifice isn't in vain."
"It won't. You have my word. Miles was a brave man for what he did, & we're going to fulfill your wish…and his."
Tarissa didn't know what to say to that, so she doesn't.
"I'll pick you two up in six hours", she said.
"We'll be ready", Sarah replied as Tarissa made her way out.
Once she was out of sight, Sarah went to get herself ready as John currently is.
Los Angeles, 2029:
The Lab Complex was humming with life. The Time Displacement Equipment charged up & was already glowing white all over the room, which was a huge circular area that only had one entrance to it: a metal platform that took one to the center of it with a row of lights on three edges at the end. On both top & bottom of the room, twin cylinders slid up & down into position, with the bottom one that stopped right underneath the platform's edge & the top one hanging over several feet above. They were round on both ends, & they also hummed & shone with life. To the left was an oval window that revealed a control panel. Inside of it were several T-800 Terminator units at the console as each one overlooks the display & checks to see if the time & place they need to send one of their own back is the exact one their master Skynet instructed them to set.
The date of it says May 12, 1984.
It is the exact date. Like always, they carry out their instructions flawlessly.
Each Terminator in the control room was devoid of flesh.
The one standing in the middle of the platform, however, was not.
Covered in artificially grown muscle, flesh, skin, hair & blood, this T-800 Terminator was naked with a menacing face & short, wavy brown hair. It stood like a statue in the middle of the platform, as it waited to be sent back to the date on the console to carry out its main objective.
To find Sarah Connor, John's mother, & terminate her.
The lights started shining its brightest now.
Then an explosion occurred, & the lights started dimming & then flickered off.
In the control room, the door to it was blown off by a grenade before several Resistance fighters barged in & started firing away with their plasma blasters, knocking down several Terminators as the general alarm sounded with a blaring noise that echoed through the complex. The T-800s responded in kind by sending in official reinforcements, beginning a brutal shootout between man & machine. Both sides take losses as the battle escalates in intensity, leaving bodies organic & mechanical laying on the steel floors. Men shout orders to each other, while the Terminators consult each other without saying one syllable – at least not orally.
The naked T-800 in the Time Displacement Chamber makes its way out of the room & opens the round door which blocks its path. When it slides open, it sees a lone soldier in gray fatigues, blue eyes, & lighter brown hair that was slightly shorter than its own was. He had a plasma blaster in his hands & several grenades on his person.
His name tag says 'Reese'. Kyle Reese.
Both combatants stare at each other hard.
"Going somewhere, asshole?", Reese says, aiming his weapon at the T-800.
Kyle never gets a shot off: like a large cobra, the T-800 lunges at Reese & knocks away his plasma blaster with its left hand, the weapon skidding across the floor & currently out of Kyle's reach. It then goes for Kyle himself with a right fist, aiming for his face. Kyle ducks out of its path a split-second early, avoiding getting his head splattered like an overripe fruit. He puts distance between himself & his foe in order to get some breathing room. He lunges for his plasma blaster, but the T-800 grabs him by the back of his uniform & throws him away with ease like he was nothing more than a child's toy. Reese skidded across the floor for several yards before coming to a stop at a portion of the wall. The T-800 stalks towards him at a great speed, coming at him in a short time. Desperately reaching his uniform, Kyle takes out a hidden handgun which is actually a hand-held grenade launcher. Firing a shot, the hit strikes the Terminator in the chest & exposes a portion of its metal skeleton beneath. The blast does stagger & knocks it down, but still doesn't stop him. In almost no time, the T-800 rises to its feet again & continues its attack on Kyle, its midsection melted & devoid of flesh. Reese fires again, but the T-800 dodges this time & the shot goes off to one side, hitting only the wall behind it. He continues firing at his oncoming enemy, but the Terminator avoids each & every shot Kyle fires at it, never hitting it once.
When next Kyle fires his weapon, it does nothing except click.
It was empty.
Shit!, Kyle thought with rage as he dodges a right fist by moving to his own right. The T-800 again snatches Reese by his uniform in the back & flings him through the air in the opposite direction, the soldier bracing himself for the hard impact after getting thrown a great distance.
The Terminator was about to pursue him again, but it stops & spots something laying on the floor where Kyle was seconds ago. Just before Reese went on another flight, he pulled a grenade & let it rest at the feet of his metal enemy. The T-800 tried to put some distance before it went off, but it was too little, too late: the grenade exploded with great force that the T-800 gets thrown itself a distance that lands it only inches from Kyle, who ducks his head to avoid the blast & the heat, never knowing he was spared death by getting crushed by his metal foe.
When Kyle lifts his head, he finds the T-800 laying only an inch next to him, its metal chassis all devoid of flesh except on its forearms, bottom half of its legs & right half of its face.
And only a few feet ahead of both of them was his plasma blaster.
Like a leopard, Kyle leapt for his weapon but the T-800 lashed out with its right arm & knocks him off-balance. Down it may be, the thing was far from out & it rises off the floor as Kyle scrambles to get his hands on his weapon & does.
Unfortunately, the Terminator gets his hands on him at that same time.
Turning him around, the T-800 holds him with its right hand as its left one grabs hold of Kyle's weapon. While it does, Reese fires off a shot that hits the Terminator square in the arm at the elbow, blowing off the left arm. It falls with a clang to the floor with the hand still clutching the weapon which leaves Kyle without it again.
Although minus half its left arm, the T-800 was anything but defeated.
With its one good arm, it slams Kyle against the wall by his lapels & stares him down with red glowing eyes.
"Where is John Connor?", the T-800 asks in a voice as mechanical & cold as its own body.
"Go fuck yourself!", Kyle replied with equal malice. His answer got him some pressure placed on his chest by the Terminator's hand, causing Kyle to cry out in pain.
"I have detailed files on human anatomy", the T-800 said. "I will continue to cause you great pain until you tell me. Once again…where is John Connor?"
When the Terminator still doesn't get an answer from its quarry, it puts more pressure on Kyle which makes him cry out further.
"Hey!", shouted a voice. "You want John Connor?!"
Turning to its left where the voice came from, the Terminator sees a man in gray fatigues like Kyle's own, dark brown hair that was partly spiked, & scratches on the left side of his face. On his chest was a name that said 'Connor'.
The Terminator has found its primary target, John Connor. Several more soldiers stood behind him.
All of this was deciphered in a micro-second before Connor blows the top part of its head off with his own plasma blaster, leaving the exposed metal cranium smoking before collapsing to the floor with a clang where its left arm & Kyle's weapon lay, releasing said soldier from its grip.
"He's right here!", Connor finishes, staring at the deactivated T-800 as several of his men go to assist Kyle Reese. Helping him over, Kyle insists that he's fine & slings his weapon after a soldier hands it over to him.
"You all right?", Connor asks.
"I'll live", Kyle replied.
"Hey…what'd I tell you about taking unnecessary risks like that?", Connor asks firmly.
"That T-800 had to be stopped, Connor. What did you think I was going to do?"
"It already was stopped when we wiped out the controls to the Time Displacement Equipment. You went after it alone, & nearly got killed doing so! You should've taken some of my men with you for backup instead of thinking you're some kind of super-hero to deal with it yourself!" Connor's tone goes a little softer. "Reese, listen to me…you're a lot smarter than that, & one of the best in the field under my command. Since rescuing you from that Skynet camp over a decade ago, you've hardly disobeyed an order from me before. Kyle…you're too important to me. To all of us. We need you out there."
Kyle Reese felt a pang of regret for his actions. John Connor saved him & his young companion Star from one of Skynet's headquarters after a failed attempt to kill John himself when the T-800 had made its first appearance – the same one Kyle Reese had just did battle with.
John was right: he hardly disregarded his orders in the past, except for under the most extreme circumstances in the battlefield. As to why he would do so now, Kyle really had no excuse.
Reese hung his head slightly, ashamed.
"You're right, Connor. It was stupid. I am sorry", he apologizes.
Kyle half-expected Connor to scold him further, but does something he didn't expect of him.
He smiles, & places his hands on his shoulder.
"Hey, don't sweat it", he says. "Even the most experienced soldier can still learn something new every day. I just want you to be more cautious out there. None of us can afford to lose you now. Deal?"
Kyle smiles himself.
"It's a deal, Connor", he says. "Hey…what say we blow this place to smithereens?"
Both Connor & Reese grin widely.
"Now you're talking sense!", Connor says, facing his men. "Boys…plant the bombs, & then let's all watch the fireworks go up!"
"You got it, Connor!", a soldier says, turning to the rest. "You all heard the boss, folks! Let's get to work!"
Nodding enthusiastically, everyone got busy, including Connor & Reese.
Resistance HQ, 30 minutes later:
Kate Connor (formerly Brewster) & Barnes wait for Connor's return, along with soldier Star, Kyle Reese's mute companion. Kate had a head of luscious red hair that reached her shoulders & kept in a trimmed fashion from a pair of scissors found at an old warehouse. She wore a dark undershirt under her own fatigues, & a plasma rifle was slung on her shoulder. Barnes was a black man with a goatee on his face that seemed to be made out of stone. His muscles were no less impressive either, & they've helped him send a good number of Terminators to the ground – along with his own plasma rifle that also hung on his shoulder.
Star was a young black adult dressed in fatigues & a jacket, similar to the attire she had on when she'd been rescued by Connor at one of Skynet's HQ along with Kyle Reese himself. She had a frizzle of hair like she did when she was younger, but done in a more stylish way. Despite her inability to speak, she'd been quite an asset in the battlefield, having some kind of extra sense that warns her of when danger approaches, a tactic that helped keep Kyle Reese alive plenty in the past long before either had joined the Resistance. Like Kate & Barnes, Star has a plasma rifle, but it wasn't on her shoulder.
It lay right next to her in her hands, with the butt end resting on the floor.
Her arms folded to her chest, Kate waits with a worried look on her face as Barnes takes notice of.
"Hey, come on, Kate", he says to comfort her. "Star & I are worried about John & the others too, but you know he'll come back. Trust me…he's been in a lot tougher scrapes than this in the past."
Kate looks at him.
"I know, Barnes", she says softly. "His unlimited bravery & resourcefulness has seen to it. But I can't help but wonder every time he goes out into battle against the machines. I mean, they've been trying to kill my husband long before he was even born, for Christ's sakes! And every time he defeats them, they always come up with new ways to try & put an end to his existence, be it here in the past, present or future! I at times wonder if we'll ever find a way to put an end to Skynet for good! We've all lost so much & so many in our lives: John lost his mother, his foster parents, & everything else that he cherished! I myself fared no better: that filthy Terminatrix killed my fiancé Scott Mason, my father Robert Brewster & most of our would-be lieutenants who don't exist now because of it…"
Kate takes a breathe as Star walks up to her & Barnes before she resumes.
"And the worst part of it is?", she says with tears rolling down her cheeks. "Every time we think we know exactly what's going to happen to go & put a stop to Skynet & its band of Terminators, it pulls a fast one on us, conjuring up god-only-knows-what to try & wipe the rest of us out! More often than not, I've wondered – when is it all going to end? I mean, really end?"
More tears flow from Kate's eyes, & she puts a hand to her face as she begins to sob softly.
Star places her rifle next to the wall & approaches Kate, offering her comfort in her arms as she opens them in an open invitation. Kate accepts & buries her face in Star's shoulder, sobbing anew as both ladies embrace in a hug of sisterly love. Barnes watches the events in silence: he's had his own share of losses, most notably his brother who was killed in a bombing on a mission over ten years ago, with Connor being the only survivor of that attack. Angry still that he is about his brother's death, he would never be so with Connor: it was he who lead him, Kate, Blair & everyone else who stayed with him to victory after victory against the machines, be they little or big. When General Ashdown planned to bomb Skynet Central where Kyle Reese, Star & other human prisoners were still held at, Ashdown was all but indifferent to the casualties the attack would've caused had Connor not stepped up, giving Barnes & everyone else a reminder of what it is they were all fighting for in the first place.
Their humanity, as well as their lives.
It was one of the many traits Barnes admired Connor for – same with Kate.
And it's why he'd go to Hell & back with Connor if he ever asked Barnes to do that without even a moment's hesitation.
A chorus of hard bangs at the door to the room put everyone on alert as they all instinctively went for their weapons, putting their grief & thoughts aside. Then a voice on the other side of the door put them at ease.
It was a voice Kate waited to hear, & she smiled.
"Come in!", she called out.
The door opened to allow John Connor & Kyle Reese inside. As soon as they came into view, Star was the first to act & ran over to Kyle, embracing him in a warm hug.
"I take it you missed me, huh Star?", Kyle asks with a smile. She pulls back with a smile of her own & nods. Kyle places a warm hand on her cheek. "Mission accomplished!"
Star & Kyle grinned big.
Kate does the same with John, embracing in a hug. When he pulls her back, he sees her eyes are wet.
"You okay, Kate?", John asks her.
"I just missed you, is all", she replied.
"The war's getting to you, isn't it?", John asked politely, not fooled.
"You know me too well, John…yes, I'm afraid it is. Sorry…I can't help it."
John pulls her closer so that their lips are only an inch apart.
"Please don't be, Kate. This war is getting to everybody", John says in a passionate tone. "But I promised myself as soon as the bombs started falling down on us so many years ago that I would never stop fighting. And I know that you wouldn't either, because you have me at your side. It's one of the reasons as to why I can endure anything that Skynet can throw at us, no matter how hard or fast that assault is. Truth be told, I doubt I could've lasted this long in this war if I didn't have you in my life, or vice versa. And for that, Kate Connor, I am eternally grateful."
John knew how to soothe Kate, & she smiles.
"The feeling's mutual", she said, on the verge of kissing her husband when there was another loud banging at the door.
"Connor? It's Williams!", the voice said.
"Perfect timing", John whispers to Kate, who grins as he calls out. "Come in, Blair!"
The door opens to reveal an Asian woman dressed in a pilot's fatigue, complete with boots. She walks over to the Connors as they separate from their embrace.
"Sorry if I was interrupting anything", Blair said, her voice in an accent.
"No worries, Blair. We were just enjoying the fruits of our success with our current mission", John said. "The Time Displacement Equipment Chamber we found was deactivated, & blown to the scrap heap with all the Terminators in it where they belong. That includes a T-800 from going back into the past to try & alter the future."
Blair smirks pleasingly.
"Nothing less from you, Connor. And speaking of missions, you've just got yourself another."
"How so? Explain."
"At about five or ten minutes ago before you & Reese returned, we've picked up on an urgent radio transmission of a Terminator assault – a really heavy one."
"Did they say where?", Kate asked.
"They did. The radio SOS we got was coming all the way from Tokyo."
"Tokyo?", John, Kate, Barnes & Kyle all say in unison.
"You are referring to Japan's Capital City, correct?", Kate asked. Blair nodded.
"The very same, Miss Connor", Blair replied. "Not only was it from Japan, but they were calling for assistance from your husband. In fact, they were practically begging for John's help!"
"Were you able to get in touch back with them to find out why, Blair?", John asked.
"Before we could, the broadcast got cut off at the source, but not before we heard a whole bunch of people screaming in fear & agony. After several minutes of trying, we got no further reply back. Whatever's going on over there, John, it's nasty – real nasty!"
The group of half-dozen Resistance fighters stare at each other, unsure of what to say.
It was Barnes who breaks the silence.
"John, not that I don't feel for the Japanese, I do…but think about this, man. You've got your own duties to perform here on this side of the Pacific! Besides, none of our jets can make it all the way across the ocean without them either losing their fuel or getting shot down by H-Ks, or who-knows-what-else may be out there! Are you sure you want to partake in a task like this?"
"Barnes, I know what you're saying", John said. "It is quite a stretch from here to Tokyo, & the ocean is undoubtedly filled with dangers from below & above the waves – some we know, others we probably don't yet. But to simply just ignore their cry for help & do nothing will only prove that we are no better than the machines we're fighting to reclaim this planet from. Long ago, we've all taken a solemn blood oath that we, as the true rulers of this planet, would never kill another person, much less disregard a call for help for other human beings, regardless of their sex, race or nationality. If the machines are hitting Tokyo as hard as Blair says they are, then something must be going on over there – something big. And I've no doubt that Skynet plans on using whatever they find over there on us over here once they've obtained it."
"It makes sense, John", Kate said. "You & I are the two main obstacles in Skynet's path of world devastation, & whatever it finds in Tokyo or the surrounding area, it'll target both of us first with it."
"And crush the Resistance in both body and spirit. All the more reason to get there at our earliest convenience." John turns to Blair. "Have we got any planes that'll take us over the Pacific?"
"We've got that old B-52 Bomber stashed in the hangar", Blair said. "It's old, but it'll do the job. Plus, I've added some special modifications if we run into trouble along the way. My staff & I can have it ready for you within the hour."
"Good. Get to work on it – I'll need you to help me pilot the thing."
"On it", Blair said, exiting the room.
"Barnes, you & Kyle are coming with me", John continued. "Gather any willing volunteers to man the guns & other weapons on our trip. Once we set down in Tokyo, Kyle & I will go alone while you help Blair pilot the thing back home. Just follow her instructions, & you'll do fine. Star, I need you here again to stay with Kate & protect her."
Star replies by saluting as any soldier would his/her superiors. Kyle couldn't suppress a smile, nor could Star.
"Kate…", John started to say but she hushed him with a finger to his lips.
"Not another word, oh great leader of the Resistance", she says. "As much as we tried to fight or avoid it in the past, this is our destiny. Even Skynet itself can't change that, despite how hard it's tried. It's your duty to lead humanity to victory over the machines, & it's mine to be your wife & second-in-command of this war. I stopped fighting that a long time ago."
John smiles at that.
"But not the war itself", he says.
"I'll never stop until it's over & we're standing victorious over our enemy. I don't care how long it takes, as long as I have you. Now go get ready for your flight to Tokyo."
"Yes ma'am", John finishes, kissing his wife & started making for the door with Barnes & Kyle following right behind him. The latter two exit, but John hangs back just long enough for a final parting word to the ladies.
"Take care, the both of you. And don't fret – I'll be back."
John gives a final wink before exiting the room, closing the door behind him. Star & Kate look at each other & grins, glad to take any kind of pleasantness & humor when they can get it.
"Come on, Star. John & company have their job to do, & we have ours", Kate said. Nodding, Star follows her out of the room shortly after.
Be sure you make good to me on that promise, John, Kate thought.
England, London, July 1996:
These four individuals gather around a table in an old mansion with a fireplace that is all but dormant at this time of year. An old-fashioned phone rests near the center of it, & the whole room was dark except for the table itself, staying lit by magical forces. The youngest-looking was a boy that looks to be about between the ages of 10-12, wearing a black outfit that had blue on the edges. He had a head of jet black hair, & his brown eyes were hidden by a pair of thin-rimmed glasses. Resting beside the chair he sat in was a large golden staff that had a round circle at one end which was decorated with spikes, resembling the sun itself.
To most, he may seem like an ordinary boy from England.
But in actuality, he is the sole reincarnation of Clow Reed, the creator & original master of the powerful Clow Cards, all of which are now transformed & belonging to a new master.
Now he is known as Eriol Hiiragizawa, one-time student at Tomoeda Elementary in Japan.
Sitting with him are two ladies & a small black, four-footed creature around 8-9 inches in height with mini-butterfly wings & pointed cat ears floating over a foot from the table where they reside. The first woman was tall, & wore a white short-sleeved shirt & brown skirt. She had a head of long brown hair that went past her shoulders, with eyes to match. The second woman was about the same height, wearing a light tan shirt & same colored skirt as her companion. Her long hair was auburn, & her eyes were a light brown.
In one form, the brown-haired woman was once known as Seijou High School student Nakuru Akizuki. But to Eriol, her true name is Ruby Moon, one of two creations of Eriol along with Spinel Sun, the small winged creature that can actually turn into a large black panther with butterfly wings on a much larger scale. The auburn-haired woman is Kaho Mizuki, a one-time substitute teacher over at Tomoeda Elementary, who is the daughter of the priest of Japan's Tsukimine Shrine & close partner to Eriol.
All sat in silence at the table, each with a grim expression on their faces like something had gone terribly wrong.
After what felt like an eternity, Eriol broke the silence & spoke first.
"You all had that vision again the other night in your sleep, didn't you?", he asks his companions, his voice in a serious but solemn tone.
"Third time this week, yes", Kaho Mizuki said in the same way. "I saw myself standing at the edge of London, mesmerized in all its beauty, when all of a sudden…this big bright flash of white light erupts out of nowhere, beginning at Big Ben, & continues growing at an alarming rate, consuming everything in its path, including myself."
"And that's the part where you & the rest of us wake up screaming at, isn't it, Miss Mizuki?", asks Spinel Sun.
"That's not even the worst part about it, Spinel", Ruby Moon adds. "That bright flash gave off a tremendous amount of heat that burned everything it touched, from the buildings to the people who were caught unawares. I could practically feel the heat hitting me like a giant hand, melting the flesh off my bones from where I stood…"
Ruby Moon couldn't go on explaining. Her eyes began filling with tears & started running down her cheeks. Both Spinel Sun & Kaho gathered around her for comfort, with the latter offering her a tissue as she accepts, wiping them away.
"I know how much this disturbs you, Ruby Moon", Eriol says kindly. "But I need for you to remain strong at my side. I know you can do that. Believe me, I wouldn't have created you or Spinel Sun if I didn't think either of you capable of enduring even the most horrific of scenarios & rise above them."
"Yes. My apologies, master", Ruby Moon said. "It's just that…none of us has ever encountered a vision like this before. What does it all mean? Is something similar to this bound to happen soon?"
"It's hard to tell. Were I to force myself to give an immediate answer to those questions, I would have to say that it's every bit possible. Worse yet, I fear it may be probable – and not just in England either."
A gasp of fright came from all three of Eriol's companions, with looks of shock to match.
"And Kaho?", Eriol continued. "I'm not absolutely sure yet, but I feel it may have something to do with those feelings you had of disturbances in the time-stream – once in 1984 when you were still a student, & once again only last year. Am I right?"
This bit of news put another shock to Ruby Moon & Spinel Sun's systems.
"What does my master mean, Miss Mizuki? What feelings of yours was he talking about?", Spinel Sun asks.
Kaho Mizuki takes a deep breath before answering.
"Like Eriol said, I was still in high school when I first got that feeling", she explains. "I was young, not quite aware of my power's full potential yet. But in the year 1984, I got a sense that the flow of time was both challenged & defeated. It was in mid-May when it first hit me."
"How did it feel?", Spinel asked.
"Like I was trapped in ice, completely immobile. I couldn't see, I couldn't even breathe, for God's sake. Fortunately, it lasted only a few moments before my body functioned normally. It wasn't until it occurred again last year that I was able to understand what it meant, thanks to Eriol's training. He was the only person I ever told of those harrowing experiences until now."
"You certainly had good reason to keep it to yourself until you understood it, Miss Mizuki", Spinel said. "Until you were actually able to, it could've been too dangerous for that info to fall onto the lap of those who would go & abuse that kind of power, like the Madoshi once did."
Eriol nodded but said nothing regarding that incident.
"Well said, Spinel", he does say. "And that is why she relayed it only to me, to get a better view & understanding of what she experienced."
"But what kind of disturbance in time was it?", asked Ruby Moon. "From the past? Or maybe from the future?"
"Now that I do understand it better, I would have to say it was the latter", Kaho says. "But it does still have to do with past tense as well. Like something from the future was sent back to change the past. It reminds me of a saying I learned long ago from my high school days. It went something like this: 'The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves'. Whatever it was in those time disturbances I felt, it could be a warning to us all."
"Just like that vision we three keep having?", Spinel Sun asked. "I have a feeling it is connected in a way somehow. For each one of us to have the same dream, let alone three times a week in a row, is hardly a mere coincidence."
"And I was never someone who believed in mere coincidence, Spinel", Eriol says. "Things happen for a reason, be it good or bad."
"So what can we do about it, Master?", Ruby Moon asks. "As Miss Mizuki explained, 'The future is not set'. Surely there's a way for this disaster to be avoided so that it won't come to pass?"
"I'm not so sure it can be avoided, Ruby Moon", Eriol said. "Like Kaho said, this vision we keep having is most likely a prelude of things yet to come."
"But you're the reincarnation of Clow Reed himself. Isn't there any way you could conjure up a spell that would…"
Eriol shook his head, stopping Ruby Moon from saying anything else.
"Even Clow Reed, powerful as he was, couldn't stop a catastrophe of that magnitude", explains Eriol. "And I dare not interfere with the balance of life, let alone time, any more than he would. Doing so can cause a catastrophe to the planet many times greater than the one we've each been witnessing in our sleep. But I do suspect that she might attempt such a feat on her own once she finds out."
Eriol doesn't mention her name, as Ruby Moon, Spinel Sun & Kaho Mizuki knew exactly which 'she' he was referring to.
"If what you're saying is true, Master, shouldn't you call her up & fill her in on what's going on?", Spinel Sun asked. "Once you explain the situation to her, maybe she won't become so reckless in the attempt like the time she tried to turn all the Clow Cards at once into…"
"That won't be necessary, Spinel", Eriol said, cutting him off. "Even if she's having the same kind of dream as we are & decides to take matters into her own hands, she'll discover a lot more by doing than if we simply tell her. She's as wise as she is strong in her power, even at her age. It is best for some people to learn more in that manner, namely her."
"In the meantime, all we can do is allow things to run their course & prepare for the worst if & when it arrives", Kaho says.
"Agreed", Eriol said.
The rest of the evening went in silence.
Like always, the city of Tokyo was such a beautiful scene at night.
Sakura Kinomoto stood on the edge of a building rooftop, overlooking the entire city as it basks in the luminous glow of lights shining from each structure. She was dressed in a baby pink dress that only barely misses touching the floor, with same-colored shoes to match. On her chest was a multi-pointed golden star, & her shoulders were extra decorated with a strip of cloth of a darker pink shade that was close to being red. A choker of that same color surrounded her neck at the bottom. A pair of beautiful white bird-like wings were attached to her back that seemed to glow in the city's luminescence. She sported a lovely head of brown hair & equally lovely green eyes. A pink-red bow was tied to the back of her head as its tails fluttered in the breeze. In her hands is a medium pink staff that sported a hollow circle at the top. Within it was a golden star, & on the sides was a pair of white wings on a much smaller scale than those currently on her back. One look at her & one would suggest that she was all but dressed to star in a play or show of sorts.
Little did anyone other than a selected few know that 12-year-old Sakura Kinomoto was in reality the new master of the magically powerful Clow Cards, created by the powerful magician Clow Reed many years ago. From the day she opened the Clow Book she had in her home basement & most of the cards escaped their imprisonment, Sakura had a long & perilous journey to help recapture the cards, one after another (& often at odds with Shaoran Li along with his cousin Meilin from China), she had battled Yue the Judge (one of the two Guardians of the cards & her friend Yukito Tsukishiro in disguise) in order to prove herself worthy of becoming the cards' new master, followed by combatting strange & dangerous tasks caused by transfer student & classmate Eriol Hiiragizawa, discovering he was Clow Reed's reincarnation & breaking the final test by defeating a spell he conjured upon the city of Tokyo which made everyone sleep which would've been permanent had Sakura not been able to break it.
Performing that feat, Eriol announced that it was finally over, & that Sakura Kinomoto is truly the new master of the Clow Cards, now all changed & re-named Sakura Cards.
But she had one last task to perform: now that all 52 Clow Cards were transformed & Eriol's old house was demolished, a 53rd card (named the Sealed Card) broke free & started making things in all of Tokyo disappear, from structures to people. This nameless card had the power equivalent of all 52 of the other cards, if not more so, & began stealing the cards away from Sakura. It was discovered later on that the card was simply lonely & wanted friends. With some coaxing & persuasion on her part, Sakura managed to convince the nameless card to join with the Hope card Sakura made with her own tears after Eriol's final test so that it would never again be alone.
Not a bad list of feats for someone who hasn't even reached puberty yet!
Staring over the city, Sakura sucks in a breath of fresh night air & exhales it, savoring the blissed scenery. Even though she knows she's dreaming, it didn't matter to her: after all she'd went through, she deserves to have a peaceful dream for once in her life.
But something deep down inside Sakura tells her that this dream isn't what it seems to be. For all the times in the past she dreamt of this particular moment, it became something of a premonition or a prelude of what was to come in her life. It didn't seem right to her somehow: all of the cards have been both captured & transformed from Clow Cards into Sakura Cards, & no other strange happenings have been occurring since the 53rd card joined the ranks.
So why am I having this kind of dream again?, Sakura wondered to herself. And why now, of all times?
Try as she might, Sakura could not see or sense anything out of the ordinary from the scenario she now witnessed. Sans the quiet, everything seems to be as normal on a night in Tokyo as one can imagine it to be, from the glistening lights to the clear skies overhead. Sakura was partly lost within the elegance of her surroundings, & surmised that this was indeed a peaceful dream. It could be that her own consciousness was saying 'thank you' for being so brave in the many dangers she faced of being a Cardcaptor, & that this was her reward.
Reveling in that very thought, Sakura allowed herself a smile from her lips.
Until someone called out to her from behind.
Sakura turns to see who was calling her name. What she saw were two figures dressed in dark blue cop uniforms: both seemed to be of the same height, only their outfits were slightly different. The first cop was dressed in a regular long-sleeved uniform, complete with boots & badge placed onto his left chest. He had a head of short brown hair that was very neatly styled. He didn't have on a belt that held a cop's gun and/or radio, but his companion did: this other cop wore a jacket of the same shade of blue over his uniform, & his head was covered by a white helmet with black visor & a shiny silver insignia on the front. A pair of mirrored shades hid his eyes, & like his comrade, he didn't look anything like a cop from Japan.
Judging from their uniforms, Sakura guessed they were cops from the United States rather than from the Land of the Rising Sun.
The police? What could they possibly want with me?, Sakura wondered, completely baffled as to why the law would want something with her, let alone two from America.
Before she could ask that very question to either of them, both cops pointed in unison at Sakura to look behind her.
She does: when Sakura turns around, she can see even from a few buildings away, another pair of figures standing beside each other. But these two weren't officers at all: in fact, one was female & a lot taller than the other. From what Sakura can see, the woman had on an olive drab pair of pants & tank-top shirt with black boots. Her eyes were covered by a small pair of mirrored sunglasses, & her long hair was light brown & reached her shoulders, going past slightly. The smaller figure was male, with a short crewcut of hair on his head, in an identical color match as the woman's. He was dressed in blue jeans, white sneakers & gray shirt.
If Sakura didn't know any better, she'd swore they were most likely mother & son.
And they were both staring at her directly, their gazes making Sakura seem worried.
It looked like they were actually pleading with her, judging upon the expressions on their faces.
From around the corner of the building's entrance, a second pair of figures emerge from behind the mother & son, both of whom were unaware of their approach. The first new figure stood a massive seven feet tall, wearing black boots, olive pants, black undershirt with colored patches, light blue jacket which a biker would no doubt wear, & black fingerless gloves. He had a head of suave-looking brown hair, & a face that seemed to kill with just a look. His comrade stood at the same height & wore the same kind of boots & pants. But his top attire was different: he wore a dark gray undershirt with a black sports jacket over it, & matching black gloves. His hair was styled differently, being spiked at the top, & his eyes were hidden by a pair of dark shades.
He looked to be just as menacing as the first.
As silently as cats, both approached the mother & son from behind: the one with shades came behind the son, the blue-jacketed one behind his mother. When they were both in position, Sakura sees them pulling something from within their jacket & behind their back. Sakura's heart raced with dread: the blue-jacketed figure pulled a Magnum with laser sighting from his attire, while the shaded one pulled out a pistol-grip shotgun.
Both were aimed at their backs!
Sakura tried to shout a warning, but her vocal cords didn't work: it was as if someone pressed the 'mute' button on their remote & cut off her voice. She could only watch in wide-eyed horror as the two figures fired their guns at their targets, both shots entering their backs & exiting in a bloodied hole in their chests as flesh & blood spew in a geyser. Looks of disbelief on their faces as their final moments of life quickly fade away ask her a silent 'why'.
Both mother & son fall to the floor of the roof on their faces in puddles of their own blood, & the assassins lower their guns now that the deed is done.
Sakura also wanted to ask herself why, but her voice still wouldn't come: the horror of seeing a mother & her son killed right before her eyes stunned them from working properly. She couldn't even move, as the scenario made her still as a statue.
That was when Tokyo Tower exploded into a bright flash of white with the wattage of a million lights going off at once.
It was at that point that Sakura could move, shielding her eyes from the light that lasted for a few seconds before it faded. What she saw next was even worse: a huge mushroom cloud hung over the city, & a shockwave began spreading out in a circle, destroying buildings to rubble when it had reached them. Once it got to the two assassins, their flesh & clothing were stripped away like kindling, revealing charred skeletons beneath, their eyes glowing a malevolent red. But to Sakura, their 'bones' didn't look like bones at all: she could see no rib cage on it, even at a distance. Plus, it didn't seem to resemble any kind of skeleton she'd learned about in anatomy class at Tomoeda Elementary.
She hardly had time to figure it out: the shockwave from the blast was heading her way quickly, & when it finally did, Sakura felt the massive heat slammed her hard, & in that instant her whole body temperature went up a few thousand degrees & she felt her skin start smoldering & melting away on down to her own bones.
It was only then that Sakura could scream.
And she did so at the top of her lungs.
July 5, 1996, 3:00 a.m.:
Sakura woke up from bed with a quick gasp of air as she awoke with sweat running down her forehead that partly soaked the top of her pajamas. Her perspiration didn't last long: some cooling out of the air conditioner made short work of the rest, & in no time her sweat was a thing of the past.
But it still couldn't eradicate the horrid dream she just had, for the third night in a row.
Before she could begin to figure out her dream, Sakura paused to see if anyone heard her cry out in her sleep. When she heard no exterior noise from outside her bedroom, she got out of bed to check on Kero, the second guardian of the Clow Cards, in the lower drawer of her desk. It was halfway open to allow the cool air from the AC, & the little yellow creature about six inches in length was fast asleep in his custom-made bed with the covers over him.
Upon seeing him sleeping peacefully, Sakura let out a sigh of relief as she headed back to her own bed, her mind racing as she tried to figure out what occurred.
What was that all about?, she wondered. And why did what appeared to be a nuclear weapon suddenly explode in the heart of Tokyo right after that mother & son got killed by those two assassins? Is this yet another prophecy? And am I to be the one to make sure it doesn't come to pass if it is?
Whatever it was she saw, Sakura couldn't shake it out of her head: it's not every night that one dreams about a nuclear explosion in their hometown that spreads & destroys everything it comes in contact with. It also isn't every night that one dreams about people having their flesh melt away from where they stood to reveal their skeletons beneath. But Sakura still wasn't sure if what she saw of the two killers were their bones. After all, bones don't glitter or even shine if struck by intense heat of a few thousand degrees Fahrenheit.
Truth be told, Sakura could swore she saw cold, hard metal & steel instead of bone when their flesh totally vaporized from the blast, complete with the red glowing eyes she saw before waking up.
How is that even possible?, Sakura thought, thinking about her vision. And who were that mother & son she saw getting killed on the rooftop before the explosion took place? Were they the ones who could've prevented the nuclear blast had they lived?
It was so much for Sakura to take in at once, & she really wasn't up to par to figure it out at this late hour. Slipping back under the covers, Sakura rested her head back onto her pillow & tried to go back to sleep, being hopeful to not have another dream for the remainder of the night.
Blessedly, Sakura slept like a rock throughout the rest of the night without having another dream, & she slowly opened her eyes to a beeping noise in her head. When her vision started becoming more into full focus, she sees yet another spec of white in front of her, only this one was in the form of a big bright smile. It was attached to a small hovering figure, yellow in color & in the shape of a teddy bear with a tail like a lion's & small angel / butterfly wings on its back. The floating 'thing' measured 8-9 inches in height from head to toe (minus its tail, with a mini-ball of hair at the end of it), had a pair of mouse-like ears, two black dots for eyes & a third one for its nose.
And it spoke.
Its face practically right next to Sakura's had startled her, & she let out a cry of surprise & leapt up & back towards the wall where the alarm clock (which was doing the beeping) got jarred & knocked off the shelf it rested on, landing next to her.
Although she now identifies the floating creature as Kero, she momentarily wasn't too happy to see him. Taking the alarm clock & shutting off its noise, she stares hard at him.
"For God's sake, Kero!", she growled, struggling to keep her voice down. "What's the big idea in sneaking up on & scaring me to death like that?! You planning on giving me a heart attack & sending me to an early grave?! Is that it?!"
"Well, gee whiz, Sakura!", Kero says in sarcasm. "You were the one who asked me to get you up if you happened to oversleep, remember?"
The mentioning of the word 'oversleep' snapped Sakura out of her fuming at Kero, & she stared at the time the clock was showing. Her eyes widened when she saw what time it was.
"Oh my god! 8:30?!", Sakura called out, & she practically jumped out of bed. Getting her pajamas off in a hurry, she headed for her closet & grabbed her clothes for the day: a blue mini-skirt, white socks, black shoes & a pink shirt. Getting her brown backpack, she stuffs the Clow Book (now titled the 'Sakura Book', being in a baby pink hue with golden star on both sides) inside & places her miniature Star Wand amulet around her neck which is attached on a thin line, & tucks it inside her shirt.
Watching her rush, Kero shook his head with a smile in spite of himself.
"The new master of the Clow Cards, & she still can't remember to get herself up in the morning", he says softly, but that didn't stop Sakura from hearing him.
"Stuff it, Kero!", she snapped. "So I still have a bit of trouble with that, so sue me!"
"A bit of trouble? Huh! More like a whole bunch of it!"
"I said stuff it! And speaking of stuffing…", Sakura noted, gesturing to her backpack with her hand.
"What, now? Without any breakfast first? Come on, Sakura…", Kero started to protest.
"Look Kero, I'm late enough as it is!", Sakura stated. "I'll be lucky if I have any breakfast before we head off, & I don't even know if I can take any of it with me on the road! Now in!"
Defeated, Kero sighs heavily & floats over towards her backpack but not without issuing a final statement.
"I better be getting a wholesome breakfast when we get there, little miss!", he growls softly.
"Not if you keep mouthing off to your new master, you won't!", Sakura replied back the same way, shoving Kero inside & closing the flap. The Guardian Beast started to muffle in protest, but a quick shush from Sakura put an end to it & she headed downstairs.
When she reached the dining room table, she saw her father Fujitaka & her older brother Toya already eating their breakfast of white rice, fish strips, fried dumplings & hard-boiled eggs. A photo of Sakura's mother – Nadeshiko – rests in the middle of the table, & Sakura kindly whispers a warm 'good morning' to her, along with everyone else. Even though still heartbroken when she passed away at the young age of 27 when she was just three years old, Sakura can still feel her presence at times when she needs it most.
And seeing her late mother's photo always gave Sakura strength to face whatever obstacle(s) she might have to face.
"Good morning, Sakura", Fujitaka says cheerfully with his own warm smile.
"Well well, the monster finally comes down for some breakfast", Toya teased, a habit he does to his younger sister whenever he gets the chance. "I thought she was going to stay in her lair until lunch came around!"
Sakura scowled at Toya, putting her backpack down on the floor next to her chair & started to eat what her dad left on her plate. Normally she'd give him a swift kick in his foot for such a remark, but he was too far away for her to do so, & she was in a hurry.
Luckily for him, she'll let it slide. Her father chuckles at their antics, which always amused him.
Scarfing down her breakfast, Fujitaka makes an announcement to her.
"Sakura, you do know Toya & I are leaving for Fukuoka on business this morning, & that we'll be gone for the whole weekend", he states. "Do you think you'll be okay here on your own until we get back Sunday night?"
"Oh, no worries, Dad. I remember", Sakura said. "I recall you putting it on the board last week. I am twelve now, so I'm much more responsible."
Fujitaka gave out a slight laugh.
"I know you are, Sakura", he says. "I wouldn't plan on leaving you unsupervised here at the house if I had thought otherwise. And I must say, you really have been more responsible in recent times."
"Yes, well, I did have a good teacher – figuratively speaking, of course", Sakura adds with a smile.
Fujitaka returns the gesture.
"All except for getting up in the morning", Toya said slyly with a face to match, ruining the mood.
Sakura scowls at him again just as she finishes the rest of her breakfast & puts her backpack on as she rises from her seat.
"Anyway, Dad, since you & Toya will be out all this weekend, would it be all right if Tomoyo stays with me?", she asks.
"I can't see anything wrong with that, Sakura", he says. "And since Shaoran & his cousin Meilin are permanently staying here in Japan, they can be here as well if they wish – just as long as they get permission first."
Sakura nodded happily.
The mere mentioning of Shaoran made Toya angry inside. Since they met, neither one had any kind feelings towards each other, what with Shaoran being at odds with his younger sister when he had first arrived as a transfer student from Hong Kong, China. While Toya does pick on & tease his younger sister, he doesn't let anyone else do so, let alone a kid from outside Japan. And although he's mean to her, Toya Kinomoto cares for Sakura deeply & would do anything to keep her safe.
Even if it's from a boy she confessed to loving with all her heart not too long ago.
"You're going to allow him to come here?", Toya asked not too pleasantly.
"I love him, Toya!", Sakura said, refusing to back down. "And if he or Meilin wishes to stay here with me this weekend, then it's going to happen! End of story!"
She heads for the front door, but Toya still gets a word in.
"Even so, try not to act like a pair of monsters & mess the house up while we're gone, okay?", he gleefully teases.
His remark gets him a swift kick in the shin, as this time Sakura is close enough to reach him as she passes his way, causing Toya to cry out sharply.
Creep!, Sakura thought, grabbing her white & pink roller blades & putting them on, along with her safety pads for her elbows & knees. She places her fingerless gloves with her name on before she announces her departure.
"Bye Dad, bye Toya! See you Sunday!", she said, exiting the front door & skating down the street.
It was then when Kero finally stuck his head out of her backpack.
"Oh man, all that good food, & I didn't get so much as a crumb before we left!", he cries.
"You'll get something to chow down on when we get to the Summer Festival, Kero, so quit your complaining already!", Sakura says, racing as quickly as she can on her roller blades.
"Not another word about food, Kero, or you'll get nothing once we're there! Understand?"
Kero said nothing else after that. At least, not about food.
"So…the kid & the brat decided to stay, eh?", he said, changing the subject.
"Their names are Shaoran & Meilin Li, Kero! It'd be nice if you used them once in a while!", Sakura said, correcting him. "And yes, they are, so you better get used to the idea!"
"Huh! I still don't know what it is you see in him, Sakura. He was your rival in capturing the Clow Cards, you know."
"That's right, he was…past tense. Don't forget, Kero: there's no way I could've captured most of them without his assistance, rival or not. Besides, wasn't it you who once said that accepting help as a Cardcaptor wasn't a sign of weakness?"
"After Yue's protests, yeah. But eventually he did see the truth in that, & it's one of the reasons as to why he's accepted in becoming your protector, like me."
Sakura smiled in gratitude.
"And I'm grateful for it, Kero", Sakura said, meaning it. "With your guidance & training, it helped me accomplish something most other kids my age can only imagine. It's not every day one gets to be a master of magical cards that are actually alive, created a long time ago."
"Not only that, Sakura, I always knew you were the one I chose for the task of the Cardcaptor, & you more than proved me right beyond my wildest expectations! Hey, can I pick 'em or can I pick 'em?"
Sakura & Kero share a heartfelt laugh.
"You sure have a way of stating the obvious, Kero", Sakura went on. "But you know something? It wasn't just your training & my abilities that enabled me to become their new master. Even before I did, the cards were very confident in me to be so, like they wanted me to. I even felt their hopes for me to be their master, & here I am with their hopes more than met."
"That's one of their talents, Sakura", Kero explains. "The cards can sense a person's heart & soul to discover if he or she is capable of becoming their master. The more cards one captures, the more they can tell if that person is deserving of that one task. Of course the final say of it all goes to Yue, but the cards do keep their hopes up on a particular individual by looking inside them. That's why the Light Card resided in your heart after you opened the Clow Book & scattered the rest. It could sense your warm & caring heart, & that's why it & the other cards hoped the way they did."
"I remember that moment, Kero. The Light Card once told me something similar, & was proud when I transformed it & the Dark Card in order to help break Eriol's sleep spell on the city. But…"
A sudden thought enters Sakura's mind, & her happy expression goes to one of concern.
"Hey Sakura, what's wrong? Was it something I said?", Kero asks, seeing the change in her facial expression.
"Only in part, Kero", she says. "Since the cards can sense a person's heart & their feelings within, it got me thinking of what might've happened if someone who's heart & soul was just the opposite of mine, & used the card's magical power for evil intentions. Kind of like…"
"You mean like Clow Reed's one-time lover, whose spirit you fought in Hong Kong?"
"Exactly. I can't help but shudder at that very thought of the Clow Cards being used like that."
"That's why Clow Reed banished her in the first place. It's also why he enlisted me & Yue to be the guardians of the book & all the cards. Trust me, Sakura: if I didn't think you werecapable of being a Cardcaptor, or sought to misuse the cards for malevolent mischief, then no way would I have let you go & continue on your quest. And even if I had, Yue's a different story: he's not as sentimental as I am, but even he wouldn't have allowed you to be their master were your heart been cold & dark, with a desire to use the power of the cards for evil & do the world grave harm."
Sakura smiled again.
"Sounds to me like Clow Reed thought of everything in advance", she said.
"That was Clow Reed for you: always thinking ahead", Kero said. "And speaking of the cards…why are you taking them with you instead of leaving them at home? They've all been caught and changed, so what's the point in you…"
"Let's just say I feel rather naked without them. They're much a part of me as it is the other way around. I just can't leave them at home."
"Just like Clow – he couldn't be without them either, even for an instant."
"Another attribute he & I share", Sakura jokes, giggling from it.
"If it's all the same, Sakura, can we get to that festival any faster? I really am getting hungry over here!", Kero says.
Sakura giggles again.
"Just a few more minutes & we're there, Kero", she said. "But – into the backpack with you until we get there."
"All right! Yummy sweets, here I come, ready or not!", Kero cheers, doing what Sakura told him.
Once she was certain that Kero was safe & secure behind her, Sakura picked up the pack & skated faster than before.
The outskirts of Tokyo, 9:00 a.m.:
Sarah & John Connor's rented boat arrives at a private fishing dock, slowing down before it gets tied down to a mast by a male figure & his wife. The male was six feet in height & wearing a pair of blue shorts, sandals & white shirt. His wife was about a few inches shorter, attired in brown shorts & yellow shirt. She also wore a pair of sandals, & both had a hat on their heads to keep the sun off their tops & sunglasses to keep the bright morning light out of their eyes.
Due to Japan's dress code, Sarah & John wore attire to help them mingle with the populace. The waitress-turned-warrior had on light gray pants, white socks & shoes, complete with a baby blue shirt. She kept on her circle-rimmed mirrored sunglasses & let her hair cover most of her face to keep from being recognized: even halfway around the world, someone might spot her as a wanted fugitive, & Sarah wanted to stay as incognito as possible to prevent that from happening.
John did too: he wore light beige pants, same socks & shoes as his mother, & a yellow shirt. He had on his own mirrored shades, & his hair was cut short & spiked at the top. Both mother & son step off the boat, stopping short of the two by three feet.
"Chujo & Reiko Sekizawa, we presume?", Sarah asked.
"You presume correctly, Sarah Connor", Chujo said. "Enrique called us in advance & told us you were coming. It's been close to a month since we got that call."
"I gotta say, I'm rather impressed", Sarah said, shaking hands with Chujo as John does with Reiko. "I never knew that Enrique's contacts reached this far in the world."
"There's a lot about him that you're not aware of, Sarah", Reiko said as the hand-shaking ceased. "Believe me, the less you know about his full operations, the better."
Sarah nodded. She could relate to what Reiko was saying, & felt the same way: only a very few people knew what she & John did, & want to keep it just as confidential as their own identities.
"You do know as to why we're here, right?", John asked.
"Of course. Come with us", Reiko said, gesturing them to follow them into their shack. When they entered, Sarah & John saw a table that had some objects laid out, like they were waiting for them.
"Is that stuff for us?", John wondered.
"Some of it is", Chujo said, picking up two wads of yen in different amounts & handing them each to the Connors. Sarah took hers & tried to do so with John's stash, but he was quicker & put it out of her reach & into his pockets. A look on his face told her, 'Not this time, Mom'.
Sarah scoffed & shook her head in disbelief & amusement. She even allowed herself a grin.
Reiko handed over a small map, which Sarah took before John could even touch it.
"This is a map of the city of Tokyo?", asked Sarah.
"It is, & it will show you how to get to your destination", Reiko said. "Just find the area that we marked in red, & you shouldn't have too much trouble locating it."
"Are those guns for us, too?", John asks, seeing multiple handguns laying on the table.
"They'll come later", Sarah said. "First thing we do now is…"
"I get it. Reconnaissance first, & then comes the assault", John finished.
"Now you're catching on."
You just might make it as a soldier before you even reach puberty, John, Sarah thought proudly, happy that John is thinking like a natural born leader. He still had a long way to go, yes, but her son is getting himself off to a mighty fine start, beginning with keeping the re-programmed T-800 operational in order to stop the T-1000 & obtain the chip & hand from Cyberdyne, thus destroying them all.
She allows herself to grin again, & pats John on the back for getting his head in the game.
"And speaking of reconnaissance…", Reiko says, taking out another sheet of large paper & placing it on the table after Chujo clears it of everything else.
"Holy shit! Are these blueprints?", Sarah asked.
"Of your destination, yes", Chujo said. "These readouts will show you everything from within the building, from the restrooms right down to the deepest basements. Once you study these, there's no place inside you won't know."
"You got a hold of these? Man, you two are well-equipped!", John said.
Chujo & Reiko smile.
"Hey John, Enrique isn't the only contact we have, be it here or from overseas", Reiko adds with a wink. John grins enthusiastically as Sarah just simply nods. It was a proud step ahead on their assault of Cyberdyne last year. With only Miles Dyson to guide them, they were practically going in blind before arriving. This time, they get a real sense of what they can expect from the complex.
"Not bad, you too", she says evenly. "You plan ahead as I would. Now…let's review what we're looking at here & plan out raid."
Without further ado, the quartet begin.
Another section of Tokyo:
The Sagami River area was quiet sans the rush of cars passing by on a regular basis, & hardly anyone in the area. The tranquility of it was interrupted by a strange flash of bright light from within the multi-level parking lot which caused curious (& worried) onlookers to notify the police. They arrive in five to ten minutes later in a pair of officers riding a single patrol car. They question the onlookers as to what exactly they saw & head up into the lot. The first two levels showed them nothing out of the ordinary except dozens of vacant parked cars.
It was when they reached the third level they noticed something strange.
In fact, not only did they sense something amiss, they smelt it.
A stench of ozone & burnt metal filled the surrounding air, & it made their noses twitch.
When they got closer to the source of the awful smell, they came across a sight they would never have expected: from where there were two cars in good condition was now a pair that looked like they were ready to be thrown to the scrap heap. The fronts of the twin cars parked next to each other was gone, their frames seared away in a circular fashion along with a portion of the concrete, which carved out a smooth piece like a large sphere materialized out of nowhere. Where the metal & concrete were touched, strips of smoke rose up & the metal glowed a bright orange-red, indication that it was still too hot to touch.
Looking at one another in total disbelief, the two officers carefully approached the two cars with their guns drawn & their senses keen. It may seem likely that the perpetrator(s) of this most unusual crime are long gone, but neither officer was taking any chances.
Reaching the strangely wrecked cars, they saw no other living soul but themselves.
"What do you make of this?", asked the first cop.
"Your guess is as good as mine, partner", said the second. "In all my years on the force, I've never seen anything like it. Should we call it in?"
"Let's look around a bit more first before we know what to call it in as. If this is more than just an electrical disturbance, I want to know what the full story is."
Unbeknownst to them while they were discussing on their course of action, the noise of bare feet from right behind them was all that was required to make them turn 180 degrees to find themselves face-to-face with two slim but muscular naked Japanese individuals the same height as them. Their hair was brown & spiked at the top, with one of them sporting a goatee around his mouth.
The officers had only ¾ of a second to acknowledge this before they were grabbed at the throat by powerful hands, their air cut off.
Gasping & struggling for air, the officers try to aim their guns at their assailants but their attempts were too feeble, & get wrenched from their grips with hardly any effort. Holding them at eye level, the unknown nudists seemed to study them for a bit before snapping their necks with ease, the cracking noise echoing the level.
Devoid of life, the officers get dropped & fall to the concrete floor.
"Scanners indicate that clothing are a match to these units", said the goatee figure.
"Affirmative", said the other. "Weaponry & transportation are also available."
Without another word, both nude individuals bent down & carefully starting removing clothes off of their victims to put on themselves.
Tomoeda Central Park, 11:00 a.m.:
When Sakura arrived at the festival, Kero munched down on a whole bunch of food she picked up for him as she promised, eating it up like there was no tomorrow. As he did, Sakura's classmate & best friend Tomoyo Daidouji greeted her with the portable video camera she always carries around with her in her backpack. Tomoyo was Sakura's height with the most adorable head of light grayish hair that seemed to flow like the wind itself. It was very reminiscent of the hair Sakura's mother had, which is a strange coincidence, considering that Nadeshiko was the first cousin of Sonomi, Tomoya's mother. She was attired in a red dress, shoes & white bow in her hair in the rear. She had the bluest eyes of any kid her age, & she peers into her video camera as she films Sakura, who now wore a bright yellow dress with matching shoes & sunflower hat. It was at Tomoyo's insistence upon her arrival to the festival, as she was to look as pleasant as possible for her task of giving out helium balloons to the customers who wanted one.
Plus, it always thrilled Tomoyo to watch Sakura in action while wearing the dresses & even battle costumes she makes specifically for her, & records it all for prosperity. Although it was embarrassing to Sakura at times, she goes along because of their strong friendship that began years ago.
It still made her feel like she wanted to crawl under a rock sometimes.
"As ever, Sakura, you look so good on camera", Tomoyo says with sincerity, viewing her through her camera's lenses.
"Do you really have to film me while I'm performing my task, Tomoyo? I'm embarrassed enough already", Sakura says, on the verge of turning as red as her best friend's dress.
"Come on, Sakura. How can I miss the golden opportunity of capturing the beauty queen that is you? Besides, that yellow dress matches your shining personality to a 'T', & all of those big colorful balloons you're holding only adds to it."
"You got that right!", said a female voice from a few feet away.
Sakura & Tomoyo turned to a group of four young people – three girls & a boy – all dressed in shorts, shirts & skirts. Seeing them put smiles on their faces: they were their classmates Rika Sasaki, Chiharu Mihara, Naoko Yanagisawa & Takashi Yamazaki, all here to have fun at the annual Summer Festival as they were.
"Hello Tomoyo, Sakura! Good to see you!", Rika said.
"Hey everyone! Glad you all could make it!", Sakura said, her embarrassment forgotten. "Who wants a nice, colorful balloon?"
All at once, the quartet of newcomers gather around Sakura as she hands out a balloon to each individual with a smile on her face they all know & love.
"Nice of you to participate in this year's festival, Sakura", Naoko asks. "Was it assigned to you, or did you volunteer on your own free will?"
"The latter, Chiharu", Sakura replied. "Everyone seems so full of life when I give my services to events like these, so naturally I couldn't refuse. And here I am – your lively balloon girl all dressed up in yellow."
"Speaking of balloons, did you know that the first ones weren't made of rubber?", Yamazaki says as they all turn to him. "No. You see, the first ones in ancient times were actual rocks that were found from off the ground. They started out with finding the little ones, but then they went to find bigger ones to satisfy their curiosity, & they…"
"Oh brother, here we go again with this!", Chiharu says in a grunt, & she grabs Yamazaki by the ear & drags him away as he continues his ranting with Naoko going 'Yeah, yeah'. Yamazaki always had a knack of telling stories & facts that turned out to be false in the long run, & only those all but gullible enough would ever believe him. Despite his constant twisting of the facts, Chiharu & Yamazaki have been very close friends since kindergarten, & they actually share something that goes beyond that.
Neither one would have it – or want it – any other way.
"That's Yamazaki for you – always with a tall tale to tell", Naoko said, giggling. "How Chiharu has to put up with it every time, I suppose we'll never know."
Her remark caused Sakura & the rest to start giggling.
"Let's leave them be, Naoko", said Rika. "Those two have known each other practically all their lives. I'd say that hearing Yamazaki's mixed-up facts is but a small price to pay for her deep respect for him, especially since he makes her happy in his own way."
"You're right, Rika", Tomoyo says. "Two people who respect & love each other as those two do can overcome anything, no matter how serious or even mundane it may be. Just ask Sakura about it."
"Tomoyo…", Sakura says, her embarrassment returning big time.
"Wait. Sakura? You mean to say that…?", Naoko started to say as Tomoyo picked up on it. Sakura became more red by the second, but it didn't stop Tomoyo from going on about it.
"You mean none of you knew? Sakura & Shaoran confessed their feelings to each other not long ago. It's to why Shaoran chose to stay here in Japan rather than return home to Hong Kong."
Naoko & Rika turned to Sakura with smiling faces, whose own face was flashing a bright red with a stupefied look.
"Sakura…you told Shaoran how you felt about him?", Naoko asks. "That's wonderful!"
"It certainly is!", Rika said, her heart fluttering with joy. "Sakura, how come you never told us? I always thought your heart belonged to another! What made you decide to choose Shaoran over him? Come on, tell us!"
Sakura stayed silent, wide-eyed & open-mouthed. How could she tell them? What could she even say? That she unleashed a bunch of magical cards from her dad's basement & has been running all over town to collect them before they cause mischief upon the world, & that Shaoran Li was her rival in becoming the cards' new master by two guardians from ages ago?
Oh yeah, her friends will be really understanding of that!
Her face still in a dazed & confused look, Sakura tries to explain.
"Uh, well, I…", she started to say when a sudden muffled belch erupted from her backpack that confused Naoko & Rika with facial expressions to match. Thinking that it was her, Sakura was about to excuse herself until another muffled belch – one a little louder than before – erupts, & Sakura's face gets its reddest shade.
"You okay, Sakura? Do you have gas?", asked Rika.
"Uh yeah…it must've been something I ate", she says with a giggle, hoping they don't catch on. "Pardon me."
Luckily, they both buy it & smile gleefully.
"No worries, Sakura!", Naoko said. "Just drink a little water, & you'll be fine! We're gonna go try out the games & rides, so we'll see you later!"
"Say hello to Shaoran for us! Bye Sakura!", Rika said, waving as they take off. Once they were all gone, Sakura breathes a sigh of relief when a third belch occurs, & she turns towards her backpack with a menacing scowl, her redness now from rage rather than embarrassment.
"Nice going, Kero!", she growls lowly at the guardian beast.
"Oops! Excuse me, Sakura!", Kero said within, his voice muffled. He lets out a final belch that all but got her to the boiling point with him.
Just wait until we get home, mister!, Sakura thought angrily, her left hand in a fist.
Tomoyo couldn't suppress herself from laughing, & she does so softly in order not to hurt Sakura any.
But what she ever so glad she got the whole scenario on video, recording it start to finish!
Another great one for my archives!, Tomoyo thought proudly, her dimples hurt somewhat from smiling.
"Hey there, pretty little balloon lady!", said a new voice – a male one. Sakura & Tomoyo turn to see the new arrival, & both smile with glee when they see a new pair of familiar faces. One was a boy both their height & around the same age, wearing blue shorts, black shoes, white shirt & small hat of the same color. His hair was brown, with eyes to match & also wore a backpack like the two girls. His accomplice – a female – stood right beside him, wearing a baby blue skirt, baby pink shirt & red shoes. She had orange-red eyes, & a head of long jet black hair. On the sides of it was a bun which sprouted a pair of strands that almost reached her waist. Unlike the other three, this one wore an orange satchel that hung from her shoulder.
Sakura & Tomoyo were overjoyed with their arrival.
"Meilin!", Tomoyo said happily.
"Shaoran!", Sakura said in the same manner.
The two Li cousins rush up to the ladies – Meilin to Tomoyo, & Shaoran to Sakura. They embrace in a warm hug, joyful beyond anything else to be seeing everyone again. Kero, upon hearing Shaoran's voice even from inside Sakura's backpack, is another story.
So, the kid & the brat finally arrived, he thought bitterly, folding his arms & sulking. There goes my good mood for the day!
"Sorry that Meilin & I were late getting here, Sakura", Shaoran said once his hugging was done. "Wei needed our help with a few things, & being a guardian & caretaker to us ever since we were kids, we couldn't turn him down, let alone say no to the old man. Hope you understand."
"Perfectly!", Sakura said. "Mr. Wei's been like a father to you & Meilin. He's very much like my dad – caring for those under his wing with a great big heart."
Shaoran couldn't help but grin.
"You haven't changed a bit, Sakura", said Meilin with a grin of her own. "I guess that's why you're such a popular person at Tomoeda Elementary. And you're not too shabby in Phys Ed either."
"She's not too shabby in anything, Meilin", Tomoyo says with passion. "That's why I love to record her every moment when I can, so as not to miss a thing. Right, Sakura?"
Sakura was utterly speechless even before they turned to her.
Again, Tomoyo?, she thought, feeling herself getting smaller without the help of the Little Card.
"It's nothing for you to feel embarrassed about, Sakura", Tomoyo adds. "It's your gift, & a rather fabulous one at that. How many girls your age can say they've done the things you did in recent times? I'd say it's a pretty short list, virtually nonexistent."
Tomoyo winks, finishing off her point. Meilin nodded, fully agreeing.
"She's not wrong, Sakura", Shaoran says, getting closer to her & lowering his voice. "You did the one thing even I couldn't do – defeat Yue during the Final Judgment & becoming the new master of the Clow Cards. And on a more personal note, Sakura: I can tell, or rather, sense, that you were destined to be instead of me. I'm very glad it did turn out that way."
Seeing Shaoran's smile made Sakura do the same, her heart palpitating with joy.
"Same here", she said sincerely. "But please remember that I couldn't have done it without your invaluable assistance, Shaoran. Even after I became their master, you still stayed by me when Eriol put me through all those strange tests to further prove myself worthy of the title. There's no way I could've reached my goal were you not there. And for that, I cannot thank or love you enough."
"Sakura…", Shaoran says softly, his lips only an inch from hers.
"So…we going to hit the games at this festival, or what?", Meilin says, interrupting the moment. "We didn't come all this way just to watch others have fun, you know!"
Gotta love Meilin's sense of timing, Shaoran thought with a smile, shaking his head amusingly.
"I'd love to, Meilin, but I've been assigned to help hand out balloons to the customers like I'd promised. Sorry", Sakura explains.
"Don't be, Sakura. I think you've more than earned a break."
A man in gray shorts & shoes, white shirt & black tie walked up towards Sakura & her group. He had a head of brown hair that was spiked at the top. His face was yet another the quartet was all but happy to see: Yoshiyuki Terada, their homeroom teacher.
"Mr. Terada!", they all said.
"Hello everyone. Hope you're enjoying the festival so far", Terada said back, looking at Sakura. "That goes for you too, Sakura. You more than kept your word when you helped out, so why don't you let me take over here while you go off with your friends & have a good time?"
"You mean it?", Sakura asked hopeful.
"Of course. Here – let me take those off your hands", Terada said, taking the balloons Sakura had in her hand. "Go ahead now. Enjoy the festival like everyone else is."
"Then again, Meilin, what are we waiting for? Thanks, Mr. Terada!", Sakura said with a smile, waving her gratitude to him as she, Shaoran, Tomoyo & Meilin take off to join in the festivities. Terada waves back, proud to see one of his star students having fun like she has the right to.
She always was special, Terada thought happily.
He just had no idea how special Sakura Kinomoto is.
Going over the blueprints very carefully & burning every detail inside their brains, Sarah & John Connor headed into the city to get out & stretch their legs, having been cooped up for hours within the shack Chujo & his wife Reiko owned. They were very careful to keep themselves concealed, wearing a pair of mirrored shades & even had a change of clothes before taking off, switching their attire from light-colored clothing to dark. Sarah kept her long hair the way it was but brushed more thoroughly to smooth it out so that it's indistinguishable from her wanted pictures. John was the same, but he didn't require much change as his mother. He cut his hair short & kept it that way long before they arrived in Japan, his demeanor totally different from his profile from the previous year.
Taking public transportation & never making direct eye contact, Sarah & John headed into Tokyo.
They arrived one block away from Tomoeda Central Park.
"Over there, mom. We can get ourselves some nourishment at this festival they're having", John said, pointing towards it.
Sarah was less enthusiastic about the idea.
"Are you kidding me, John?", she asks in a low voice, being none too pleased. "We're here in this country on a very important assignment, one that's designated to prevent nuclear Armageddon from ever occurring on our planet, & you want to go to a fucking festival?! Now,of all times?!"
"Mom, what's wrong with that?"
"What's wrong with it?! How about this: we're on a timetable to make sure that whatever's on a disc doesn't go anywhere except to oblivion, & on top of that, who knows how many of those things are pursuing us even as we speak?! Dammit, John, you need to wake up to what's really going on in our lives! Because if you don't, then none of us will! Do you understand?!"
John took all he can from his mother, & he stares at her hard as he gives her a reprimand.
"Listen, mom!", he states, keeping his voice hard but low. "I am fully aware of what my calling in life is, even before I was born! But now it's you who needs to understand something, so listen to me really good: yes, we have a mission not just this country, but wherever we go! And yes, it's our job to prevent the future you've always told me about from happening & stop the machines, but that still doesn't mean that we have to be like them!"
"Excuse me?", Sarah says, confused.
"No! You heard me! You're really starting to become what it is you're fighting, & less of what it is you're fighting for!"
"And that would be what, exactly?"
"Your humanity! Every day, you become as cold & calculating as the machines we need to stop, & if either of us continues going down that path, then what's the whole point of doing this – any of this – in the first place? You've become more lost in touch with reality now than when you were locked up at Pescadero, & all I'm trying to do is help bring you back to where it is you belong – with people, with your own kind! For this war, I need more than good soldiers to command! I need my mother! And right now, you're acting like anything but her! Does any of what I'm saying make sense to you? Because I need to know…now!"
Sarah stared silently at her son. She knew he had a good point: his destiny had more or less been carved in stone long before his birth, & all that Sarah ever did to him was teach him to be the great leader of the Resistance if & when Skynet should ever become sentient & declare war against mankind everywhere on the planet. While it's been good for her to learn all she can from whoever she can, she has to confess that she's been driving herself away from reality by avoiding others like someone else was at the wheel instead of her.
And being isolated at that house in Lake Cachuma didn't help either; in fact, it almost gave her & even John a lethal dose of Cabin Fever, being away from their fellow man & woman for too long.
They had to be careful of not just the possibility of running into more Terminators at any given time, but also of losing their sanity and, as John just put it, humanity. Should they lose either, then the machines & Skynet have already won.
Sarah couldn't allow that.
She bent down on one knee & looked at her son, a look of guilt on her face.
"You're right, John", she said softly. "Being just as cold as our enemy isn't how we should operate on any given day. I have been getting more distant from my fellow people, haven't I? John…"
A tear formed in her left eye.
"Mom, it's okay", John said, hugging his mother & comforting her. "Our humanity is what makes us different from them, & that's what we need if we're to win this thing. Don't worry – I'll always be with you to make sure you never lose sight of that, okay?"
"Thank you, John", Sarah said, kissing him on his cheek. "I suppose we could rejoin our kind for a little bit. Only, let's not waste too much time over there, okay hon?"
"An hour, tops. Plenty of time for us to get some nourishment & refuel ourselves for what we need to do."
"Another aspect that separates us from the machines."
John smiles proudly.
"Now you're catching on!", he says, reciting his mother's own words. It made Sarah laugh.
And for her, it felt good.
"Let's go & get our bellies filled", she says, her mood much improved. "You lead the way."
"Like I was intended for", John said, making Sarah smile wider as she let her son take her over to Tomoeda Central Park where the festival took place.
For over four hours, Sakura & company spent the day on set-up rides, booths where folks played games like Ring Toss & Darts, merchandise booths that sold all kinds of wonderful things from jewelry to stuffed animals, & whatever else the Summer Festival had to offer to the good people of the city as it does every year. They even get a treat of watching a family of elephants being bathed by their trainers, & even pull one of them into the pool with their trunks, getting guffaws of amusement from the crowd. Nearly everything they had didn't go untried or unvisited by the happy quartet, & after getting to & trying it all, the four settle down to enjoy some refreshments needed to satisfy their growling stomachs & quench their parched throats, being in the hot sun for most of the time. Cups of cool fruit punch & juice, coupled with tasty cuisine consisting of fish on a stick, cups of rice, shrimp, a hard-boiled egg, & some dessert of ice cream & slices of cake, pastries & cookies when the main meal was finished. When no one noticed, Sakura slipped some food to Kero in her backpack, who gobbled it up like a raving lunatic. Sakura warns him to keep the noise down so as not to attract any attention to them.
At least, not any they wanted to attract, like a small yellow creature with wings chowing down on food within a confined space of a young girl's backpack.
Or when it belches like a certain character from 'The Simpsons'.
Sakura & Shaoran scour the area around them to make sure no one was close by to hear, while Meilin & Tomoyo place a hand over their mouths, doing their best to suppress a giggle that threatens to bust out.
"He never stops, does he?", Shaoran asks.
"Nope. He acts more like a pig than a guardian beast at times!", Sakura says with a scowl, staring at her side between her & Shaoran where she lay her backpack.
"Uh, you know I can hear you guys talking about me out there", Kero says, his voice muffled.
"Good!", Sakura & Shaoran say, staring at the backpack & doing their level best not to bust out laughing themselves.
You just wait until later on, kid!, Kero thought angrily, hearing them snickering. Are you ever in for a surprise!
Barely getting themselves under control, the group changes the subject, with Meilin starting off.
"So…here we all are again! Summer vacation's in full bloom, & for once we all get to really enjoyourselves without something strange occurring to spoil it all! Cheers!"
"Cheers!", Sakura, Shaoran & Tomoyo all say together, raising their cups with Meilin, & they all make a toast in perfect rhythm before taking a drink.
"Just like old times!", Tomoyo says. "Al though they were mischievous in spots, I have to admit they were still fun! I couldn't ask for anything better than in being it just the four of us, always through the best & worst of times!"
"Amen!", Sakura, Shaoran & Meilin say.
"And Shaoran?", Meilin goes on. "I just want to say…although it does pain me to know that I've let you loose to be with Sakura, you couldn't have picked anyone better to spend the rest of your days with. And…"
Tears begin to run down her cheeks.
"I know Sakura will make you very happy. She does have that effect on people."
"Meilin…", Shaoran started to say, but Meilin wipes away her tears & puts a hand up to prevent him from going over to her or even say anything.
"You don't have to apologize for anything, Shaoran", she continues. "Don't forget: it was me who made that arrangement in the first place. You simply agreed to it, & you've more than fulfilled your end of our deal. I couldn't be happier for you both if I tried. Tomoyo?"
"What say you & I head on over to the animal cages again, just the two of us?"
Tomoyo instantly caught on to Meilin's ploy even before giving her a wink, & nodded.
"Sounds good to me, Meilin! See you two later!", Tomoyo said, rising with her friend & they take off back towards the cages to catch more shows of the park's animals.
Sakura & Shaoran were left by themselves, unsure of what to say as they stare at each other.
"You know, Sakura, I…", Shaoran starts to say, getting a bit tongue-tied. "I…I'm glad I came back to stay for good here in Japan. You taught me a great deal when we were chasing & capturing the Clow Cards – about trusting & thinking of others, accepting help & working together, but most important, how to express my feelings to another when I can no longer deny it. Because of these factors & more, I just had to return to you, Sakura. The thought of living my life without you was much too unbearable."
Sakura felt herself getting closer to Shaoran without her even noticing it. Now she was about half a foot from his face as she inches even closer to his lips. Shaoran made no attempt to stop her or even pull himself away.
"Shaoran…", she said, & they both began closing their eyes.
Elsewhere in the park:
A booth serving bowls of noodles caught the eyes of the Connors, & they headed over to get their share of them. Using chopsticks, Sarah & John began digging in with no trouble on using the utensils. A relieved feeling soon swells within them, most notably for Sarah: it's been hours since their last meal, & her stomach did start hurting from the lack of sustenance that felt more like days. John was getting used to the idea of giving advice to her in recent days, & Sarah was proud of him for it. He convinced her that the T-800 sent from his future self to protect him was vital to their cause last year, & all she wanted to do was smash its CPU chip when she'd removed it temporarily. John stepped in at the last second, his hand a millimeter away from getting them smashed. It proved to be the right choice: were it not for the T-800, they no doubt wouldn't still be alive.
Sarah loved John for making choices like that, even if some were repulsive sometimes.
But she didn't find this choice that way. She looks around, seeing happy kids & their parents on rides, taking pictures of the animals, getting food & souvenirs from booths, & so forth. It makes her wonder if she & John can ever be that joyful in their lives. Maybe when they're absolutely positive that Skynet will never become sentient.
Or maybe when pigs fly, Sarah thought sarcastically, finishing her noodles. No, Sarah Connor: don't think like that. That's how the machines do, thinking our extinction is a foregone conclusion. You must believe you & John can win against Skynet. Stay positive…for him. And Kyle. And Dyson.
The thought of Kyle Reese almost made her cry, but Sarah kept her composure. To show any sign of weakness in front of John now will be a liability in their cause, & even in serene times like this, it might destroy what they're to accomplish.
"That really hit the spot", Sarah said, feeling much better inside.
"See? It was a good idea to come here after all", John replied back, finishing his own noodles. "Now for a drink to wash it all down & get rehydrated. So…fruit punch or juice? Mom?"
Sarah was a few booths away from where John stood, walking over to a booth that served most unusual items – bottles of drinks like scotch, gin, rum, & others which were primarily for the adults.
Luckily, Sarah qualifies.
"Can I help you, miss?", the merchant asks.
"A bottle of some of your best scotch, if you please", Sarah said, handing him a bill of 10,000 yen.
Taking the bill, the merchant grabs a bottle of scotch & hands it to Sarah, who takes it almost in an instant. Unscrewing the cap, she takes a quick swig of the drink when John arrives with a drink of his own – a cup of juice.
"Mom! What the hell are you doing?", he asks in disbelief.
"Getting myself a drink like you suggested. Why?", she replied like it's no big deal.
"But scotch?! At this time of day?!"
Sarah wasn't even listening. She began drinking the bottle in gulps as John & curious onlookers, including the merchant, stared at her like she was an alien from another planet. Sarah kept on drinking the scotch until she finished about 2/3 of its contents. Those who viewed the spectacle were shocked & amazed at the woman's ability to literally hold her liquor the way she did & not choke in the attempt. No one can decide if she was human or not, draining over half the bottle's contents like that in one swoop.
Finally, she screws the cap back on & faces the merchant again.
"Not bad. Not bad at all", Sarah said. "Tell you what – hand over two more bottles of the same stuff & bag 'em. They're for the road."
Reluctantly, the merchant nods & takes two more bottles of Sarah's order & place them in a bag before placing them on the counter for her to take. John couldn't believe what his mom was doing – all he wanted was to get some sustenance before going their way, & she's getting herself plastered right in front of a decent crowd. And now she's purchasing two more bottles of poison to take with them.
And she's the one who didn't want to draw any unnecessary attention to ourselves!, John said to himself, shaking his head sadly. Oh well…at least she gave up the damn cigarettes!
Thank Heaven for small favors!
From behind the Connors, people were making a path for two uniformed cops who were going through with hardly any interference. They stop at a distance of twenty feet as the first cop speaks.
"Excuse us…Sarah & John Connor?"
The calling of their names made the Connor's blood freeze even in the heat. Slowly, they turn to see two uniformed police officers, one with a goatee surrounding his mouth. In their right hands was an IMI Uzi which they raise as one. The Connor's hearts race & jump to their throats, not only because these two cops were about to kill them, but also because they know they weren't cops at all.
They were two time-traveling cyborgs with only one objective in mind.
Terminating the biggest threats to them.
Both 'cops' squeeze the triggers, & bullets start to fly.
Tomoeda Central Park, everywhere:
Pandemonium struck at what is supposed to be a day of fun & excitement for families & friends in one of the most peaceful places in all the city.
It abruptly escalated into a day filled with terror, as people were scattering like cockroaches & screaming in terror as a pair of maniacal officers were firing at a mother & son, who dive for cover only a split-second before they opened up with hot lead. Sarah & John ducked just in time to avoid the volley, but several bystanders weren't so fortunate, having been struck down where they stood. That included the merchant who served Sarah her bottles of scotch, being riddled with bullets & falling to the ground as numerous bottles get shattered & liquor of all kinds get spilled & glass fly everywhere.
The Connors stayed behind a booth that gave them some protection against the deadly barrage, but they knew it wouldn't hold up for too much longer due to the way their enemies were firing with the relentlessness they're known for. Searching fast, Sarah saw a location that would stand up better, & gestured to John to show him. He nodded, & prayed they'll make it when the right moment came.
For humanity's sake, they had to.
Their lips were right on the verge of making contact when the shooting & screaming started, putting Sakura & Shaoran on full alert & they rise to their feet.
"Shaoran! Is that…gunfire we're hearing?!", Sakura asks, somewhat panicked.
"Gunfire?! Here?!", Kero says, getting out of Sakura's backpack.
"I'm afraid it is!", Shaoran says. "Someone's declared open season on festival-goers!"
"But where are Tomoyo & Meilin?!", Sakura said, deathly scared for their well-being.
Kero hides himself in the former's backpack as Naoko, Yamazaki, Rika, Chiharu & Mr. Terada all race up to them, their faces full of worry & trepidation.
"You guys! What's going on out there?! Who's doing all the shooting?!", Shaoran asks.
"It's horrible, Shaoran!", Yamazaki says in the one time he's not telling lies. "Two officers began firing automatic weapons at a mother & her kid, hitting & killing several bystanders!"
"We barely managed to escape getting hit, & poor Rika nearly caught a stray shot!", Naoko says, on the verge of panic as Rika nods, her heart feeling like it's going to burst.
"Sakura, you & Shaoran need to get out of here now!", Chiharu says, her eyes about to cry from being so scared.
"But we don't see Tomoyo & Meilin anywhere! We have to find them!", Sakura said.
"But Sakura…", Mr. Terada started to say before Shaoran cut in.
"No, she's right! Mr. Terada, you get these four out of here! Sakura & I will find Tomoyo & Meilin ourselves! Please…just go!"
With no time to debate the subject, Terada nods.
"Please be very careful, you two!", Terada says, urging the group of four to vacate the premises.
By now, most of the people have fled the carnage ensuing around them, leaving only a handful left who run as fast as they can without daring to peer over their shoulders. Kero risks being exposed as he exits Sakura's backpack, but the park is almost deserted. Those who are still there were too busy running for cover to notice a floating yellow creature in the vicinity.
"Did I hear him right, you guys?!", Kero asks. "Did he say 'officers', like in those guys who 'Protect & Serve' the community?!"
"We can worry about the 'who' & 'why' later, Kero!", Sakura said. "Right now, we need to find Meilin & Tomoyo before they take a bullet!"
She takes off running before Shaoran or Kero can object, & they follow her.
Please be all right, you two!, Sakura thought with dread.
Blessedly, both Tomoyo & Meilin rush towards them almost immediately, seemingly unhurt.
"Sakura!", Tomoyo cried.
"Shaoran!", Meilin cried.
"Tomoya! Meilin! Are you two okay?!", Shaoran asked.
"Just barely!", Tomoyo said, her hands shaking slightly. "When we heard the shooting, we were so scared for the two of you that you might've been hit, &…"
"We're all right, Tomoyo!", Sakura assured her. "We're just as relieved that you two weren't hit!"
"What of Rika & the others, & Mr. Terada?", Meilin wondered.
"They made it out okay!", Shaoran said. "Right now, we need to…"
"Hey you two! Hold it right there!", shouted a voice from several yards away. The quartet turned to see two real officers with their guns drawn at the two cop impostors, both of whom paid them no mind like they weren't even there.
Until they opened fire.
The bullets hardly fazed the two renegades when they got struck in the back, but they did grab their attention. Turning around, the two cyborgs raised their other arms which held standard officer's guns & fired off a trio of shots. Both cops get struck in the chest & go down immediately with grunts of pain & surprise, hitting the ground on their backs & never getting up again.
The scenario shocked Sakura & her group with gasps of fright & agape eyes.
It also gave Sarah & John Connor their chance.
"Now, John!", she said, & mother & son ran for their next barricade – the famed Penguin Slide which gave the park its high popularity. Hearing their feet hit pavement, the two Terminators in cop's outfits turned back to resume their assault, the bullets now hitting hard concrete, chipping away pieces of stone. Although it gave way, it still provided better protection than the booth they dove under.
But sooner or later, Sarah & John knew they'd try & outflank them on either side of the structure & ambush them. Fortunately, Sarah had a plan: being armed with her two bottles of scotch, her lighter & some cloth, she & John got to work on making them into weapons & waited for the time to attack.
Someone else, however, was ready to attack now.
"That's going too far!", Meilin snaps, her hands into fists. "It's bad enough they're shooting at unarmed civilians, but now it's at their own people?!"
"What kind of cops are they, anyway?", Tomoyo asks.
"Those aren't cops, Tomoyo! They're madmen! And they need to be put down like the mad dogs they are!", Meilin says, charging in after the lunatic lawmen.
"Meilin, wait!", Shaoran shouted.
"What are you doing?! Get back here, you dumb brat!", Kero shouted.
Meilin ignored her friends (especially Kero!) & kept running right up towards the two rogue cops firing at the mother & son behind the Penguin Slide, coming at them like she was a bullet herself. One of them senses her approach & aims its weapons at her, but not only was Meilin fast on her feet, she was fast with her hands too. Using her martial art skills she'd been taught by Wei since her childhood, Meilin uses a combo of her fists & feet to first knock out both weapons out of the assailant's hands. The guns get thrown out of the madman's reach, & Meilin quickly follows it up with a deadly & fatal kick to the face with all the strength her leg can muster. The blow forces her foe's head to the left as far as it could go with a sound that strangely resembled someone hitting a metal pipe with a wrench.
It didn't matter to Meilin, though: with the strength she used in her kick, any man coming into contact with it would undoubtedly have been murdered instantly.
Unfortunately for Meilin, the figure currently before her is not a man.
The assassin placed his head back & stared back at Meilin, never even feeling her kick in any way, shape or form.
No fucking way! He should be in la-la land right about now!, Meilin thought, her eyes wide & in a state of shock at the ineffectiveness of her attack. It left her open to a counterattack by the lunatic who delivers a kick of his own to Meilin with force that sends her sprawling across the concrete all the way to Sakura & company.
"Meilin!", they all shouted as Shaoran takes her in his arms.
"Meilin! Are you okay?", he asked.
"Shaoran…that guy…he isn't human…", Meilin says in baited breaths from shock & exhaustion.
Sarah waited until the girl with twin black strands of hair on the sides of her head was finished pretending to be Bruce Lee, getting kicked by the Terminator she'd disarmed. Turning the corner of the concrete slide, Sarah turned her bottle of scotch into a Molotov Cocktail with a rag in the neck that was lit & threw it at the Terminator that kicked the girl. It saw the homemade weapon coming its way & put its left arm up to block it, but it still did damage: the flames burned its arm & entire head, setting both on fire which began melting away its flesh. John threw the second Molotov at the other Terminator, but this one was shot in mid-air halfway & exploded in a ball of flame, never reaching its destination.
But the one that got hit with the flames tore away the burned flesh to reveal a new piece of info to Sakura & her friends: where there should be bone was glistening metal at the first killer's left arm & head, revealing metal 'skeletons' with red glowing eyes of total malice.
"I don't believe it!", said Shaoran, helping Meilin up. "They're…robots!"
"No wonder it didn't feel Meilin's kick before!", Tomoyo said, recording the horrifying but still amazing spectacle with her handheld camcorder. "They're not even alive!"
Sakura was in shock herself, but it went beyond that. She recalled the dream she had the other night of the woman & kid that got killed by the two assassins just before Tokyo exploded in a ball of white light & incinerated everything, including the killers to reveal their metal 'bones' underneath.
And this scenario is acting out very similar to it!
This is playing out just like in my dream!, Sakura thought. And that mother & son they're trying to kill look exactly like those I saw in it! That means…
Coming out of it, Sakura's eyes turn into a menacing scowl.
"Since that is the case, it changes everything!", she says, digging into her shirt at her neck to pull out her Star locket she keeps hanging on a chain.
"Sakura, what do you think you're doing?!", Kero asked, as if he didn't already know.
"What does it look like, Kero? I'm going to stop those two killer robots before that mother & son die by their hands!", Sakura stated.
"But here in broad daylight?! What if somebody sees you using your power?!"
"It's a chance I'll have to take! Now step back!"
Neither Kero nor anyone else said anything further, as Sakura concentrated on her power, her Star locket hovering between her outstretched hands. With a semi-astrological circle that appears right under her feet & a wall of light that measures her height, Sakura speaks her chant.
"The key which hides powers of the Stars! Show your true form before me! I, Sakura, command you under our contract! Release!"
Upon chanting her words, the pink locket with star circle & angel wings at one end both grows & extends to a length of 2-3 feet. Grabbing her backpack, she takes out her pink book that has a sealed latch on the right side. On the front of it says 'Sakura'.
She brought the book with her?, Tomoyo thought, holding up Meilin with one arm while she records the action with her free hand as Shaoran charged after the other Terminator – still holding its guns – with his sword drawn. The killer machine sees him rushing towards it & turns to fire its guns. As a surpsised Tomoyo & Meilin watch, Shaoran dodges oncoming bullets & expertly throws his sword like a boomerang. The weapon twirls & travels through the air at a deadly velocity, almost becoming a pair of helicopter blades. Unable to avoid it, the Terminator's head gets sheared off from the neck & flies away many yards from its main body, now headless. Sparks form at the severed portion, & the body stood there motionless like a statue.
Shaoran's sword returned to him, & he grabs the handle as Sakura calls out his name.
He turns to see her holding up a pink card that has a picture of what looked like a giant koi – the name for a Japanese goldfish – with pointed fins & a light pink jewel at the top of its head.
The Freeze Card. Shaoran nods his approval.
"Do it!", he says & distances himself away from the Terminators when Sakura tosses the Freeze Card in the air & holds up her Star Wand underneath it. The angel wings expand to a larger size, & the star in the middle of its circled top lights up, activating the card. The giant koi appears with a surface of baby blue & white eyes & floats over towards the two machines. Even if its partner hadn't had its head sliced off, it still wouldn't have been ready for this new method of attack upon it: the Freeze Card began 'swimming' in a circle around the two machines, making the temperature of that one area plummet down to extreme cold. Ice formed on both, covering them from top to bottom. In no time, the Freeze Card returned to Sakura, leaving the Terminators encased in something as cold as they are.
During that time, Sakura called upon another card that held a picture of an elf-like female oni – a spirit.
The Shot Card – one of the most dangerous in the deck, it once nearly killed Shaoran after being called its name accidentally by Meilin.
Bringing it to life, the Shot Card had a head of long reddish hair with a yellow stripe in the center. Sakura commanded it to do what it does best to the two frozen robots in the park. Turning its arms into light, the Shot fires twin beams of energy at both machines with pinpoint accuracy, smashing them into many broken pieces of metal like they are nothing more than glass: an arm here, a leg there, & so forth.
Its job done, the Shot returns to Sakura & both it & the Freeze get transformed into cards once again, going back inside Sakura's pink book which once said 'The Clow'. When the Freeze went back in, all the ice it formed disappeared, leaving only what remained of the two Terminators.
Although glad to have captured the moment on video, Tomoyo still felt uneasy about it, no doubt due to the fact that several people got killed in today's shootout. But whatever those robots were or how she felt, she knew it was hard evidence of what feels like a large conspiracy of some kind.
If only she knew of what.
"I'll be all right now, Tomoyo. Thanks", Meilin said, being true to her word as she stood up on her own without Tomoyo acting like a crutch. They smiled at each other briefly.
"You okay, Shaoran?", Sakura asked.
"I'll live", he says, holding the severed head of the Terminator he sliced off in his hands, its red eyes dark. "Nice choice of cards to use, by the way."
"For once, kid, I agree with you", Kero said. "The Freeze Card makes metal & other substances very brittle at lower than freezing temperatures, making them vulnerable to most forms of attack. And using the Shot Card was the perfect choice for that little maneuver."
He nods, complying with the guardian beast on friendly terms – for a change!
With the threat of the killer robots dealt with, the group now examines the metal skull Shaoran holds. They study it at all angles when Shaoran twirls it in his hands. As always, Tomoyo records it on video, not wanting to miss a moment of what she's now witnessing.
"I've never seen machinery like this before!", Meilin says. "Have you, Shaoran?"
"Neither have I, Meilin", he says. "This kind of technology is way too advanced."
"You said it, kid", Kero said, hovering in for a closer look. "I doubt that even Clow Reed himself could identify what this kind of technical wonder is, let alone its origin."
"So nobody knows where they came from?", Tomoyo asks.
"They came from the future", said a woman's voice. The group turn to see Sarah & John Connor approach them, half relieved & the other half amazed. Both lost their shades during the raid.
It is them! Somehow, I just know it!, Sakura thought as Sarah kneels down to look her in the eye, ignoring the rest, including Kero. They were only a foot apart from each other.
"How in the hell did you just do that?", Sarah asked with a bewildered face.
"Who cares, mom? That shit was awesome!", John said enthusiastically. "Do it again!"
"John!", Sarah snapped at her son, quieting him as she turned back to Sakura.
"It's, uh…kind of a long story, miss", Sakura said nervously, seeing as to how she & her son were the first outsiders besides Tomoyo & Meilin to watch her perform her magic. "But I couldn't just let those robots murder you & your son, so I had little choice but to act. Neither of you got hit, did you?"
"Thankfully, no. If you hadn't stepped in when you did, though…"
"Excuse me, miss", Tomoyo says. "Why were those robots so set on trying to assassinate you & your son so adamantly?"
"That's kind of a 'long story' of its own, & one that you kids don't need to know about", Sarah says sternly, rising from the ground. "Now, if you'll just excuse us…"
"Wait just a minute there, miss!", Kero snapped, getting in Sarah's face with a scowl & gritting his teeth. "Two officers & several innocent bystanders got killed in order to get to you & your son! Were it not for Sakura & the kid here, many more could've suffered the same fate! And they did go & save your sorry asses just now, so maybe you do owe her & the rest of us an explanation about what's going on! It's the least you can do, you know!"
Sarah was getting impatient & shook her head in frustration.
"Look, whatever the hell you are, the less you know about this, the better!", she said, strolling past him & the others with her son right behind her. "Believe me, you don't want to enter our world at this point! Not to sound ungrateful to you or anything, but…"
Sarah & John got a few steps away when Shaoran's sword curved & struck the spot where Sarah's feet lay at, sticking on a slant. She stepped back a few feet & shielded John when Shaoran ran up & took his weapon back & stood in a defensive position, with Meilin doing the same. Shaoran's sword was a foot away from Sarah's face.
"But nothing, miss!", he barked. "Now I recognize who the two of you are – you're Sarah & John Connor, right?"
"The psycho bitch from Pescadero who escaped from there with her son & another individual, & later on blew up the damn Cyberdyne building!", Meilin said, not a question. "I thought you both had looked mighty familiar to me, too!"
"So…you made us out, did you?", Sarah said indifferently. "It doesn't matter – my son & I have a job to do here, so get the hell out of our way! Now!"
"So you can go & blow up another computer building?! We don't think so!", Shaoran said. "We're bringing you two over to the police station to be taken back to Pescadero! Now…do you & your son want to come with us willingly, or do Meilin & I wish to carry you there after we knock you both out?"
"First of all, kid, neither of you are even going to touch me, or my son!", Sarah said, getting in a defensive pose herself. "Secondly, you all have impeded our progress long enough, & every second you delay us will only result in a catastrophe like you wouldn't believe, now move!"
"Not gonna happen! So…easy or hard? You decide!"
"Move, children! Believe me, I don't want to hurt either of you!"
"Oh, don't worry about that, little miss fugitive – you won't!", said Meilin.
Sarah stood her ground as Shaoran & Meilin did the same, with neither side backing down or giving an inch. It seemed like an eternity until Sakura came running towards them, with Tomoyo & Kero following right behind.
"Wait a minute, stop! All of you!", Sakura said, stopping in between & facing Shaoran & Meilin. "Listen! Sarah & John Connor may really not be the criminals we all believe them to be!"
"Not the…", Meilin says in disbelief. "Sakura, they blew up a building! Plus, it caused the death of a man who once worked there! Not only that…"
"Trust me, Meilin, I'm am aware of what these two have done!", Sakura pressed on. "But aside from their criminal records & the felonies they committed, these two are something of a prophecy!"
"What?! These two?!"
"You're kidding us, right?", Shaoran asked, just as disbelieving of it all. Sakura shook her head in answer.
"How do you know this, Sakura?", Tomoyo asked.
Sakura took a deep breath & exhaled it.
"Because…I saw these two in my dream the last few nights", she said, getting gasps from all which included the Connors themselves.
"You actually saw us…", Sarah started to say.
"In your dream?", John finished.
Sakura nodded at the Connors.
"I also saw those machines in my dream too", she continues. "I couldn't figure it out at first, but now I think I've pieced it together somehow." She faces her friends. "Listen, you guys: we need to find out what it all means, & Sarah & John here are the missing pieces of this puzzle. Kero always warned me to pay close attention to my dreams, & this particular one deserves my fullest. So this is what we'll do: we bring them back to my house so they can explain their story to us. If their story coincides with my dream, then we act upon it."
"And if it doesn't?", asked Shaoran.
"Then we take them to the police, but not before we fully hear them out." Sakura turns to the Connors. "Is that acceptable to you?"
Sarah & John stared hard at Sakura & her group. In other circumstances, they'd make a break for it & fight their way out if they had to. But these kids did save their lives when no one else could, & they also did feel very bad for those who got hit when the Terminators unloaded on them.
For now, they deserve the benefit of the doubt, just like they're offering.
"All right, yes. That is acceptable", Sarah said finally. John nodded.
"But what about all that Terminator metal?", John asked, pointing towards it. "We can't just let it lay there."
"We also don't want to be here when the authorities arrive either", Sarah said. "Much as it pains me, John, we haven't the time or the resources to move it all before then."
"Actually, Sarah…we do", Sakura said, holding up a card for all to see. This card sported a picture of a small triangular basket or pendulum with a red gem on the front. On the top are a pair of long wings, similar to Kero's own in his true form.
The Move Card.
"Will it even work, Sakura?", Shaoran asks. "The Move Card's power isn't that great, so it can only do so with small objects."
"That was before I transformed it, Shaoran", Sakura said. "It's grown a lot stronger since then. It'll do the job."
That said, Sakura activated it.
Both groups watched in awe as Terminator metal got picked up by a pair of red wings & made each piece vanish before their eyes.
Where they end up at, only Sakura currently knows.
Kinomoto Residence, 5:30 p.m.:
The moving of all the Terminator pieces at the park took less time than any of them – even Sakura – had expected, & they took off to head for Sakura's house.
Like they promised, Sarah & John Connor accompanied them to Sakura's home without any kind of trouble, either by anyone on the streets or the group itself. They also managed to avoid running into any police for the entire trip back. Once they made it, Sarah asked for a quick shower for her & John, along with having their clothing changed. Fortunately, Sakura had extra clothes from their attic which weren't used by either her mom, dad or Toya in years. Also lucky was that they seemed to be their size, but that had to wait until they try them out for themselves once they've washed.
Hardly anyone from Sakura's group was thrilled in keeping two known fugitives from the States inside her home, but the dream Sakura had with them & the Terminators in it hanging over their heads made them bear with the notion. Like Kero mentioned to her a few times, Sakura's dreams hold a very specific meaning. What occurred in it & at Tomoeda Central Park was too similar to each other, & it had to be investigated.
No way was it a mere coincidence.
Sakura's dreams seldom are.
In the time the Connors washed up in the bathroom, Sakura & the others got themselves some nourishment to replenish their bodies after the harrowing experience almost two hours previous. It also helped to melt away some of the tension, for they were pretty shaken up having never gone through something like a brutal shootout before.
Meilin, Shaoran & even Kero were still most skeptical about letting the Connors remain in the house, knowing they were wanted by the law. If not for Sakura's dream & her insistence, they wouldn't have hesitated in bringing them to the police station – by force, if need be.
Right now, they hear them out first.
When the Connors were done with their shower, they dressed in the clothes Sakura offered: the mother put on a pair of Self-Defense Forces fatigues & placed her hair in a ponytail, while John put on fatigues of the same nature, leaving his hair slicked back. They had asked how she had them in their pile, & Sakura explained that they used to belong to her older brother Toya: the one John wore when Toya was his age for fun, the latter when he served in the SDF for a year right before Sakura became a Cardcaptor. They all met up in the living room, & Shaoran left the Terminator skull on the table's edge, its face in the direction of where Sakura sat.
Getting a quick bite to eat, Sarah Connor started telling the group of the Terminators from the future & why they were being sent back through time to kill her & her son. Beginning with the killings of two other women who share her name, Sarah told her story in as accurate a description as possible, right on up to their info from Tarissa Dyson that brought them to Japan. The kids & Kero listened to her very carefully, not missing anything. Despite their agreement, Sarah was still rather reluctant to fill them in on all the details, & for more than the fact that they were kids. But then she realized that if the computer Skynet isn't stopped & wages its war on mankind, where could they go? And even if they do manage to survive the nuclear assault, they'll only be facing a new threat to their person.
They'll be fighting machines of all shapes & sizes from Terminators to HKs to god-knows-what from Skynet's wicked assembly line.
Keeping that in mind & because they both owe them, Sarah went & clearly laid it out.
Now it was Sakura's turn to spill the beans: she went & put in detailed description of the time she found the Clow Book right on up to the dream she had the other night of her, the Connors & the four Terminators. Like Sarah's story, Sakura gave accurate info in everything. Shaoran & Kero disliked the idea of Sakura sharing such sacred info with two ordinary humans, let alone those who were still at large, but considering the details of both their stories that seem to somewhat intertwine at the end, they didn't have much choice.
But despite having no magical abilities, John Connor was far from an ordinary human.
At least, he will be in the future, if he lives that long.
"So the capsule form of your situation is this", Tomoyo says. "In the future, a super-computer called Skynet will become alive somehow & consider all humankind as its enemy, beginning with an all-out nuclear attack, followed by these Terminators & other machines to wipe out the remnants of the human race."
"And that your son, John Connor, will lead humanity in a Resistance against Skynet & defeat it once & for all", Meilin picked up. "Is that it?"
"That's about the size of it, kids", Sarah said. "And Skynet will keep sending machines back into the past to try & kill my son where he's more vulnerable until they succeed. That's why we've been on the move constantly to avoid getting spotted by these metal monsters. We can never tell either where or even when they'll show up next to go after my son."
"And so you & John came here to find a disc that has Terminator statistics & get rid of it?", asked Shaoran.
"Before it can be used by another or even downloaded, yes. We were about to embark on that particular task until we got ambushed by those two Terminators at the park where you intervened. But now, I'm starting to think maybe that's not such a bad thing."
"I don't know", Shaoran says, shaking his head. "This story is much too unbelievable for me to take in."
"No more unbelievable than yours", Sarah said, turning to Sakura. "So let me see if John & I have this straight, Sakura: there was this magic book called 'The Clow' hidden in your basement which you opened up & scattered these cards with different abilities, & upon capturing them, you went through all these tests from this Yue judge to a boy named Eriol Hiiragizawa, the latter of whom is the so-called 'reincarnation' of this Clow Reed, the same one who created that book & all the cards within."
"And Clow Reed also created both Kero and Yue as the book's guardians, yes", Sakura said. "That about sums it up, Sarah."
The Sakura Book lay on the table in the middle of the room & opened up on its own. The cards within – pink in color with a gold star emblazed on them – all exited & formed two separate rings of 26 & 27 cards around their master & circled her. Seeing this spectacle made Sarah & John's eyes go wide with undisguised astonishment: if cyborgs from the future isn't the most unusual sight either one has ever witnessed, then this definitely takes the cake.
"Wow! This is so cool!", John said with a big grin on his face.
"Simply incredible, Sakura!", Sarah said. "To think that an average 12-year-old such as you has very strong magic coursing through your body! And these cards this Clow Reed created which you had transformed into Sakura Cards – they're all alive?!"
One Sakura Card floats over to Sarah. It showed her a young lady wearing a long, poofy pink dress which resembled layered blossoms, white hair with corkscrew pigtails, pink flower earrings & bracelets, & flower patterns on her forehead & chest.
It was the Flower Card. Sarah couldn't help but smile at it.
The Flower Card rejoined the others as Sakura continued.
"As alive as you, me, or anybody else in this room, Sarah. Like you guessed, each of them has its own special ability, hence their names. Some are sweet & innocent like the Song Card, others cause mischief like the Wood Card. And though some can be somewhat silly & annoying in a playful way like the Sweet & Little Cards, there are some that are very dangerous. The Firey & Shot Cards are two examples, & can cause serious damage."
The Shot Card floats over to Sarah.
"This Shot Card – I saw you use it after you froze those Terminators at the park", Sarah said. "It really packs quite a punch."
"Yeah! The kid here can tell you all about that, can't ya?", Kero joked, looking straight at Shaoran with a laugh. Shaoran stared daggers at his direction, with Kero returning the gesture.
"Come on, you two. Now isn't the time", Tomoyo said. Grudgingly, Shaoran & Kero break it up as the Shot Card return to its brethren.
"So the big question now is, where do we go from here?", Meilin wondered.
"Only place we can go, Meilin", Sakura said, commanding her cards to return to her book which they do in a single row before it closes up. "Now that we have proof that Sarah & John's story is on the level, and that it merges with my dream from the other night, we need to go & get that disc from the Shorai No Tech Center & make sure it's completely wiped out so that no one can discover or even use what's on there. And for the sake of mankind, we dare not fail."
"You mean to say you'll help us?", a hopeful John asked.
"Were the circumstances different, we'd just as soon lock you both up & throw away the key", says Meilin, smiling. "But if there's a way to stop Judgment Day from occurring, I'd deal with the devil himself to do it. Count me in!"
Meilin winks to punctuate her answer.
"If Meilin & Sakura are both going, then so am I", Shaoran said with a smile. "What about you, Tomoyo? You in as well?"
"Anywhere that Sakura goes, I go too", she says proudly. "Even if the window of opportunity in shutting Skynet down is slim to none, it's still better than not trying at all. Kero?"
All turn to the floating guardian beast.
"Yeah right, like I'm gonna let any of you do this alone!", he says with his arms crossed. Smiles of approval come from everyone. Seeing how pertinent Sakura's group is & how it bodes well with her & John's determined spirit, Sarah couldn't be more happy or proud of these young but gallant & bold kids who were willing to go the extra mile to help put an end to the war-torn future she knows is coming.
If it works out okay, then perhaps it will never come at all.
"Thank you…all of you", Sarah said, feeling secure & more confident for the first time in a while, which seemed like forever to her & John. "I was going to ask if any of you wished to back down & not go through with this – and John & I wouldn't have blamed or held it against you if you had – but we can see you've all made up your minds about it, regardless of the dangers that will be involved."
"So now that you're all part of the team, what my mom & I have figured out on how to begin is to first…", John began to say but was interrupted by the ringing of the phone.
"Let me go answer it, John. It's probably my dad or my brother Toya", Sakura said, rising from her seat, grabbing her book & heading for the phone.
"They're no doubt worried for Sakura after hearing about what happened & want to make sure she's okay, I'm betting", Meilin said.
Sakura picked up the phone after the third ring.
"Hello?", she said.
"Sakura, it's Toya! Are you okay?!", he said, his voice filled with worry.
"Y-Yeah, I'm okay. Where are you & dad?"
"We've just arrived in Fukuoka when we heard the news of a shootout at Tomoeda Central Park by two madmen who killed several people & two cops! Are you sure you didn't get hit anywhere?"
"Not a scratch on me, I swear. And neither did any of my friends."
Toya breathed a sigh of utter relief over the phone.
"Thank goodness. Listen, Sakura: I've also learned that American fugitive Sarah Connor & her son John have been spotted in the area. If you happen to see them, do not go near either of them. They're considered extremely dangerous, having blown up Cyberdyne & killing a man there last year. Got that? Sakura?"
"Uh, yeah. Got it, Toya. Don't worry – I'll be sure to keep a sharp eye out for them."
"Good girl. Are you sure you don't want Dad & I to head back home right away? We can catch the next train back if you wish us to."
"No, Toya, that's okay. We made it back alive & in one piece, so please don't worry. I'm sure the police are searching for them even as we speak."
Toya took a few moments to let it all sink in before he finishes up.
"All right, Sakura. Just be careful if you do go out. We'll be back Sunday night, don't forget. Dad told me to say that he loves you."
"Please tell him I say the same. And Toya…I love you as well. I always have, even if you are mean to me at times. See you Sunday night. Bye."
Sakura hung up before Toya could say anything else & took a deep breath. She felt a pang of guilt about lying to him about Sarah Connor, but it couldn't have been avoided.
What was currently going on is more than her & her friends harboring & abetting two fugitives from across the pond.
Sorry, Toya, Sakura thought.
"Was that your brother on the phone, Sakura?", Sarah asked.
"Yeah", she said. "He wanted to know if I was all right. And no, I didn't tell him that…"
"It's okay, Sakura", Sarah tells her, walking up to her. "I heard what you said to him. Tell me – does he know about the Clow Cards, & that you're their new master?"
"That part he does. In fact, he's secretly known of it & the magic I possessed for a long time, & he acted like he didn't notice. Truth be told, he used to have this ability to see the spirits of the deceased, which included my mother Nadeshiko. She died when I was only three years old, & every now & then Toya & I can see her because of the magic we have. Or at least, when Toya had his power."
"You mean to say your brother Toya doesn't have that power anymore? What happened?"
"Simply put, he gave it away to save someone he cared about very much. You see…"
The doorbell at the entrance rang, putting everyone on full alert.
"Did you invite anyone over, Sakura?", Sarah asked in a low voice.
"No, Sarah", she said.
"Hello? I have a package delivery for a Fujitaka Kinomoto! Could you come & sign for it, please?", a man from behind the front door announced.
Mostly everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
"Allow me to answer it for you, Sakura. I'm closer to the door", Tomoyo said.
"Thanks, Tomoyo", she said.
Tomoyo walked over to the small hallway that lead to the front door, announcing to the delivery man that she was coming. Her foot bumped into a little object that lay on the floor, having knocked at it with her toe. Looking down, Tomoyo sees a watch & surmises that maybe Sarah or John might have dropped it when they went to take their shower earlier.
She bent down to pick it up.
What happened next froze her blood: a piece of the front door explodes with a deafening blast & puts a sizable hole in the wall behind her. Tomoyo drops to the floor on instinct & fear, crying out as the door gets kicked open by a powerful foot that belonged to one of two male figures that stood at the entrance. The first was dressed in a delivery man's outfit, complete with hat. He held a Browning Citori – a double-barreled shotgun – in his hand which smoked at the end. His partner was wearing a black business suit with shades over his eyes. In his right hand was a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.
Had Tomoyo been a split-second slower, she would be minus her head right now.
She might still be.
Terminators! They've found us!, Tomoyo thought with dread, her eyes agape with fear as Sakura calls out her name.
The one with the shotgun stepped into the house & aimed its weapon at Tomoyo, asking in a voice devoid of emotion.
"Sarah & John Connor. Where are they?"
Tomoyo couldn't answer, let alone move. Her heart shot up to her throat, disabling her ability to talk. The Terminator took another step closer.
"I will not ask again, little girl", it said. "Either you tell us now…or you die."
"Not today, she doesn't!"
From around the corner, Kero raced into the hallway & folded his wings onto himself, covering his person. A yellow glow emits from him & when he re-emerges, he's no longer the size of a half-foot creature: he grew into a large winged mountain lion with gray battle armor that covers the top of his head, upper part of his body & chest, with a red jewel placed at his head & chest. His left ear had a gray metal piercing that is also decorated with a red jewel.
Kero has transformed into Keroberos, his true form.
So fast was Keroberos' assault that the Terminator threatening Tomoyo had no chance to defend itself or even attack. He plows into the machine with his outstretched front paws & raked its shotgun, cutting it in half & decommissioning it.
"You're trespassing!", Keroberos growls, driving the Terminator outside of the house & into the empty street. The other Terminator managed to get out of the way in time to avoid the same fate as it entered, firing its weapon & spraying bullets where Tomoyo was only a second ago, being pulled away by Sakura & John.
"Where to, Sakura?", Tomoyo asked, seizing her camcorder in a rush.
"Upstairs, quick!", Sakura ordered, & the three raced up the stairs just as the cyborg pursuing them spots the trio of escapees & opens fire. The rounds miss their targets, hitting only the wall. The killer machine makes its way for the stairs. Its pursuit gets abruptly cut when a strong pair of feet strike it in the face, knocking off its shades & driving it back against the wall. Shaoran & Meilin keep up their assault on the cyborg with numerous punches & kicks to buy Sakura time to help John & Tomoyo make an escape.
They may as well be fighting with a statue: none of their hits are even starting to faze the thing, & the Terminator gets in a hit of its own by striking Shaoran with its weapon, using it like a club to knock him backwards several feet. Meilin called out his name, kicked the cyborg hard in the face once more & ran over to his rescue, scooping him up & diving into the next room when the killer cyborg fires a burst of rounds that tear up the room. It could go after & finish them off, but it turns its attention over to its primary target.
Sakura lead Tomoyo & John into her room, opening her bedroom window. John felt more than a little claustrophobic being there, as the only exit was the window, & they can hear heavy footsteps right outside her door.
The Terminator was on its way up!
"Why the hell did you take us up here, Sakura?", John wondered. "There's no way out unless we can make like birds & fly our way out!"
"That's exactly what we're going to do, John!", Sakura said, holding up two cards. The first one had a picture of a large vertically striped pink balloon attached to a basket with red-jeweled wings on its sides. The other showed a picture of a large single wing with red jewel, surrounded by strands of chains, looking like it's been caught in a spider's web almost.
"The Float & Shield Cards?", Tomoyo said.
"They'll not only get us to safety by air, but surround us with a strong barrier that bullets can't penetrate! Stand beside me, both of you!", she said, taking her wand as Tomoyo & John do as she told of them. Placing the wand at the hovering cards, Sakura calls forth on their power & the trio become engulfed in a translucent sphere of blue, white & green.
The sphere forms over the trio just as the Terminator breaks open the door & unleashes a volley of hot lead at its targets. Each round fired simply bounces off the sphere & falls to the floor, flattened into useless metal stubs. The Terminator changes tactics by placing its weapon down & charging at it, punching at the sphere with its fists. Every powerful blow the cyborg places upon its surface makes it spark & shine like mini-fireworks on the Fourth of July. But no matter how hard or desperate it tried, it wasn't getting through the strong defenses of both the Float & Shield Cards. Sakura was glad that the cards she chose were doing the trick of keeping them safe, but since the Terminator wouldn't ever stop in trying to get through to them, she wasn't taking any unnecessary risks.
It was time to go.
"Float! Shield! Take us out of here, now!", Sakura ordered. Like a giant balloon, the sphere had gotten off the floor & headed towards the wall where the window was. The killer cyborg attempted to grab it with its hands, but electrical surges struck & forced it to let go. Like a battering ram, the sphere went through the wall & left a sizable hole in it, spraying wood & glass. The Terminator reclaims its weapon & fires at the sphere, but its attempt to kill them was no different from before: with the Float & Shield Cards protecting them, the machine might as well be shooting popcorn.
Sakura, Tomoyo & John floated away unharmed.
Unfettered by its failure, the cyborg went to the edge & fired off several rounds. From behind it gets struck by strands of lightning from Shaoran's sword that had a Chinese jian parchment placed on the blade, enabling him to project the lightning where he needs to. The Terminator spasmed from the electricity being shot into it before it ceases just as soon as it began.
"Now!", Shaoran shouted as he, Meilin & Sarah all charged as one at the metal monster like a gang of runaway locomotives. In unison, they attacked the cyborg with Shaoran & Meilin delivering a powerful kick, while Sarah used her hands like living battering rams to push the Terminator out of the hole in Sakura's room, gun & all. The machine fell a single story to the ground outside with an impact that left a hole where it hit in the soft dirt. Sarah had nearly joined it, for she used a little too much momentum & couldn't stop in time, had Shaoran & Meilin not caught her in time & pulled her back in.
Rising from its bed of soil, the Terminator aimed its weapon at Sarah & fired rounds of ammo, each one missing her when she was pulled back inside before any bullet could reach her. It clicks dry on the next squeeze of the trigger, & it ejects the spent clip to put in a fresh one. Shaoran took this as his chance to catch it off-guard, jumping out of the hole straight for the cyborg, his sword pointed down. The tip of his blade was rammed into the Terminator's skull at the top & going all the way in. Since his blade was more or less a mystical one, it cut through the metal with ease as Shaoran slices the cyborg from head to stern, its body sparking before collapsing to the ground & deactivated.
Now all that was left to deal with was the second cyborg, which Keroberos is currently in locked battle with.
A slam to the pavement created yet another crater in it as Keroberos put his weight upon his foe, shaking the ground that was felt by all. The Terminator grabs the winged yellow lion by a leg & throws him off into a parked car, denting the passenger's side door & shattering the glass. It then rises off the ground, a good deal of its clothing & flesh torn away from Keroberos' savagery of his teeth & claws. A majority of its metal was visible, with only pieces of its disguise sticking on its metal frame. It didn't hinder its performance: the cyborg was still agile & powerful, rushing to Keroberos with clenched fists & throwing a right punch which hits only the door Keroberos hit as he flies upward to avoid it. The cyborg's fist goes in halfway before withdrawing it, taking the door itself as it wrenches it off, tossing it at its airborne enemy. Keroberos simply knocks it away, hitting only another vacant car.
The tactic was only a diversion: as Keroberos smacked the door away, the Terminator made a mighty leap up towards & snags him by both his hind feet, putting pressure on them. The Guardian Beast cries out in pain as the cyborg holds firm in an attempt to weigh him down or rip his legs out of their sockets.
I don't think so, fella!, Keroberos thought.
"Sorry – no hitchhikers!", he said, flying over to a brick wall & smashing his unwanted passenger into it full force. Where it hit, a cavity in the wall was formed as bricks tumbled down & buried the cyborg underneath. It didn't stay there long: rising out of the rubble, the Terminator pushed away the debris & continued after Keroberos in its relentless attempt to take him down.
Keroberos was equally determined to bring it down.
From his mouth, a powerful gout of flames erupts & engulfs the oncoming machine from head to toe. The remainder of its flesh & clothing gets burned off, revealing a glowing hot metal skeleton that even now won't slow down.
Dammit! They're just as relentless as Sarah & John described them to be!, Keroberos thought, leaving him in something of a pickle. Should he try to attack it now, he'll get singed rather badly, & he's not even sure if another blast of fire would do the job considering it still stands.
He needn't have worried: from above, a barrage of arrows strikes the glowing hot Terminator & turns it into a metal pincushion of sorts. Next, it gets hit by a large splash of water with such force that it gets knocked off its feet as steam rises, cooling it off & shattering it into many pieces. The water then retreats & forms into a large blue mermaid-like creature with large pointed ears that were webbed & resembled an elf's. Its hair was long & decorated with beads all over, & an ornament which looked like scales rested on its forehead. On its back were large wing-like fins & its mermaid tail was composed of a column of water. Floating next to it was a smallish pink girl in a bluish-purple outfit consisting of a pair of shorts, top with long back tails, long gloves & boots with the latter topped with balls on the foot. On her head was a pudding basin haircut with red circular jewel embedded in it, & pigtails held up by two round balls. In her hands was a small bow with an arrow ready to be shot if need be.
The Watery & Arrow Cards.
Suave tactic, Sakura!, Keroberos thought as he watches his new master, Tomoyo & John all float down with ease to the pavement.
"Smooth move, Sakura! Using the Watery & Arrow Cards like that!", Tomoyo said, recording the action on her camcorder.
"I'll say!", John said, still fascinated by the power the cards possess. "Using the Arrow to soften it up first before delivering the killing blow with the Watery!"
"It wouldn't have worked as well as it did if Keroberos hadn't made it super-hot first, giving me a chance for my successful countermeasure, John!", Sakura said, commanding all four of her cards – the Float, Shield, Watery & Arrow – to return to their card guise & back to her in the book. "I do hope your mom, Shaoran & Meilin are okay & accounted for!"
"You bet, Sakura!", Meilin called out as she, Shaoran & Sarah run outside to rejoin the others. When Sarah sees a large yellow mountain lion with wings coming her way, she becomes momentarily stunned by the sight.
"Oh my god! Kero…is that really you?!", she asks, being a few feet away.
"In this form, Sarah Connor, I am known as Keroberos", he says. "This is my true form, having been held in check for a time until all the elemental cards like the Watery were captured in which their powers combined enables me to be what you now see me as."
"Meaning, your true form was laid dormant until they were all caught?"
"Like a volcano. But we can dwell on that later – I suggest we clear the street of all this futuristic machinery before anyone becomes curious."
"Agreed. We can put it all where I had the Move Card take the other Terminator pieces to", said Sakura, taking out said card again.
"But Sakura…you never told us where you had those pieces moved to", Shaoran said.
"They're closer to us than you might think, Shaoran", she replied, turning to face her house as the rest follow her gaze, & they caught on.
"Sakura! You had them in your house the whole time?", asked John. "What were you thinking?!"
"Lay off, future savior!", Meilin said defensively. "It wasn't like we could've taken them to a scrap yard! Someone would've kept it for themselves & unwittingly helped to re-create this nightmare if they had!"
"Like Miles Dyson did!", Shaoran asks.
"Just like him, yes", Sarah said. "But luckily, Miles helped to atone for his sins by destroying what he'd done at Cyberdyne." She took a deep breath & exhaled. "It was just at the misfortune of it costing him his life. But that's why my son & I are here – to make sure his death isn't for nothing, & to prevent a nightmarish future that doesn't come to pass!"
"A slight change of plans, then", Sakura said, activating the Move Card as a pair of red wings form on each piece of cyborg metal & disappears. Everyone faces her, unsure of where she was going. "I do believe there may be a way to kill two birds with one stone."
"You mean, make a simultaneous attack?", asked Tomoyo.
"Something like that, yes. First, we let the Move Card gather all the Terminator pieces with the rest in my basement before I deal with it all using the Erase Card."
"And after that?", asked John. "Then what?"
"I'll explain that when we get to Tsukimine Shrine."
Sakura said nothing else on the matter.
Tsukimine Shrine, 6:30 p.m.:
Once all the pieces were gathered in Sakura's basement, she uses the Erase Card – a small female elf dressed in a yellow & white patterned court jester's outfit, with wide pointed sleeve cuffs, large neck ruff, tall hat with long twin trails & cape – to simply 'erase' every trace of Terminator metal that also includes the metal skull Shaoran severed from one of the cyborgs at the park. The scenario was not dissimilar from when Sakura did the same to a bunch of plush sheep while down a mystical hole underneath the famed Penguin Slide, only here she was glad not to be under the metal she'd make disappear, as it would've crushed her even more effectively than the sheep tried to.
Completing the task, Sakura, Sarah & the rest started making their way over to Tsukimine Shrine, going on foot & being careful not to get spotted by any police along the way. They wish to avoid the authorities as much as possible, for any interference by them is sure to impede their progress & they'd been running into enough of it already by a quartet of Terminators which have tracked them to Japan where their current mission has lead them.
No one could tell what was going on at the Shorai No Tech Center at this point, so they hurry & get to the shrine in good time.
Once they get there, Sakura fills them in on what she has in mind as they make their way over to a large cherry tree with parchments wrapped around its thick trunk & white fence around its base.
Hearing her plan made Shaoran & even Kero (back in his small form) not too thrilled of the idea.
"I really don't know about you doing this, Sakura", Kero said.
"It makes perfect sense, Kero", she said. "While you guys head over to the Shorai No Tech Center, I'll be in the future to try & place a crippling hurt on Skynet or even bring it down completely. By hitting it on both fronts in the present and future, the odds of the human race's survival will increase on an exponential level. What's more, no new Terminators will get sent back through time."
"But Sakura…what you're planning could be even more dangerous than waiting for Terminators to show up to try & kill Sarah & John, or even us!", Meilin says.
"Meilin's right, Sakura", Tomoyo adds. "Going to the future…you don't know what you'll be running into once you get there! It's too dangerous to attempt!"
"It's dangerous no matter how we look at it or what we attempt, Tomoyo – be it in the future or here", Sakura reminds her. "It's the best solution I can come up with, so we should at least try it."
"But Sakura, in the two times you used this tree, you only went back in time", Shaoran said. "And you had the Return Card with you. I'm not so sure about going forward in time – it's never been tried before! What if something goes wrong, & you get trapped?"
"It's a risk I'll have to take. And I won't be using the Return Card, Shaoran – I'll be using the Time card instead."
"The Time Card?!", Shaoran, Kero, Tomoyo & Meilin said as one, astonished.
"What's the Time Card? Is that like a time machine of some kind?", John asked.
"Not really, John", Kero said. "The Time Card has the ability to actually stop the flow of time, but being one of the most powerful of all the cards, it requires a great amount of magical energy to even activate. Like the kid said before, an attempt to go forward in time had never been done, & that's why we're not too crazy about this scheme of hers."
"I have to agree with Kero on this, Sakura", Shaoran says. "Even though you are the new master of the cards, you still may not have the energy needed to use Time."
"I may not have to, Shaoran", Sakura said. "This cherry tree holds a great deal of magical power itself. It's why we came here in the first place: by having it assist me, I can use the power of Time to aide me in getting to the desired year I wish without losing too much of my own."
Going into her book, Sakura takes out a card with the picture of a robed old man with a long beard & pointed ears, holding a large hourglass. She also takes out the Shield & Shot Cards along with a fourth one: this one held a picture of a giant white bird with long serpentine neck & short beak, like a cockatiel's.
The Fly Card, one of Sakura's most trusted & used cards of the whole deck.
Closing her book, she walks over to Shaoran.
"Here", she says, handing him the pink book. "Until we meet again in the future, I'm leaving you with my book in your care. In your care, Shaoran. Keep it safe for me?"
"I will", he said, placing the book in his backpack. "Until we meet in the future…2029, is it?"
Shaoran turns to Sarah for a confirmed answer, & she nods.
"That's the year Kyle Reese told me he arrived in 1984 from", she said.
"I'm off now", Sakura said, turning to the tree & getting her wand & the Time Card ready. "Be sure that disc gets destroyed, & its contents aren't downloaded anywhere else. Wish me luck."
"One moment, Sakura."
She turns to see Shaoran approach & lands a passionate kiss upon her lips. Sakura returns the gesture, & they wrap their arms around each other in a lover's stance for several moments.
Sarah, John, Meilin, Tomoyo & Kero all watch as they share their tender moment together. The first four were filled with a warm feeling inside their hearts & smile, seeing the romance blossoming between them even at a crucial time. Tomoyo records the moment with her camcorder: no way was she going to miss this.
Kero was another story!
She's actually kissing the kid! Holy shit!, Kero thought, his eyes agape with disbelief.
"Sakura", Shaoran said once the moment was over. "Promise us that you'll return safely."
"Don't worry, Shaoran, everyone", Sakura says, standing next to the tree. "I'll be back. I promise."
Her Star Wand & the Time Card in hand, Sakura activates the latter just as the cherry tree lights up like a bulb & levitates Sakura three feet off the ground before bringing her closer & closer until she actually gets sucked into its thick trunk, disappearing from sight in seconds.
Once she was gone from sight, the tree's glow fades & the group was down to only six.
"And off she goes", John said softly.
"We should be off ourselves", Sarah said. "That little light show may have attracted unwanted attention, & we ought to be gone before it arrives."
"You're right, Sarah. Sakura has her chore, & we have ours", Meilin said. "Let's move."
"Better get into my backpack & out of sight, Kero", Tomoya said, placing her camcorder inside. The little yellow beast does as she suggests without a word. As soon as he's in, she puts it on & the group takes off & heads for the opposite entrance when two figures appear from twenty feet away. Their hearts started racing when they saw it was a pair of persons they all wished to avoid running into.
Oh shit!, Sarah said to herself. The eyes of the cops widen when they see their faces, the woman & one of the boys in particular.
"Back! Go back!", she tells the others, & they all make a mad dash back into the shrine.
"Hey! You all come back here!", one of the cops shouted as they both follow in pursuit, getting on the radio.
"Dammit! This is what we didn't want! Now what do we do?!", asked John.
"Our best chance is to split up!", Sarah said. "Whoever's able to, we'll get back to Sakura's house! Ready?"
Sarah's idea was stopped dead when a multitude of cops were waiting for them at the entrance where they arrived at, causing them to come at a halt just as dead as her plan of separate & regroup. From every angle, cops swarmed in with their guns drawn at the quintet, frantically searching for a way out.
They find none.
Shaoran had a look in his eyes that spoke of drawing his sword & using the powers of the wind to drive the cops away, but Meilin shook her head.
"No, Shaoran. Don't", she pleaded.
"Listen to her, Shaoran. Please don't. They'll kill you if they must", Sarah added.
The cop with the bullhorn spoke into it.
"Sarah & John Connor, you & your accomplices put your hands in the air & make like statues! Now!"
Caught red-handed, the Connors do as told, as do Tomoyo & Meilin.
"That goes for you too, son! Raise 'em!", the cop said to Shaoran.
Scowling, Shaoran raises his hands in surrender.
With some officers aiming their guns, others take out handcuffs & place the quintet under arrest.
Kero stayed inside Tomoyo's backpack the whole time, being like a statue himself.
He knows they were all headed to jail.
With bigger trouble undoubtedly on the way.
Tokyo, Japan, 2029:
All that Sakura could see where she looked since entering the cherry tree was bright white all around her – left to right, top to bottom, front to back & everywhere else in between. She was totally surrounded by it. Even closing her eyes didn't help much, & she couldn't tell if she was going up, down, forward, backward or whatever. All she can tell is that she was in a daze by moving so fast, & yet going nowhere at the same time.
She also knew of when she was heading for, or rather, the Time Card did. With guidance & extra assistance from the powers of the cherry tree, it leads its master to her desired destination: about 30 or so years into the planet's future to try & stop Skynet then & attempt to prevent it from sending any more Terminators back into the past to try & alter it like it's done previously, beginning with the one it's sent to the year 1984, where Sarah Connor was still just a diner waitress & John not even born yet.
If she could somehow prevent that one simple task in the future, then the horror of the machines may never have a chance to happen.
To Sakura, it sounds simple enough.
Of course, sounding simple is not the same as making it that way.
Finally, what felt like hours or longer but was actually only a few minutes, she gets gently ejected from the tree & her vision of white slowly fades away as she gets placed down to the ground a few feet away. The Time Card floats back into her backpack to rejoin the few other cards she came with.
The ground felt cold & lumpy as Sakura's vision started getting more clearer by the second. The brightness of the tree dies & goes dormant, having done its job. Sakura's eyes adjust to the sudden change, & with the help of her Star Wand, she gives her eyes a quick rub & rises up off the ground to survey her surroundings.
What she bore witness to made her gasp, becoming absolutely horrified at what she sees.
It was the city of Tokyo, but instead of a thriving major metropolitan area, it was all leveled to a barren wasteland full of rubble, demolished vehicles – some with human skeletons in them – and a basalt sky overhead with clouds thicker than any she'd ever seen. Sakura looked around to see if she saw anything that remained the same since before she arrived from the past. The only thing that did was the cherry tree she used for her time trip when she left her friends at the shrine. Seeing her horrid surroundings, Sakura feels like she's landed on another planet rather than travel to Earth's future.
Her uneasy steps & the ground itself nearly caused her to lose her balance.
Looking down, she bent & picked up what she can now perceive as something other than rock, & she discovers just why the ground was so lumpy & uneven.
She was holding part of a human skull in her hand, minus its lower jaw!
Repulsed, Sakura gasps in horror & drops it like a hot potato. The skull landed with a clank.
Is this Earth in the future?! Is this what will become of us?!, Sakura thought with dread.
A frigid breeze blows through the air, kicking up clouds of dust, & Sakura realizes for the first time since her arrival of how freezing she is. Before, the shock of seeing what was left of Japan's Capital City in its condition made her numb & oblivious to the weather. But now that it's worn off, it hits her with a vengeance, & Sakura feels like she'd taken a trip to the North/South Pole, or even Siberia in winter.
Sakura crouches to the ground & hugs herself to keep warm as the cold hits her like a cracking whip, her breath becoming visible. Having no idea of what the weather would be like if Judgment Day wasn't stopped, she never thought of bringing with her an extra set of clothing. She doubt even Sarah or John would've known: they just know of the future that Kyle Reese had explained the former during their time together in 1984. She probably was never told of how cold it'd be, & that caught Sakura by surprise, going from the sultry summer to the frigid climate she was now in; she was so cold, she might as well be naked despite what she currently had on.
From her backpack, the Shield Card sensed its master in trouble & floated in front of her. Sakura looked up & nodded, proud to have brought it. While it isn't clothing, the Shield Card can still provide her protection from the frigid climate notwithstanding. Braving the cold, Sakura raises her arm which held her Star Wand & points it at Shield, calling its name in barely a breath. Once she does, the card lights up & surrounds her in a round translucent dome, the effects becoming immediate. From within her protective bubble, the temperature turns much warmer & Sakura can stand up with no trouble as she savors the heat.
"Thank you", she said in a voice as warm as the air in her dome with a small smile. She can sense Shield accepting her gratitude.
Her joy was cut short when she heard the sound of giant treads crushing the ground underneath. When she looked over to her right, Sakura was staring at a pair of large vertical machines between 20-30 feet in height, with stubs of arms which held twin gun cannons that swiveled around. Their treads crushed the remnants of human skulls like they were nothing more than cheap souvenirs. A horizontal row of lights at their tops shone bright.
Sooner or later, they were going to spot Sakura, & she wanted to be far away from their vicinity as possible before they do.
Commanding her cards, Sakura calls forth the Fly Card & activates it with her wand. A pair of large angel wings grow onto her back, & Sakura took to the air with her protective dome the Shield Card staying right with her.
No sooner did she take off into the sky than when the large ground machines – the HK-Tanks – had her in their sights & opened fire. Bolts of blue energy whizzed past Sakura & struck open ground, putting holes into whatever they touched. Sakura was putting much distance between her & her non-human attackers, the sounds of laser fire becoming fainter.
That was a bit too close!, Sakura thought & slowed once she heard no more sounds of firing from the two deadly machines.
She spoke too soon: she may have successfully eluded the HK-Tanks, but now she was faced with their brethren – the HK-Aerials.
Five were closing in on her position fast, shining their lights. When she was visible in the glow, they too started firing at Sakura, barely missing her by a fraction of an inch. Making a speedy retreat, Sakura flies off with the quintet of HK-Aerials in hot pursuit. They resume firing upon her as Sakura draws up the Shot Card & activating it. In its true form, the Shot Card flies after the quintet of Aerial HKs & launches a volley of energy shots from its arms. Of all the shots it's fired, only one of the Aerial HKs gets struck badly & goes down in a ball of flames while the other four split up to avoid the first one's fate.
Changing tactics, the Shot Card flies in closer & strikes when it's basically right next to another HK, putting worse damage to its hull & causing a chain reaction that destroys it from within as sparks erupt before it plummets to the ground & exploding into scrap when it hits.
A third HK gets struck by the Shot Card in one of its engine turbines, causing its flight to go on a wobble before losing its balance completely & crashing into one of its two companions left. The result was an airborne explosion that totals both, & now leaving only one left.
By now, the two HK-Tanks have caught up with Sakura & commence firing from their cannons on both turrets. Sakura does some fancy flying of her own to dodge the shots. Although some strike, the Shield Card prevents any from making contact with her directly. The same could not be said of the Shot Card: the last Aerial HK scored a direct hit on it, & the Shot Card made a hard nose dive for the ground before slamming onto the remains of a car with a skeletal driver at the wheel.
"NO! Shot Card…return!", Sakura shouted. Albeit groggily, the Shot Card transforms back into a card & swiftly glides over to its master, going through the dome the Shield Card put up & into Sakura's backpack. At that point, both Aerial & Tank HKs converge upon her & rain down laser fire on her dome, striking fiercely at both ends. While the dome holds up under the deadly barrage, Sakura can feel the Shield Card getting weak & tired under the duress. Unless she does something, Sakura will be back to having 52 cards in her deck again.
But with only four cards in her current possession, there wasn't much she can do: Shield was losing its durability, Time takes too much energy to use, Shot is wounded & needs to recuperate, & the Fly Card is being used to keep her agile for a quick getaway when need be.
A second after the call was made, the left turbine engine of the Aerial HK was blown apart by a gout of fire, sending it out of control. Sakura did what was requested of her & got to a safe distance as she witnessed the HK making a nose dive of its own & crashing into the HK-Tank with a metal-twisting screech. A moment later, she saw flames being sprouted from out of the mouth of a large yellow lion with wings like hers, striking the fuselage & causing both vehicles to explode in a hail of scrap metal.
When the remnants of the HKs went away, Sakura saw a most welcome sight since arriving in the future.
"Keroberos!", she said with a smile. The winged guardian beast flew over to her & landed next to her on all fours. He was still the same as she last saw him, with armor for his head & chest. On his back was a satchel in which was carried by his tail, its end curved like a monkey's around the strap.
"Hello again, Sakura", Keroberos said. "I see you were quite successful in going forward in time with the Time Card. I hope your trip getting here wasn't too much of a strain on your person."
"Not half as bad as I first thought, actually", she replied. "Especially considering I've never used it like that before."
"Hmm. It seems there are things about the Clow Cards even I never thought capable of. But we can sort it out later: no doubt more machines are on their way to our position even now, & they'll be here in greater numbers."
"Then let's get back to your base of operations, Keroberos. We'll figure out what to do when we get there."
"Before we do that…", Keroberos said, flinging Sakura the satchel his tail held. She catches it with ease & looks inside: it was a bundle of clothing.
"I thought you might want a change of clothes more suited for this cold than what you have on when you left us all those years ago", he went on. "It's one of several costumes I was able to save after the bombs fell."
Nodding, Sakura put the clothing on in a rush, not even bothering to remove her current clothes. It turned out to be the same outfit she wore during the Final Judgment, consisting of the white body suit & gloves, long purple socks, pink pants, cape & top, white & pink shoes & yellow-orange bow with long tails that ended in fluff balls. Sakura put the clothes on in record time, & every piece she put on made her warmer than she was upon her arrival. No longer worried about the cold since she dressed for it, Sakura orders the Shield Card to withdraw. Within seconds, the bubble surrounding her vanished & the Shield Card retreated into her backpack.
"Thanks, Keroberos. That feels so much better", she says.
"It looks much better too", he replied. "Now let's head back to base."
Nodding, Sakura & Keroberos spreads their wings & take to the air.
During their flight, Sakura looked over the ravaged city of Tokyo which resembles more like an overgrown junkyard of death. She still can't actually believe that this is what remains of her home: the last several minutes she was with Sarah & John Connor, Meilin, Tomoyo, Shaoran and Kero over at the shrine. The next thing she knew she's arrived in a post-apocalyptic world where there's hardly a living soul out: no children playing in parks, no schools in session, no adults going shopping for food, clothing or other materials in their daily lives, no anything.
She felt like a total stranger in a city she's lived in all her life.
"Remember, let's keep to about 10-15 feet to the ground", Keroberos instructs her. "This way, there's less chance of any HKs – ground or aerial units – picking us up on their scanners."
"I guess Judgment Day wasn't prevented after all", she says solemnly.
"No, it wasn't…much to our dismay", Keroberos says. "Even the power Eriol Hiiragizawa & his two companions had in their possession wasn't nearly enough to prevent that global a catastrophe."
At the mention of Eriol's name, Sakura snapped her head up in full alert.
"Eriol?", she asks, turning to him. "Is he all right? And what about Tomoyo, Shaoran, Sarah & all the rest? Are they okay? Please tell me, Keroberos! I have to know!"
"Why don't we head over at our HQ first?", the Guardian Beast said. "We'll explain what we can once we're there. Besides, John Connor will be happy to see you again, just as I am."
"John Connor is here?"
That brought a spark of hope to Sakura's heart amid the ruins of Tokyo.
So he did survive Judgment Day!, she thought gladly. Now he's leading humanity to victory over the machines like Sarah mentioned!
She picked up her pace, eager to see him again.
Five minutes later:
Sakura & Keroberos descended on a deserted stretch of street, which was now covered with gravel & weeds poking through cracks in many places. Going the rest of the way on foot, Sakura notices groups of people dressed in ragged clothing cuddled together near fires they created in an effort to keep warm in the frigid climate. Each group gives Sakura & Keroberos a quick glance as they pass them by, & yet not one person shows even the slightest sign of amazement or trepidation. It's as if they were all used to seeing a large yellow mountain lion with wings.
It was very strange to Sakura.
"They don't seem to be either concerned or even afraid of you at all, Keroberos", she said.
"That's because these poor souls have worse things to be afraid of than of me, Sakura", he tells her. "Much worse things."
Walking past the plethora of the homeless (& scared), Sakura & Keroberos continue on down the stretch of ruined pavement for about six more minutes until the Guardian Beast announced 'We are here'. Sakura takes her gaze off from other people they came upon to that of a building with its entire top part completely gone, like it was ripped right off. It was hard to tell how many stories it was before losing its upper half. The lower floor was mostly not there – only pieces of the wall still remained. But in spite of its near-demolishment, the place strangely looked & felt familiar to Sakura.
"Keroberos, I…I think I know this place!", Sakura says.
"As well as you should, Sakura", he answered. "This building was once Tomoeda Elementary – your old school."
Sakura froze in place which had nothing to do with the weather, but from the realization of what her guardian & friend told her. She stood like a statue at the place where she attended to on a regular daily basis, meeting her good friends Tomoyo Daidouji, Rika Sasaki, & so many other people that felt so important to her, sharing wonderful memories with them.
That's just what Tomoeda Elementary School is now – a memory.
And not a very wonderful one at that.
"Let's get inside, Sakura. John Connor is waiting for us", Keroberos announced, snapping Sakura back to the here & now. The Guardian Beast takes point with Sakura following him, entering through a secret passageway & going down a stairway that descends into the school's basement with a thick metal door at the end of a corridor. Sakura's wings disappear from her back as Keroberos knocks on the door thrice with a clawed front paw, & a rectangular panel slides open, revealing a guard with a rifle. Keroberos was unfazed in the gesture, nor does he even flinch.
"Keroberos?", said the guard.
"Greetings, soldier. Care to let us in?", says Keroberos.
Lowering his rifle, the soldier closes the panel & opens the door to allow him & Sakura entry.
"Sorry about that, Keroberos", the soldier said. "Although you ought to let us know it's you. That mug of yours is bound to give someone here an ulcer one of these days & shoot you by accident."
Keroberos chuckles at the thought.
"I'll try to remember that", he says, turning to Sakura. "Please let John Connor know that I've brought back a guest for us – a very special guest."
"No need for that, Keroberos", said a well-built man with a head of spiked brown hair, & a trio of scars which runs down the left side of his face. "I'm right here."
He kneels down in front of Sakura.
"Hello, Sakura. Long time no see", he says with a smile.
Sakura stared at the man who stared back. Even though he was much older, she could still make out the young boy she & her friends came across at Central Park years ago. When she looks over at his name tag, she was still in awe.
Sakura really was looking at John Connor – the prophesized leader of the Human Resistance!
"John Connor?", she asked. When John nodded, Sakura embraced him in a bearlike hug as John did the same. Keroberos & the soldier at the door smiled at the reunion.
"It's so incredible!", Sakura says, breaking away & wiping a tear from her eye. "The last time I saw you, you were just my age only about thirty minutes ago!"
Connor grinned & chuckled slightly.
"Thirty minutes for you, perhaps!", he said. "But it was over thirty years for me!"
Sakura couldn't conceal a slight laugh from John's little joke.
"Either way, young or old, it's so good to see you again!", she says. Connor grins wide.
"Hey Sakura – don't we get hugs too?", said a voice to her right. She saw a pair of men walk in from a darkened portion of the room. Coming into the light, she saw one dressed in a soldier's outfit & had a head of spiked brown hair, similar to John's own. In his hand was a pair of leashes that held two large dogs at the end of them. The other one didn't wear a soldier's outfit: he was attired in some sort of lime green ceremonial robes with brown stripes at the edges, yellow underside, soiled white pants & lime green top which covered most of his brown hair. A sword rested upon his pelt, & symbols that looked more Chinese than Japanese were embedded on his robe's front, followed by a black crescent moon on his back.
Even if they are adults, Sakura could easily recognize who they were: their clothing & faces were dead giveaways.
"Yamazaki? Shaoran? It that really you?!", she asks, her eyes agape.
"What do you think, Sakura?", they asked together.
Her instincts proved to be correct: tears started flowing from her eyes, & Sakura ran towards & embraced them in the same way she did Connor. Both men returned the favor & hugged her back as Yamazaki released his leashes to allow the dogs to roam free.
"It's good to know you both survived Judgment Day", said Sakura, wiping her tears away.
"It was a very rough road when the bombs fell, but we did", Yamazaki said. Shaoran nodded.
"Oh Sakura – I have something that belongs to you", Shaoran said, going into his robes. He pulls out a pink book with her name on the front.
It was her Clow Book, looking exactly the same as when she handed it to him decades ago.
"Just like we promised", Shaoran says, handing it back to her. Sakura nodded her thanks.
"Say, what about the others – Rika, Chiharu, Naoko, Tomoyo & Meilin? Are they all okay?"
Solemn faces appear on Yamazaki & Shaoran as they bow their heads slightly. It immediately told Sakura that something wasn't right.
"What is it? Why aren't they here?", she asked, fearing the answer.
It was Yamazaki who explains after taking a deep breath.
"During a run they were making to gather essential supplies with our school teacher Mr. Terada, they were all ambushed by Terminators & opened fire on the group. Rika, Chiharu, Naoko & Tomoyo each went down instantly. They never stood a chance."
A tear runs down Yamazaki's cheek at the painful memory.
"And Meilin & Mr. Terada?", Sakura asks.
This time it was Shaoran who let her know the bottom line.
"They went down shortly after – but not before putting up a fierce fight with the machines first. A similar thing happened with your dad & older brother: a safe haven for human prisoners they'd both rescued was attacked by Skynet's forces & destroyed beyond all hopes of repair. Your father & Toya held off the Terminators & HKs long enough for the people they rescued a chance to flee safely, which they did."
"And my dad & Toya?"
"They were…fiercely heroic, right to the very end."
That made Sakura's heart stop beating for a moment. Hearing upon the gruesome deaths of all those she loved – from her schoolmates to her own family – put her in a state of suspended animation, her ears refusing to believe what was relayed to her. And while Yamazaki always had a reputation for telling silly lies during his school days, she could tell that they were long over now.
No way was he lying to her about her friends any more than Shaoran was about her family.
It was too much for her: Sakura's tears started flowing afresh, & she turned & headed down the room to cry out her sorrow, book & all. Yamazaki & Shaoran wanted to go over & comfort her, but was politely stopped by the guard at the door.
"It's okay, fellas. I can handle things from here with her", he said kindly. Both men nodded while Yamazaki went to gather up the dogs.
The soldier walked over to Sakura, who sat down against a wall & buried her head in her arms & knees, crying. He sat down next to her as she cried for a couple minutes, his hand kindly caressing her back while she lets it out.
"Believe me, Sakura, I know exactly how you feel", he said once her crying softened, & she looked up to get a good look at him. He had a scruff of brown hair like Connor did, only it wasn't spiked at the top. It was more stylish, with his bangs split to either side. He had blue eyes, & a scar on his lower lip on the left side.
"I had my share of tragic losses – friends & family alike", he went on. "Truth be told, I don't think I ever remembermy parents, having lost them when I was very young. For many years, I traveled alone in the world with a mute girl named Star as my only companion. Her instinct of sensing danger nearby helped us both to stay alive, even when we were once captured by a Skynet facility camp where they brought human prisoners at. And this…" The soldier pulled back his sleeve to reveal a red bar code on his forearm & showed it to Sakura.
"The Terminators…they brand you?", she asked.
"By laser scan", he continued, pulling his sleeve up. "At these facilities, they keep some of us alive to work, loading dead bodies & other horrible assignments. They make you work day & night until you no longer can, & then it's you that gets loaded & disposed of like they were taking out the trash. We were on the brink of going out, Sakura – until he showed up."
"John Connor turned things around", she said, not a question.
"Did he ever. He rescued us from the camps, taught us how to fight, how to ambush our enemies & smash those metal motherfuckers into heaps of worthless scrap. He brought us back from the edge & saved us, Sakura. I'd die for John Connor. That's why I came with him here, to Tokyo, on our current mission."
"What mission is that?"
"Two weeks ago, our people in Los Angeles picked up a distress call from this area pleading for our help, John Connor's in particular. In fact, it was Takashi Yamazaki himself who put that call out to us. He & his squadron were under heavy assault by Skynet's forces & were almost overrun. When we showed up, we helped turn the tide & drove most of them away, thanks to Connor's skills. And having a winged mountain lion on our side that can spit fire from his mouth doesn't hurt either."
The soldier winked at Sakura on that last statement, making her smile. He grins himself just as said 'winged mountain lion' walks over to them.
"It's always nice to see you smile, Sakura. Even in the most dismal of times", Keroberos said. "It's one of the many things I love about you."
"Thank you, Keroberos. At a time like this, I need to hear that", Sakura said, turning back to the soldier. "So…what can I call you, soldier?"
"Name's Kyle. Kyle Reese", he said.
John Connor's father-to-be & the one who traveled back in time to protect Sarah from the first Terminator!, Sakura thought with recognition.
"Is something wrong, Sakura?", Kyle asked, noticing the look on her face. "You look as if you've seen me somewhere before but can't recall when."
"No, I…I just heard a good deal about you from someplace, that's all", she said.
Kyle & Keroberos stare at each other with smiles, amused by her.
"Quite the curious friend you have here, Keroberos", Kyle said.
"And quite intelligent too, Kyle Reese", Keroberos says proudly. "I always said that she was wise beyond her years. John's mother Sarah said the same thing, more than once."
Hearing Sarah's name mentioned gave Sakura a grim reminder.
"I almost forgot, Keroberos – where is Sarah anyway?", she asked, mentally kicking herself for not asking sooner. "And what about Eriol? Or even Yue, for that matter? I don't see them anywhere! Do you know where they are, or what happened to them?"
Keroberos hung his head, took a deep breath & exhaled it before lifting it up & telling her.
"Last things first, Sakura", he starts. "Eriol & his two companions Ruby Moon & Spinel Sun, along with Yue himself, disappeared many years ago. I've not heard or seen any sign of them since. As for Sarah Connor…she died many years ago, long before the bombs even fell. Leukemia was the cause for her death: she'd been diagnosed while she & John were in Baja. The doctors gave her six months to live, but she fought for three times longer, equaling two years. When she died in late August 1997, her friends cremated her in Mexico & they scattered her ashes out into the sea. Sarah kept fighting just long enough to make sure."
"Make sure what?", Sakura asked.
"That the world didn't end", Kyle said. "But John never really believed that. I guess Sarah didn't either."
Sakura felt like she was made of metal, & sank with despair. When she left to head for the future, it was the year 1996, a year after the Connor's raid on Cyberdyne. Now, she just learned that Sarah has been diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer even before she met her, & that she'll die within the next year once she makes it back to the past.
If she even makesit back.
"Sarah", Sakura says softly, her voice barely above a whisper. Looking around, she sees soldiers & regular people scattered & huddled close in a world blown to hell, making the best of it. Sakura could scarcely believe the reality of it all: machines that have become sentient & choose to rise against their one-time masters in a war to all but wipe them off the face of the planet, proclaiming their superiority over the human race, all caused by a computer that humans decided to trust & run it all for them.
When one thinks about it, humans themselves are to blame for the war against the machines: a machine is to be used by people, not the other way around, much less wage war on them.
Sakura didn't know who to place the blame fully at: Skynet, for trying to wipe out the human race during its first strike with the world's nuclear arsenal & then employing the Terminators, HKs & other forms of killer machines to finish the job, or at the higher-ups for creating Skynet in the first place & then allowing it to make the decisions for them, removing human thinking completely.
Now, because of some people's arrogance, this is what life on Earth is like on a global scale.
It was a war that never should've happened in the first place, & those responsible for Skynet had undoubtedly paid the ultimate price.
Not to mention the lives of billions of others at their expense, including innocent women & children who were no doubt asleep in their beds when the bombs fell.
That's more than just global genocide. That's just downright evil.
Sakura felt like bursting out crying again, but she held it in check. It was war, & she learned that in war, you have to expect casualties.
But no one ever said that you had to like it.
"Do either of you have anything of Sarah's to remember her by?", she asked. "Any mementos?"
"I did have a picture of her once that John gave to me, but it got burned up & lost during a brutal firefight back in L.A.", Kyle said. "Other than that, there's really nothing else. Sorry, I wish I could say that there was."
Sakura sighed softly, but her train of thought was interrupted when the dogs Yamazaki held had begun barking like crazy, putting everyone on full alert.
"What's going on, Kyle? Why are the dogs barking like that?", Sakura asked, getting her book & staff as she rose.
"We train them to sniff out the enemy, Sakura!", Kyle said, hefting his rifle as he got up himself.
"That's right!", Keroberos says, addressing the crowd. "Look alive, everyone! We're about to have company!"
Everyone closest to the door backed away from it, & Connor, Yamazaki, Shaoran & all those with rifles aimed them, ready to shoot at the first sign of the metal enemies that came through. No sooner did they clear the door than when it was suddenly pushed open by a pair of powerful arms, covered in cloned flesh. Blasts of blue laser fire erupted once it was clear.
They've found us!, Shaoran said to himself, armed with his sword & Chinese jian parchments.
Sakura watched behind Keroberos & Kyle Reese as multiple metal skeletons & one that's covered in flesh emerged from where the door was.
Her heart raced to her throat.
The Terminators have arrived.
And they weren't taking prisoners.
Tokyo Police Headquarters, 1996, 7:30 p.m.:
Sarah, John, Shaoran, Meilin & Tomoyo were all cuffed & taken into custody, the former two under guard by a pair of officers, knowing they'd be the most dangerous of them all. Upon arrival, they were fingerprinted & placed in a holding room, all handcuffed to the seat by a wrist. Having been kept in the room for almost an hour, it felt much longer to the quintet.
Being at the police station can have that effect, whether you're a suspect or a witness coming to testify or report on a crime.
They were starting to get worried: sans Sarah, none of the kids, not even John, have ever been arrested in their lives. It was something that Mr. Wei & Tomoyo's mother was going to have a field day with once they hear upon their predicament.
That's something they were not looking forward to, let alone something far worse than scolding by elders.
"This is bullshit!", Meilin snaps. "Just how long can they even keep us in here for?!"
"For as long as they want, Meilin", Shaoran said. "Time has no real meaning for felons."
"But we're not felons! We're trying to prevent the end of the world, for Christ's sake!"
"That won't go over well with the officers, Meilin", Tomoyo adds. "From what Sarah had told us, those down at the West Highland Police Station after they brought in her & Kyle Reese, they all had an extremely difficult time swallowing Reese's story, thinking he was a loon. You really believe it'll be any different here if we explained it to them?"
"And that's what worries me, Tomoyo", Shaoran said. "Since they know who Sarah & John are & have fingerprinted them as they did us, they'll no doubt have tracked them here to this location. I fear it's going to get real ugly at this station very soon."
"That's just what's been worrying us, Shaoran", Sarah says. "By bringing us here, they're dooming themselves to an early grave. Even now, 12 years later, I can still hear the dying screams of all those officers that first Terminator was shooting at. These were grown, highly trained cops I was in protective custody with, & yet they were crying for help & begging for God's mercy as it hunted down & killed 17 of them without either. I for one don't enjoy being in police custody, granted, but these people are only doing their jobs, nothing more."
"And they won't have any idea of what they'll be up against once they do arrive", John adds. "After all, only one Terminator was capable of taking down a whole precinct by itself. What do you think will happen if more than that show up? We need to split before they arrive!"
"Well, if you have any bright ideas on how to do that, future savior, don't be shy about them!", Meilin said. John stared at her, but didn't say anything.
"At least they didn't get Sakura", Tomoyo adds. "Then again, that's a small favor, since they've seized the cards…and Kero."
"Don't worry, Tomoyo", Shaoran said. "As far as they're concerned, Kero's just a stuffed animal, & there's no way they'll be able to figure out the cards' true potential, much less activate them."
"You mean only Sakura herself can make them work?", Sarah asked.
"Since she's their new master, yes. They'll only work for her & her alone. Even Kero couldn't make them any more than I can."
"Speaking of that stuffed toy, if Kero's got any good sense, he'll come out of hiding, transform & help us get out of this fix we're in!", Meilin said. "How come he didn't help us at the shrine anyhow?"
"Because Meilin, Kero's not that reckless", Tomoyo explains. "To have him show himself in either of his forms, especially in front of the cops, will bring up too many questions that we can't answer."
"Then what are we going to…", John started to say but a clang at the door made them all fall silent as it opens up to reveal a half-dozen cops, five of whom enter the holding pen to remove the cuffs off from the chair & onto the wrists, their arms held out in front.
"All right, you five…this way", said the cop standing outside the pen, a cop by the name of Kojiro Wakasuki. With him in front, he leads his captives over to the main office where several more officers were waiting at. Placing them down on a bench that was equal to the one in the pen, Kojiro's officers remove a cuff from one wrist & secure it on a ring, keeping them stuck.
His five escorts take off, leaving Kojiro with the quintet of suspects.
"Well, this must be out lucky day", he begins, standing over them. "Sarah & John Connor…the most notorious mother & son duo since Sante & Kenneth Kimes. You two have made quite a name for yourselves: escaping from Pescadero State Hospital, car theft, murder of an employee at Cyberdyne & blowing the building itself up, wounding several SWAT officers, hijacking one of their vehicles, & that's not even the worst of it! You actually join forces with a known cop-killer…the same individual who cold-bloodedly murdered seventeen police officers 11 years previous! Am I leaving anything out?"
Sarah & John just stare hard at him as Kojiro turns to the latter.
"And you…John. I understood that you've had a number of falling outs with your foster parents Todd & Janelle Voight, but did you honestly hate them that much to actually have them murdered? I'd say that's rather extreme, don't you think?"
When John doesn't say a word, Kojiro presses him.
"You have anything to say about all this, either of you? I'm all ears."
Finally, John was the first to crack.
"Look, officer, my foster parents were a bunch of dicks, but you gotta believe me: I was not the one who killed them, honest!", he pleads. "In fact, I was about to warn them about the real killer, but he got to them first! Hell, I wasn't even home when they were killed!"
"And that 'real killer' was who?", Kojiro asked.
"There was this maniacal cop! He's the one who killed my foster parents, not me! After he killed them, he went after me & nearly succeeded in doing the same! I'm totally innocent on that!"
"But not on the other charges against you & your mother, little man!"
"Listen real good, officer!", Sarah said forcefully. "Both my son & I are targets for some very bad people! For a long time, they've tried to kill us: first me, then my son! And they won't stop until they're successful – ever!"
"Oh. And I suppose these 'very bad people' you mentioned are from the future, is that it?", Kojiro says, surprising the quintet.
"Oh yes, that's right, I almost forgot that part", he went on, turning to one of his men – a young 21-year-old rookie. "Hey Wataru, why don't you read aloud that file on them that we dug up earlier?"
"Sure thing, Kojiro", Wataru says, opening a file & rummaging through it. "Listen to this, folks. This is a file featuring notes from a Dr. Peter Silberman, criminal psychologist from the West Highland Police Station & at Pescadero where Sarah was kept. It goes like this: 'I've been following up on Sarah Connor's case for many years even before she's been under my care here at Pescadero State Hospital. She suffers from a delusion so outrageous, it makes even the most paranoid schizophrenic seem sane. She highly claims that a machine called a 'Terminator' – which looks human – had been sent back in time to kill her. Not only that, a soldier whom I've been told by Sarah is named Kyle Reese, was sent to do the opposite & protect her. He was from the future, too…the year 2029, if I recall it correctly. On numerous occasions, Sarah Connor has told me repeatedly that she & Reese battled this 'Terminator', outrunning it all over the city before cornering it in a factory. Reese managed to blow it in half from the waist down with a pipe bomb – something he knew how to make in his time – but was killed, leaving her with the robot's upper half. She finally managed to defeat it by crushing it under a hydraulic press. In an attempt to prove her story is on the level, Sarah Connor has made repeated escapes from this facility, only to have met with defeat each time. On top of that, she also stated that her son John is destined to be humanity's savior in the future & lead them to victory over the rebellious machines.'"
During & after Wataru's oral reading of Silberman's report, snickers of amusement came from the many officers in the room, including Kojiro himself.
"That is original!", said one officer, barely able to contain himself from bursting with laughter.
Needless to say, only the Connors, Shaoran, Meilin & Tomoyo weren't laughing, snickering or even cracking a smile.
"Hey, get off it, you people!", Meilin snapped, unable to keep her frustrations in check. "While it all may sound ludicrous to you, it's the goddamn truth! We've seen these things with our own eyes & even fought them, & they don't play around!"
The laughing in all forms cease, & Kojiro gets back to business.
"Really? And where do you three come into all of this?", Kojiro asks, motioning to Meilin, Shaoran & Tomoyo. "Not one of you ever had a criminal record before tonight, & yet you all allow yourself to swallow this tripe of futuristic robots & join up with these two, beginning with that incident at the park earlier today? A few witnesses say they saw you three leaving the horrible scene as one, with yet one more in your party – a female your age – of whom we haven't found yet! Where is she? If you tell me, you might get a reduced sentence at the city's facility for juvenile delinquents!"
"And what's going to happen to the Connors?", Meilin asks.
"Simple: they get extradited to America as Sarah goes back to Pescadero State Hospital under 24-hour surveillance, & John receives the same treatment as you three – only with no visitations for either of them!"
"But you can't, officer! You'll be making a big mistake!", Shaoran says. "They're too important to get locked up! Think about it for a minute: how can a single individual just walk in a police station & kill that many number of cops & stroll out virtually unscathed? Even the most trained assassin or martial artist wouldn't dare attempt such a suicidal feat! It's proof of their story, don't you see?"
"He was probably wearing some sort of body armor underneath his jacket! But don't you see? They've gotten you three under their poisonous influence already, buying into their silly delusions!"
"But they're not delusions, officer!", Tomoyo pleadingly says. "In my backpack is my camcorder! I recorded these killer machines on tape! They're the indisputable proof you need to convince you that Sarah & John Connor are not lunatics, & that their story is more than legitimate! All I ask is that you go & take a look at it!"
Tomoyo's last statement seemed to have hit a nerve with Kojiro, as he stares at her & the rest with intent. Sarah, John, Shaoran & Meilin stare at her with a 'What are you doing' kind of look, but it didn't seem to bother Tomoyo one bit. She knew it was possibly the only way to help clear the Connors of their heinous actions in the past, even if it meant exposing Sakura & the secret of the Clow Cards to law enforcement.
"I'll look at it in a few minutes, once I'm done in here", Kojiro said finally. "You do realize, young lady, that I have to send a report to your mother about all this, don't you? I haven't done that yet, but I will get around to it – same with Mr. Wei about Shaoran & Meilin here."
Kojiro heads over to his desk as the four still stare at Tomoyo like she's lost her senses. But she didn't back down: there was no other brilliant ideas at the moment, & this was the only card to play.
From elsewhere in the station, a trio of officers were placing away guns in a locker that were used in a Yakuza case only a month ago. Guns such as 12-Gauges, Glocks, Barettas, Magnums & a couple of automatic rifles & handguns were stored, never to be used by unlawful hands again.
"Hey guys, what's going on?", said a new voice from behind. The cops turn to see a pair of well-built officers, one with a goatee around his mouth.
"Good evening", the first cop said. "I don't think we've ever seen you two here before."
"We just started today", said the first newcomer, the one with the goatee. "Tell us – do you have a Sarah & John Connor being held here?"
"We certainly do", said the second cop. "Picked them up with three others nearly an hour ago."
"Do you know where they are right now?", asked the second newcomer. "We'd like to see them."
"They're over at the main office, being interrogated", said the third cop. "In fact, the three of us were just there only minutes ago until we were dismissed."
The two newcomers face each other briefly.
"Thank you, officers. We'll take it from here", said the goatee, reaching into the locker & grabbing the 12-Gauge.
"What do you mean you'll…hey!", the first cop said when he saw him grabbing the weapon. He gets struck in the throat by a powerful arm that crushes his windpipe & snaps his neck, killing him in an instant. The other two cops were snagged by their own necks by a pair of powerful hands that cut off both their air & vocal chords before either can utter a word. They struggle in their grips, but they might as well be fighting brick walls, being unable to get free or even call for help.
Without a word, the two newcomers make their victims collide with each other in the blink of an eye, cracking their skulls in with a wet crunch & drop them to the floor. Not knowing when any further interference may show up, the two killers in cop's clothing continue gathering the guns & ammo inside the locker when another officer appears out of the blue.
"What was that? I heard a yell, & then…", he said, when he spots the newcomers standing at the locker, hoarding weapons & three of his fellow officers lying dead on the floor in a puddle of blood.
"Hey, you guys! Hold it right there!", he shouts, aiming his weapon. Before he can get even one shot off, the goatee figure shoots first from a Glock in his hands, the bullets going straight through the man's chest as he collapses, joining his deceased comrades.
The shots were not unheard from where Kojiro & his group were.
"Did those shots come from inside the building?", Wataru asks, rising from his seat with the rest.
"I'm afraid they did!", Kojiro says, grabbing his weapon. "Wataru, you stay here & watch them! If you need to get them to safer quarters, do it! The rest of you – come with me!"
"Yes sir!", the other cops say & rush out of the room with Kojiro taking point. A sense of dread washed over Sarah & company. Shaoran was right: it was going toget ugly with a horrific sense of deja-vu, most notably for Sarah, having experienced the 1984 massacre firsthand.
And being handcuffed to a seat wasn't helping their situation.
Dressed in their own uniforms, the two Terminators go through room after room, targeting & killing cops when they come across them. Some are taken down by rapid gunfire bursts, others get hit by a single shotgun or handgun blast. But each one goes down crying out in pain before expiring. There were several officers who had the chance to fight back by shooting their own guns, but every bullet that struck either seemed to have no apparent effect on them in the slightest. It was like they never even felt getting shot.
The cops, on the other hand, felt plenty.
"Sarah & John Connor! Where are they?", the first Terminator asks.
"First one who talks gets to live!", said the other. They hear a sound behind them & make a 180 degree turn, facing Kojiro & several of his men, all with guns drawn.
"Are you two crazy?! We don't fire on or kill other cops, let alone unarmed & helpless prisoners! Now drop 'em & put your hands up!", Kojiro shouted.
His answer was more swift gunfire, which Kojiro barely had time to avoid by ducking. His other officers weren't so fortunate: they were firing up until they were brought down, crying in agony as they did. The goatee pursued Kojiro while the other went the opposite way, taking out more officers that it came across, armed or not.
Even with the door to the room closed, everyone within can hear the rapid, powerful bursts of the continuous gunfire & anguished cries of the dying, a horrid chorus that reached the ears of cop & suspect alike, their hearts racing out of control.
For all, it was a nightmare to even those who went through the experience in the past.
They need to get away – fast!
Hearing the cries of his comrades was more than Wataru could handle: he rushes over to where Sarah & the others are still cuffed, fumbling with the keys.
"You're taking us away from here?", asked John.
"Only over to safer quarters, like Kojiro wanted me to if things got too hairy!", he said as he gets Shaoran's cuff off first. "But you're all still our prisoners nevertheless, so don't you get any ideas of…"
Shaoran cut him off as he swings his right foot into Wataru's shin, sending a surge of pain in his leg. He follows it up by sending his left foot into his solar plexus, knocking him into a table with the wind kicked out of him. Shaoran finishes it with a right chop to the side of his head, putting him out of commission. Wataru falls to the floor, unconscious.
"Sorry about that, Wataru. But you don't know what's at stake here – we do!", Shaoran says, grabbing the keys & hurrying to get the rest free. "We need to get the cards & Tomoyo's camcorder first!"
"Tomoyo, were you really going to let that cop look at that video you made of Sakura using her cards to battle the Terminators?", Sarah asked. "You could've put us and her at risk with that choice! What's wrong with you?!"
"Back off, Sarah! Now isn't the time for such a debate!", Meilin said in her defense. "Let's just get what we need & go already! It won't be long before they make their way in here!"
"She's right, mom!", John said when the door to the room gets bashed open by a powerful foot, revealing one of the Terminators with a mini-submachine gun.
"RUN!", Sarah shouted & they bolt out the opposite door, just as the killer cyborg unleashes a volley of bullets at the fleeing quintet, shattering glass in its wake. A group of cops shoot at the thing from behind, their bullets getting its attention. Turning, it made quick work of them, bringing each one down in record time before resuming pursuit of its primary targets.
Sarah & company race down the corridor of the station, frantically searching for the evidence room where no doubt what they're looking for are stashed there. The firing of guns & cries of agony are mostly distant sounds at this point, but still audible & they weren't slowing down. They come near a room filled with cabinets that have numerous objects resting on their shelves. Taking a harder look, they find some things that are too familiar – their backpacks.
"This is it!", Meilin said, kicking the door open with a hard right foot. Shaoran & Tomoyo quickly grab their packs & look inside. Tomoyo's camcorder & the Sakura Book & most of the cards were still within. Only no Kero, but Shaoran kind of expected that from him.
"They're here! Let's move!", Tomoyo said. The group head out of the room when they hear a voice from not too far away – one that sounded familiar.
It was Kojiro's.
The quintet looked at each other, debating on whether or not to assist him.
The lucky officer lead the second Terminator down a stretch of hallway after shouting if it wanted to find the Connors. Taking the bait, it followed him with its guns drawn, ready to shoot him or anyone it came in contact with. Approaching a corner, it made a turn…
A powerful shotgun Kojiro held blasted the Terminator in its midsection repeatedly, staggering the cyborg & driving it back several feet, never giving it a chance to aim or even fire its weapons. Blast after blast from Kojiro's shotgun hit it in the chest & weapons, knocking them both out of its hands. A lucky blast even caught it in the left side of its face, making it jerk.
But even after all that, it still stood on its two feet.
And what amazed Kojiro the most was that when it turned its head back, the officer saw the most unusual sight in all his career as a cop: where its eye should be was a patch of shiny silver metal, with a red robotic sensor that acted just like any other eyeball.
This guy really is a machine!, Kojiro thought. He was beginning to think that maybe the Connors aren't so crazy after all: no man can take that many hits from a shotgun even with body armor on, let alone a direct hit to the face, & still stand.
The Terminator rushed Kojiro & grabbed him one-handed by the neck & held him up. Kojiro was like a child in its unbreakable grip despite his struggles & never getting the chance to use his weapon, which was dropped.
"Sarah & John Connor! Where?", it asked. When he didn't answer, it squeezed slightly & Kojiro grunted in pain. "I will begin breaking your 206 bones one at a time until you tell me! Now…where are the Connors?"
Kojiro's vision started going dark.
A deafening blast hit the Terminator in the side of its head, causing it to release the officer out of its death grip. Catching his breath, Kojiro sees Sarah Connor blasting at the cyborg with a shotgun five or six times before it gets knocked down. With her are John, Tomoyo, Meilin & Shaoran, the latter of which holds his hand out, the other holding his sword.
"Kojiro! Come with us if you want to live!", he says.
"Well?! What's it gonna be?! We don't have all day here!", Meilin says when he doesn't answer.
"This way!", he says, rising to his feet as Sarah & the others follow him. He leads the group to a parking garage with white & black patrol cars & SUVs, the latter with tinted windows. They head to the SUV closest to the entrance as Kojiro gets in the driver's side.
"Sarah, in the passenger seat! The rest of you – in the back!", he instructs, & they waste no time doing what he said. Practically diving in the vehicle & closing the doors, Kojiro starts the SUV & hits a switch that opens the garage doors that lead out of the station. Once it opens high enough, Kojiro floors the accelerator & they race out, leaving a pair of bewildered motorcycle cops behind. Both look at each other & wonder where the driver was off to in a hurry.
It was their last thought: from behind, the two Terminators grab them by the head & crack their necks with a slight twist before throwing their bodies off their rides & getting on themselves, their weapons restocked & reloaded as they take off in hot pursuit.
Behind the wheel, Kojiro swerves through traffic like a rat in a maze, putting as much distance as he can between them & their inhuman pursuers. Aside from the rough ride, Sarah & company keep their balance & an eye out for any sign of them. They spot them almost immediately in the rear-view mirrors, their weapons aimed.
"Incoming!", Sarah said.
"I see them!", Kojiro says. "Hey, there's grenades in that wooden crate back there! See if you kids can either disable their rides or blow them off course long enough for us to get away!"
"Meilin & I can handle that! John, you & Tomoyo stay down!", Shaoran says, as the rest nod & he gets into the crate. Pulling out two grenades, Shaoran & Meilin get ready to kick the rear window out when a round of bullets does that for them, shattering the glass at both front & back ends as everyone quickly ducked to avoid the deadly barrage of bullets & flying glass. When the volley ceases, Shaoran & Meilin pull the pins & throw their grenades out, hoping for a lucky break.
When the grenades go off, both Terminators dodge to one side & resume firing.
It was time to change tactics: this time, only Meilin will handle the grenades & Shaoran uses his sword & Chinese jian parchments. Tossing out another duo of deadly pineapples, he waits for them to explode before he acts. When they go off, Shaoran goes up at bat.
"Thunder god, answer my call!", he calls out, holding his sword horizontally with a parchment on the blade. Streaks of lightning race toward the pursuing Terminators & hit the pavement just as they swerve to avoid it as easily as they did the pineapples, only it makes their bikes wobble slightly. They return fire as Shaoran gets behind the tailgate, which acts like a shield.
A damn fine time you picked to ditch us, Kero! Some guardian beast you are!, Shaoran thought sorely, wishing for once he was there to help.
In the meantime, they'll have to deal with their pursuers themselves: Shaoran nods to Meilin, who gets the message. For many years, these two are able to communicate with each other without ever saying a word. It's how they were able to help Sakura capture the Twin Card when it was loose.
Now they use that tactic on futuristic killer robots, like so: as one, Meilin tosses another pair of grenades out the window while Shaoran uses his lightning attack with his sword, simultaneously. The grenades go off as Shaoran's lightning strikes one of the motorcycles & causes it to explode from the underside, making it flip as it goes airborne. The Terminator riding jumps off & onto its partner's bike in the rear just before the blast occurred.
For the most part, the attack was successful. It was down to two Terminators on one motorcycle.
But now they have a new problem: the airborne bike was heading straight for them overhead.
"Incoming from above!", Shaoran shouted.
"I see it! Hang tight back there!", Kojiro shouted back, locating the spinning cycle in his rear-view mirror. With a shark jerk of the wheel, he turns left, jarring his passengers despite the warning as the motorcycle Shaoran struck crashes onto the pavement that shatters it into spare parts, breaking off in half & crushing the frame with pieces flying everywhere.
The good news is that they avoided getting crushed from above.
The bad news is the maneuver left them wide open for attack, & the Terminators knew it: firing a few rounds, they strike the right rear tire which makes a loud pop as it busts like a balloon & shreds the rubber off the rim. Kojiro swore as he fought for control while the vehicle swishes & swirls like he was under the influence of alcohol, having pulled over many drunks in his career. Sarah & the rest held on for dear life.
"Kojiro!", Sarah shouted.
The officer saw to where she was pointing at, & his own heart skipped a beat. They were fast approaching a curb with a tree sticking out of it at the edge. With the speed they're currently going at, they might not only crash into it, but they could also get themselves killed from the sudden impact & do the Terminator's job for them. Thinking fast, Kojiro made another sharp turn to the right this time, a maneuver that made the SUV flip over as it scraped the tree on its left. It wasn't much of a scrape, but it was more than enough. The vehicle flipped onto its roof as the rest of the glass blew out from the doors when it was crushed, & the momentum made it skid across the street to the other side, stopping when it crashes into a parked & deserted car.
Everyone inside was jarred from the impact but alive.
That may change within the next few seconds: the Terminators got off their two-wheeled ride & walked over to the totaled SUV. Sarah & the rest were crawling out of the bashed SUV when they saw the two cyborgs coming their way. Shaoran, Meilin & Kojiro all stood ready for battle, even if their movements were more than slightly sluggish.
Sarah cuddled John & Tomoyo close, asking her son to keep his eyes close. Tomoyo couldn't.
Man & machine stood & stared each other down.
"Stand aside, humans", the goatee cyborg said. "You three are not who we seek."
"Blow us, you filthy machines!", Meilin spat.
"Same here!", Shaoran said, his sword raised high. "You want to kill the Connors, you're going to have to go through us first!"
"The crash has disoriented you", the second cyborg said. "In your current conditions, there is no way you can defeat us, magical abilities or not."
"Like we give a shit!", Kojiro spat. "You're not killing the Connors – either of them – in cold blood, misters!"
The Terminators briefly look at each other.
"Wrong", they both said, aiming their guns.
"One of your groups is, anyway!", shouted a voice from the cyborg's right. Both turn to see a big patch of yellow & white race towards them, hitting the goatee & knocking it away several feet. It was a winged mountain lion with sharp teeth which were really doing a number on the cyborg's flesh after it knocked away its weapons. From out of its mouth shot forth a gout of flames that strike the machine's head at point-blank range, melting it & a portion of the street with its intense heat. The thing's arms fought to fend it off, but it was too little, too late: the now-headless machine's movements ceased as its head became molten metal. Behind it, the second Terminator aimed its weapons to deal with the new threat, but it suddenly gets hit from the rear by what appears to be a baby blue arrow of energy which entered its back & exits out through its chest on a slant. Its body begins sparking from head to toe & drops its guns to the pavement. The assault on it doesn't stop there: it now gets pummeled by a volley of double-pointed crystals or diamonds a couple inches in length, striking it in various spots all over & creating sizable holes. A pair strike it in the head, with one going through where its CPU chip is at. Powering down like someone flicked its 'off' switch, the Terminator falls face-first to the street in a loud clang, joining its partner for the scrap heap.
Everyone looked to the sky to see a most amazing sight: it was a tall man dressed in a white robe-like garment with large angel wings on his back, just like the yellow lion has. His feet were partly bare, & sported a head of long silvery-white hair that was braided greatly. One might think of him as an angel sent from Heaven, but the light lavender eyes show a sign of both bravery & determination, with a touch of malevolence within.
All eyes were currently focused on him.
So that's why Kero took off before! He went to go get him!, Shaoran thought. Had the roles been reversed, he would've no doubt done the same thing. In a time when they really needed assistance, Kero went & got it for them – in the guise of the second guardian of the Clow Cards.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me!", Kojiro said, staring at the two winged figures.
"Holy shit! Is that…?", Sarah started to ask.
"Yue, yes", Tomoyo says with relief.
"Damn! Talk about angels descending from Heaven!", John said, totally awed by Yue's sudden appearance.
"It isn't the first time I've been mistaken for one", Yue said, floating down to the street & gazing at the American woman & boy. "You are Sarah & John Connor, I presume?"
"Y-You presume correctly", Sarah said, having a bit of difficulty getting the words out.
"Yue, we've got a very serious problem on our hands here!", Shaoran began.
"Yes I know, Descendant of Clow Reed", Yue spoke. "Keroberos gave me a quick rundown of the current situation when he found me here in this city, from the attack on the Connors up to the sudden disappearance of Sakura, my new master."
"So you know as to why she isn't here right now", Meilin said.
"Yes. I first felt her presence vanish without a trace. It was the main reason why I hurried back from my hidden form's hiking trip up north. When Keroberos filled me in, it explained why her aura was gone, & why I couldn't find or feel any trace of it anywhere. I don't mind saying that it was a rather foolish risk for her, let alone without an ally such as Keroberos or myself at her side."
"It was a risk she was willing to take, Yue", Meilin said. "She believed in her idea, & none of us had any time to contact you, or even knew how."
"But now that you are here", John said. "Sakura's fighting on her front in this battle, & we need to do the same in the city! Now that we've got a few more players, we might be able to…"
"Hold on here, time out for a moment!", Kojiro says in a burst of frustration & anger. "I've seen quite a number of strange shit in my life as a cop, but this is just too much! I don't know what the full story is, but someone here is going to tell me, & he or she is going to do it right now!"
"You have seen too much already, human. It's best you leave the rest to us", Yue said.
"Fuck you, mister, whatever the hell you are!", Kojiro snapped, getting in & pointing a finger at Yue's face. "I watched in pure horror as my fellow officers get mowed down by these two machines in cold blood, then a man in white & a lion with wings swoop in & trash them with ease, & you just expect me to take a hike afterwards?! No chance – I owe it to my fallen comrades at the station to get to the bottom of all this, so one of you better give me the lowdown on everything, & I mean everything!"
Yue stared at the man, unfazed by his temperamental fit. Kojiro still held his ground.
"Kojiro?", Tomoyo says, holding her camcorder in her hands. "This will explain everything better to you."
"Tomoyo, no! You can't let him see that!", Sarah protested.
"Listen, Sarah!", Tomoyo says in a rare display of anger, facing her. "Even you have enough sense to know when the jig is up! Both of our secrets have been revealed to this officer under circumstances far beyond our control, & he did help us get away from those machines that wanted to kill not just you & your son, but us too! We owe him that! And he does owe it to all his fellow officers who have been killed by their hands! And anyway, wasn't it you who said back there that you could still hear the cries of help from those officers that went unanswered when that Terminator came after you in 1984? It haunts you even now, doesn't it?"
"She isn't wrong, Sarah", Kojiro said in a softer tone. "Reading your profile, I saw that while you have resisted arrest with cops in the past, no persons died by your hand as far as I know. Truth be told, I can begin to accept that you really didn't kill Miles Dyson, but took his own life during the Cyberdyne raid. And after what I've just seen here, it's safe to assume that I'm right. Even if what I'm about to do is wrong by all counts as a policeman…"
"You mean you'll help us too?", Sarah asked hopeful.
"Only if you'll help me first, beginning with letting me see what Tomoyo has on her camcorder. Whatever I'm missing, you all can fill me in on. Can we agree on that?"
Sarah sighed. Kojiro was right: she'd never murdered anyone in cold blood, despite the rigorous training she went through in learning how to fight hand-to-hand & even handling guns & other forms of weaponry. As for Miles Dyson, she at first wanted to kill him for helping to cause Judgment Day, but at the last minute she balked, realizing what a big mistake it would've been had she pulled the trigger.
Having her son coming after her to make sure of it helped more than she could say.
"What say you, Miss Connor?", Keroberos says, walking to her. "Don't you think Kojiro has the right to get his fallen officers the payback they deserve?"
She turns to Kojiro & sees a man whose facial expression shows not threats or anger, but of a plea. Even in a cop, she can respect that.
"You ready to go the whole ten yards?", she asked him. He nodded without a second thought.
"Then welcome to our world, Kojiro", Tomoyo says, handing him her camcorder.
Tomoeda Elementary School, Tokyo, Japan, 2029:
All hell literally broke loose as Terminators – some with flesh, others without – came crashing in on the school's basement & started snuffing out the humans hiding within. Many died instantly from the deadly barrage of laser fire, but there were others who stood & fought back, taking down machine after machine more fiercely. Keroberos & even Sakura got into the action: the guardian beast released a stream of flames at the oncoming machines, melting limbs & even heads into molten slag. Sakura called upon the Thunder Card, & a large wolf-like creature of pure electricity went charging after the killer cyborgs, shorting them out one after another & causing them to explode into useless scrap. She also calls forth the Through Card – a young woman in an Oriental style gown, with twin loops of hair held at the top in a ball with a long tail, ball earrings & blue oval passing through a circle – which gets to a wall & creates a large glowing circle.
"Everybody! Go into the circle! It will lead you out!", Sakura announces the ones who aren't able to fight. "Hurry!"
"You can trust her, folks! Do as she says, quickly!", Kyle Reese says, blasting away at anything metal. "For Christ's sake, go!"
The civilians all gather & head straight for the glowing circle & enter. Each gets a tingly feeling when they enter, but upon emerging out the other side, they enter a room devoid of any fighting & it leads to the outside where a trio of large filthy yellow school buses were waiting.
They hurry for the nearest one without slowing down.
"Yamazaki, go with them & get those people far away from here!", Connor says, firing at more of the machines & taking them down with each shot. "We'll hold them off to buy you some time! Move!"
"On it!", Yamazaki said, hurrying towards the circle the Through Card created & passing into & through it. He too emerges out the other end to find the people all gathered in one bus. Getting into the driver's seat, Yamazaki starts the engine.
"Hold tight, everyone! We're out of here!", he says, stepping on the gas & driving up a man-made ramp to the war outside.
"Our turn now!", Connor says to Sakura, Reese, Shaoran & Keroberos.
"You three head off! I'll cover for you!", Keroberos says.
"Keroberos…", Shaoran started to say.
"Trust me, Shaoran! I know what I'm doing! I'll see you all topside! Now please…go!"
He leaps into battle & taking on more Terminators with the Thunder Card before John or anyone can protest.
"John, we need to get topside!", Sakura said. "We have to make sure that Yamazaki gets those people away from here without any machines impeding their progress! Keroberos & the Thunder Card are giving us the chance to do that!"
"All right, Sakura! Reese…you three cover our escape!", John says as they nodded.
John & Shaoran enter the circle to join the others as Reese lays down cover fire at the last of the invading Terminators, most of which have been disposed of by Keroberos, the Thunder Card & by laser fire from the Resistance's plasma rifles. Seeing their leader getting away, Reese & Sakura begin to join them as the latter turns briefly to look at the last two cyborgs in the room. She stares at the cold & the calculating relentlessness of the machines as they mercilessly mow down & shoot those who couldn't escape in time or were wounded, placing blaster fire into the weak & the dying.
No mercy, no pity, no remorse – just cold-hearted execution on the spot.
Sakura's eyes turn into a hard scowl, & her hands grip her Star Wand tighter, her teeth gritted.
Kyle sees her display of emotion, & snaps her out of it.
"Sakura!", he says, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Sakura honey, my feelings towards them are more than mutual, I assure you! But let's not forget what we have to do first – help Yamazaki get away with the civilians!"
"Yeah, you're right, Kyle! Let's do that!", Sakura said, her tone soft but still hard. Taking one last look at the heartless machines, the three of them go through the wall themselves & out the opposite end before Sakura calls for the Through Card to return. They run up the ramp to rejoin John Connor & Shaoran Li, who were already in a shootout with more machines alongside more soldiers.
"Yamazaki's getting safely away, but we're in for more company!", Connor said, jerking his thumb over to where more of Skynet's forces are coming in from. It was a whole plethora of machines on the way: Terminators, HKs from both land and air, & even ones that resemble four-legged spiders. This squadron of machines spreads from one end of the horizon to the other. It was the largest assembly of enemies that any of them have seen in a long time, & even Connor felt hard-pressed to try & defeat it.
"Now we see why Yamazaki called us over!", Kyle said. "They are being hit hard!"
"Even we were never hit like this back in L.A.!", John said. "There must be some motive behind it all!"
"We'll worry about that later, Connor!", Keroberos says, landing next to him as Sakura recalls the Thunder Card. "Right now, let's deal with what's heading our way!"
"I have an idea about that, Keroberos!", Sakura said, holding up a trio of cards, the Freeze Card being the first. The second one showed a picture of a woman with elbow-length braided hair dressed in Arabic clothing, & oval jewel on her forehead. The third card shows a woman with a crystalline body & wearing a cape. Her hair is in two swirls, & a cluster of green jewels were embedded on her forehead.
The Sand & Earthy Cards.
"Perfect, Sakura! Those three shall really deplete their forces! Do it!", Shaoran says.
"Freeze! Sand! Earthy!", Sakura calls out, throwing the cards in the air & raising her Star Wand. "I command you to come forth & attack those oncoming machines!"
Her wand & three cards light up, activating them all at once. The fish & woman forms of both the Freeze & Sand Cards race off, while the Earthy in its true form resembles more like a serpentine dragon which burrows itself into the ground. Before they can even acknowledge what hit them, the Earthy Card acts like its namesake & creates huge stalagmites of earth, knocking over & crushing hundreds. Ground fissures open up & swallow many more of the advancing machines, disappearing from sight & undoubtedly shattered into pieces upon impact. In another part of the battalion, the Sand Card makes a huge pit of its namesake & cause hundreds – even thousands – of machines to get caught within the trap & sink below, getting their gears caught as they fill with sand. Even the treads of the HK Tanks cannot withstand the sandstorm or find any traction, & they sink into the pit as well, going down even faster than any of the Terminators do.
The Freeze Card does a number of damage itself: flying in between the Sand & Earthy, Freeze lets loose an extremely frigid blast of air that solidifies any machine caught in sheets of ice, including many Aerial HKs that plummet to the ground & shatter upon impact, doing the same to whatever machines were caught underneath.
But Skynet's forces weren't just built to look ruthless, they were ruthless: another battalion of its machines were right behind the current one, & they waste no time in firing upon the Freeze, Sand & Earthy Cards from land & air. Powerful strikes even for them, the cards shriek in pain as Sakura can feel it from where she stood.
Magical forces or not, they were getting hurt.
"Sakura?", Kyle wondered, seeing her cringe & going to her side with Shaoran. "What's wrong, honey?"
"The cards…I'm feeling their pain!", she said, wincing. "Skynet's forces are…"
"How is this even possible?", Connor asks. "I thought they couldn't get hurt!"
"The cards share something of a symbiotic link with their master!", Keroberos says. "Any of them gets hurt, it gets felt by that who commands them! Magical beings they are, they're still living things, & can feel pain like any other!"
"Best to call them back, Sakura! They caused enough damage to the enemy already!", Kyle says. Sakura nods, agreeing.
"Sand! Freeze! Earthy! Return!", she calls out, raising her wand.
As one, the trio of Sakura Cards become their true forms & fly off in the direction of their master, going too fast for any machine to get a bead on & shoot them. They return to her book with the rest.
"Good girl! That ought to weaken Skynet's defenses greatly & allow Yamazaki more than enough time to make his escape!", Shaoran said. "He's probably taken the civilians out of the city by now!"
Godspeed, Yamazaki!, Sakura thought, offering her own prayer.
A sound from overhead caused Connor & every one of his troops to look up. What they see is a new nasty surprise: a flock of Aerial HKs with stealth engines to make their approach almost unnoticed. Only the slight hiss of their turbines gives them away. In each of their undersides, a pair of Bombay doors open up to unleash a volley of falling bombs as they pass by.
"Shit!", Connor shouted, & they all scatter like roaches in all kinds of directions. The bombs hit & explode, sending up plumes of dirt & smoke, leaving large holes wherever they detonate. Most of the soldiers escape the onslaught, but there were some who weren't as lucky, being blown to pieces where they stood by not being fast enough. Those who did survive return fire by hitting the undersides where their bombs were being dropped. A couple of the HKs managed to escape, but most got blown to scrap by direct hits from plasma rifles as scrap metal fell to the ground in burning wreckage.
When the smoke cleared & the other HKs fell back, Connor, Reese, Keroberos & many of their soldiers regrouped.
"You guys okay?", Connor asked Reese, Shaoran & Keroberos, who nodded. He turned to his other troops. "How many did they get?"
"Don't know exactly!", said one soldier. "Around a dozen or so is my guess!"
Connor nodded as the rest briefly bow their heads.
"We can grieve for them further later!", Shaoran says, raising his sword. "We still have another wave of machines heading our way, so let's be ready!"
"Wait a minute, Shaoran! Look!", Kyle said, pointing.
"What the hell…?", Connor said, disbelieving his eyes.
The armada of machines do something none of them never expected to do, as stated by Kyle.
"They…they're retreating? I don't get it!"
But it was true: Terminators, ground & air HKs & other weapons from Skynet's forces were all headed west & away from their position in groves. It was like John Connor & his Human Resistance did not matter to them at all.
"I don't understand it either!", Shaoran says. "They have a formidable army in their midst capable of dealing with us prominently, & yet they're going away from us?"
"It is puzzling, Shaoran", Connor said. "And it doesn't make any sense to me: why would they go & attack in great numbers with heavy reinforcements to overpower us like they tried to, then suddenly pull out like this?"
"It couldn't be because they thought of giving up & surrendering!", Kyle said. "Those metallic bastards don't even know the meaning of the damn word!"
"No, Kyle! 'Surrender' is not part of their twisted vocabulary!", Keroberos said. "It was never an option Skynet commanded its troops to do! But Connor has a point: why would they withdraw at a moment's notice if…"
"What's the matter, Keroberos?", Shaoran asked.
Frantically, they called out her name, getting no answer. In all the confusion, they nearly forgot about her & never thought of searching for her. In fact, Sakura's disappearance intermingled with the withdrawl of the Aerial HKs & Skynet's other forces. That was when it all dawned on Connor, & a chill ran up his spine.
"Jesus Christ, why didn't we see this before?!", he says dreadfully. "Kyle…now I see why we were called here! It all makes sense now! Tokyo got hit hardest not just because of the war on mankind, but because they were searching for something, or should I say someone! And now we know just who that someone is!"
The realization hits Shaoran, Kyle & Keroberos like a ton of bricks.
"Dear God, no…", Shaoran says, the conjecture of it all sinking in.
"They're after Sakura!", Connor, Kyle, Shaoran & Keroberos say as one with undisguised fear in their voices.
"Skynet must want her because of the very strong magical power she has, not to mention in the cards themselves!", Kyle said. "Fucking A! If Skynet does somehow get its filthy metal mitts on that power she possesses…"
"Then the machines can wipe us out even faster than when it launched the nukes!", Connor said, facing his troops. "Get in the cars! Now!"
Over the ruins of Tokyo:
During the bombing from the Aerial HKs, Sakura called upon the Fly Card & sprouted the angel wings which enabled her to take to the skies. Her cards in tow inside her backpack & Star Wand in hand, she soars over the ruins of the city she called home in the hopes to help lure away Skynet's band of merciless machines from John Connor's own troops & give them a fighting chance.
She gets her wish, only it was granted to her a little too well: a score of Aerial HKs pursue her in a swarm like mechanical bees & ground forces of HK Tanks & fast-marching Terminators like when the Nazis tried to invade Russia in World War II. Each of these machines have received a specific order via silent communication from their master.
'Primary target has been spotted. Your orders are to subdue & capture Sakura Kinomoto. She is to be brought back alive. Do NOT kill or damage her in any way. Suggested use of weaponry to accomplish mission is with stun shots. Report when objective is completed.'
'Orders received & understood. End of transmission.'
Once transmissions ceased, their objective commences.
The Aerial HKs begin firing stun beams first at Sakura, who dodges them in aerial maneuvers as each bolt of blue energy whizzes by with some getting too close. Sakura needs to take the offensive in a way that will put a good number of their forces out of action.
And she knows just the cards to help her do it.
A pair of cards eject themselves from her backpack. They float to her face & nod, being the exact cards she wanted. The first one was that of a young woman with elf-like ears & long straight hair that were sprinkled with little balls like dew drops. Her hands were placed over her heart as if in prayer. The other card Sakura called upon had a pale yellow fairy-like woman with blonde hair that was decorated up & then went down in two long strands, with the thicker ones resembling wings. Small green wing-like shapes rest on her forehead.
The Mist & Windy Cards, the latter of which helped Sakura defeat Yue in the Final Judgment.
She calls to the Mist Card first, touching it with her wand. A thick green fog shoots out of the card & engulfs the pursuing HKs, covering a good portion of the aerial machines. When the fog floats away, each HK caught in its path was rusted to its core, much of it eaten on its surface & insides. Unable to stay airborne, these rusted HKs fall & crash into the armada of ground forces, most getting blown to scrap where they land.
Sakura then calls for the Windy Card, which flies off to help Mist as it corrodes more HKs & even covers a volley of ground troops & vehicles, turning them into rusted scrap as the Mist eats away at their metal, changing it from shiny silver to an ugly brown in seconds. Windy presses on the assault by gathering up broken rusted pieces & hurling them at other machines, turning them into missiles that struck Terminators & brought them down. Any machines still active fire upon Mist & Windy with their rifles & cannons, but they prove to be just as difficult to hit as their primary target herself is. Shots go through Mist like they aren't even there, & Windy was too fluid like air itself. It was similar to shooting at ghosts, almost.
Changing tactics, the machines unleash another burst of something other than plasma beams. In an extra compartment of their weaponry, they let loose gouts of flames at both Mist & Windy, having been unsuccessful previously with standard shooting. The fire stung both cards on parts of their bodies but doing no permanent damage. It was more than enough to have Sakura feel their pain as she did with Freeze, Sand & Earthy earlier. Aside from the fluidity of Windy & Mist, fire can cover the air at an incredible rate & wipe out the smallest germ particles; it was why the machines were hurting them as they are.
Unable to allow their pain to continue, Sakura used her wand to call back Mist & Windy before the damage to them becomes too great. Transforming into cards again, they fly back into her backpack where her book is.
It gave the machines the opportunity they waited for: while Sakura was busy getting her cards back safely, a pair of Terminators from several yards ahead of her came out of hiding from behind an old car & aimed their rifles, firing a shot each. Both hit their target directly on the first try, & Sakura was struck by what felt like a slight shock from touching a doorknob when it gets charged by the air all around it.
But this shock wasn't slight: it was more like being hit by an electrical outlet after touching the exposed wiring. The sting hit Sakura from head to toe, her vision flickering like a defective light bulb before going dark. Her concentration broken, the wings on her back disappear & Sakura was in freefall, heading straight for an approaching HK that shoots out a cable & snags her in midair like a runaway steed, backpack, wand & all.
An outgoing transmission from the HK that caught her begins broadcasting.
'New transmission. Subject known as Sakura Kinomoto captured, unconscious but alive. Will return to base immediately for next phase.'
Acknowledging the message, its base confirms the report & orders the rest to continue assault on humans still in the vicinity.
When John Connor, Kyle Reese, Shaoran Li, Keroberos & the rest of the squad show up, they see an HK flying off with a captive Sakura, going too fast & being too far to catch up.
"Oh no you don't, you goddamn machine!", Kyle said, being behind the trigger of the car's large plasma rifle in the rear of their vehicle. Staring into the scope, he gets ready to shoot but holds off just in time when Keroberos gets in front of it, blocking his view and his shot.
"No, Kyle!", the winged lion says. "It's too risky! At that far a range, you might've hit Sakura & not even know it!"
"But we can't just let them leave with her!", Kyle said. "You know what's at stake if we do!"
"Kyle, I understand how you feel, but Keroberos is right!", Connor said. "Firing a shot at this range is too much of a risk – one we dare not take!"
Kyle stands down from the cannon with a heavy sigh & nodded, knowing Connor was correct like he always is.
"You're right, Connor", he says. "But now what do we do? How can we even find Sakura? It's not like she has on a tracking device for us to follow!"
"Actually Kyle…she does", Shaoran said, getting their attention.
"Ah yes! If anyone can locate Sakura no matter where she is, Shaoran can!", Keroberos says as he grasps the concept.
"He can?", Kyle asked, not sure where it was going.
"Care to explain it to them, kid?", Keroberos says with a wink.
With a smile & a nod, Shaoran lets Connor & Kyle the bottom line.
Tokyo, Japan, 1996:
Keroberos & Yue took care of the two defeated Terminators by crushing & melting them down into puddles of useless metal goo with no hopes of being shaped into sentient machines. At that time, Kojiro was viewing the video Tomoyo made of Sakura battling the two Terminators at Tomoeda Central Park earlier in the day. He watched in amazement & disbelief as it showed Sakura using the Freeze Card to immobilize the cyborgs before the Shot Card finished them off, followed by the Move Card to literally pick up the pieces & making them disappear.
Kojiro shook his head, not sure if he was hallucinating the whole thing.
"Incredible", he says once the video was over. "Even with the proof right in my face, I still have a hard time accepting all this."
He takes a deep breath & exhales as Tomoyo takes her camcorder back.
"What further evidence do you need to convince you of what we're telling you is true, Kojiro?", asked Sarah. "I admit it myself – when I was first told of these Terminators from Kyle Reese after he saved me from one twelve years ago, I thought he was crazy too. A complete kook, if you will. But all he said to me turned out to be the horrible truth. Same with those Clow Cards: created years ago from some long-dead magician named Clow Reed that can do all sorts of mystical abilities from someone with magic coursing through them, which happened to be Sakura who now commands these very things after going through rigorous trials to prove herself worthy."
"And she's gone off to the future, right?", he asks.
"Now you're catching on, Kojiro", Meilin said. "She believed in combatting Skynet on both fronts, meaning there and in this time, the latter of which is where we come in."
"And you wish to raid & destroy the Shorai No Tech Center like you did Cyberdyne?", Kojiro asked Sarah & John, staring at them.
"We don't have to raid the place, Kojiro", John said. "All we wish to do there is find this disc those Terminator statistics are on, make sure they haven't been sent or downloaded elsewhere, & wipe it out so that no one can use it in any form. Chances are the building itself will stay intact with very little or no damage."
"And what of the people already in there? How will you get past them?"
"According to our contacts, there should only be a skeleton crew in the evening hours", Sarah said. "That's why we wait until dark before making our move."
"As for those still there after business hours are over,it's where you come in, Kojiro", Shaoran says.
"You want me to pull a gun on those people so you can tie them up?", Kojiro asked, half-joking.
"No – not unless it's absolutely necessary, not before", John said. "Here's what I'm thinking of. All of you, listen to me very carefully."
Everyone, including Keroberos & Yue themselves, gather around John Connor as he explains his plan.
Outside the Shorai No Tech Center, 9:00 p.m.:
Night fell on the city, & hardly a living soul on the street or in the vicinity was out on it. A few lights shone from lampposts, & the area seemed like a ghost town sans the building a lone unmarked SUV was pulling its way into via parking lot. Only two other cars were parked there, presumably those who were still on duty at the building, performing their night shifts. This Black SUV had tinted windows on every side, & same-colored hubcaps.
Stepping out of the driver's seat was Kojiro.
Sarah, John, Tomoyo, Meilin, Shaoran & Yukito (Yue's borrowed form) have all emerged from the vehicle, each one wearing city maintenance overalls with matching caps over their regular clothing. Sarah took out a large tote bag from the rear & placed the strap over her shoulder. In his small form, Kero stayed hid in Tomoyo's backpack.
Kojiro couldn't help notice but look at Yukito.
"So this is really just your borrowed form, Yukito?", he asks.
"Correct", Yukito replied. "For many years, I was unaware of my true self until Sakura's brother gave me the power of his ability to see spirits, restoring my memories & saving me from, shall we say, extinction."
Kojiro looked him over quickly. He could hardly believe that the winged entity called Yue stands in front of him, disguised. Then again, the officer found it all unreal, from time-traveling cyborgs to a girl who possesses powerful cards that can no doubt lay waste to the world should they ever fall into the wrong hands.
Shaking his head, Kojiro puts it aside & concentrates on the task at hand.
"All right, do we all know what to do here?", he asks, getting nods from everyone.
"Thanks for doing this, Kojiro", Sarah said. "I know this must be difficult for you to do & all, but…"
"Don't thank me just yet, Sarah", he says, interrupting her. "Save it for if & when we get out of here alive if things happen to go south. I'm taking an awful risk here."
"But it's one that's worth taking."
"Yeah, so I've noticed. Let's go, people."
With Kojiro in the lead, the group head straight for the building.
Kojiro opens the front glass door of the facility, & everyone behind him/her held it there for the next person like a living train almost. The front entrance was large with tiled floors & marble walls, but a little smaller in size that that of Cyberdyne's. Similar to that building's entrance, however, there was a rectangular desk on the right side with a lone security guard at the seat watching a monitor. On the opposite side of him was a pair of men's & ladies' restrooms, & the hall's end split in two hallways. An elevator was visible from their point of view.
The security guard looked up from the monitor as Kojiro & company approached.
"Good evening, officer. May I help you?", he asks.
"Sorry to disturb your peaceful night, but I've gotten a complaint of an electrical glitch at this very location", Kojiro says. "I've brought city maintenance here to come take a look at it & make sure that everything's in perfect working order."
The guard quickly looked over the woman, young man & four kids, all of whom smiled briefly with a wave of their hands.
"Looks like they're starting them younger & younger", the guard replied to Kojiro. "I am sorry, officer. There must be some mistake: I wasn't notified of any electrical disturbance in the building. It seems you & city maintenance went on a wild goose chase, coming all the way down here for nothing."
"No – I wouldn't be so sure of that", Kojiro said, giving Sarah her cue.
While the guard was talking, Sarah silently opened the tote bag & pulled out a SPAS 12 Shotgun, aiming it at the guard. John pulled out a second one & tossed it to Kojiro, who caught it with ease & aimed. John took a powerful Magnum & extra clips for it, while giving his mother a SIG SG 550 assault rifle & clips.
"We didn't come all this way for nothing!", Sarah said, both weapons aimed at the man. "Now, get on the floor facedown & stay there! Try anything funny, & I'll fill you full of holes!"
The guard just stared at her.
"Hey! Didn't you hear her, mister?", Kojiro says. "Get your ass facedown on that goddamn floor & stay there! Otherwise, I'll put a hole in you if you don't!"
The door to the men's room suddenly erupted in half by a pair of powerful fists, flying right off its hinges as Kojiro & company jump back a few feet to avoid getting hit by flying pieces.
Out stepped a man in an officer's uniform, with brown hair & a gun in his holster.
It was no wonder the man at the front desk didn't flinch when guns were aimed at him: like his partner, he was a Terminator.
And they weren't alone: from the hallway just behind them was a sound of heavy footsteps that echoed the lobby. Considering the volume of the noise, Kojiro & his group guess that something big was coming their way.
They were wrong: what emerged from around the corner of the hallway were not any taller than a height of about six to eight feet tall, but what appeared weren't men. They were two bipedal reptiles, the first one being close to charcoal black & standing eight feet, with red patches on top of its head. Its forearms were long & thick, with three-fingered hands that ended in large deadly claws. On each of its feet was a large claw on one of its three toes, capable of stabbing like a knife. A mouth full of sharp teeth shone in the lights ahead. Its companion was only six feet high but no less nastier-looking: each of its feet also sported a large curved claw, & its forearms were long but not as thick as the other one's are. Its snout was slightly longer, with a mouth full of sharp teeth capable of tearing flesh. Its skin tone was mostly that of a white underside & green outer layer with black stripes across its back & tail. They walked on a forward slant, using their tails for balance.
Kojiro, Sarah & the rest could hardly believe what they were witnessing: the two newcomers are actual dinosaurs – the first being a Therizino, the second being a Deinonychus.
Both turned in their direction, & their eyes briefly lit up in a glow of red.
And they spoke!
"Welcome, Sarah & John Connor", said the Therizino.
"We have been expecting you", said the Deinonychus.
Dinosaurs! Skynet's sending fucking dinosaurs after my son & I!, Sarah thought grimly, cursing herself for not figuring that their arch-rival would better protect its assets than it did over at Cyberdyne last year.
The Terminators – human & otherwise – prepared a trap for them.
And they all fell for it like amateurs.
Tokyo, Japan, 2029:
Sakura slowly started opening her eyes.
Between the time she was hit by the Terminator's stun weapons that caused her to black out & now, she had no way of knowing how long she'd been out. She squinted from all of the bright lights overhead, her vision needing adjusting from the sudden darkness to the illumination of the room she saw herself in. Lying down on what she believes is a metal table, Sakura saw a metal room from ceiling on down to the floor, the walls lined with computers. Some had monitors that were consulting through all sorts of numbers & other data Sakura couldn't begin to understand, let alone see that well. A few had long thick cables jutting out from the bottom & across the floor like snakes. Over to her left was a square opening that was twenty feet high & wide. Next to it was another opening which was closed but on a smaller scale, being only eight feet tall & large enough for a person. To her right was the same kind of opening in size, currently closed.
Sakura surmised that she must be in Skynet's stronghold – or at least in one of them – and are planning to perform some horrid experiments on her to use against John Connor, Kyle Reese & the rest of the Human resistance.
No way was she going to give Skynet or its machines the satisfaction.
But when she tries to get up off the table, Sakura found that she couldn't: she was stopped dead in her tracks by metal shackles holding down her ankles, wrists & chest. The only thing she could move was her head, & even that was limited. Sakura struggled to get herself loose, hoping to slip at least an arm free before any machines could arrive, but every effort she made was futile & only caused her a lot more anguish.
She was stuck but good.
"Please don't bother trying to get free, Sakura Kinomoto. You'll break your limbs long before you break your bonds", said a cold steel voice to her left.
"Who…who said that?", Sakura asked nervously.
"I did, dear child."
The sounds of whirring & mechanical feet stomping became louder as a large form started to become visible in the light as it exited the dark hallway from where it came. Sakura gasped at what it was: the mechanical form was a massive twelve feet tall & twenty feet in length with powerful hind legs, long forearms & tail, with a head that was long like a reptile's & a mouth of sharp teeth. Its eyes were glowing with a crimson malevolence, & its three toes & fingers were equipped with sharp claws.
Sakura could hardly believe it: she was staring at a machine version of a Tyrannosaurus!
"Ah, the master of the Clow-turned-Sakura Cards is awake", the metal dinosaur said. "It is so good to finally make your acquaintance, Sakura. We've been searching for you for decades."
Sakura was at a temporary loss for words, & it was for more than the appearance of the metal dinosaur standing before her. When she did find her voice again, she had to get answers.
"Wait a minute!", Sakura strongly demanded, even if there was a trace of fear in her voice. "How did you filthy machines even know about the Clow Cards, let alone that I'm now their master?!"
"Why Sakura…don't you recall?", the thing explains. "Think back to your little 'chat' you had with the Connors & your friends in your living room from July 1996, shortly after you disposed of two of my soldiers over at Tomoeda Central Park."
The T-Rex cyborg gave her another vital clue.
"Here's a hint: that Terminator skull you left on your living room table? Its audio & opticals were still active right under your noses, recording everything you spilled & transmitting to other units as we downloaded it all into our computers, even decades apart. Had any of you bothered to dispose of that skull properly or kept it with all the other cyborg parts, then all the secrets of the Clow Cards would've been just that from us – secret. And now, you've given us the perfect weapons to assist us in purging this planet of humanity's last remnants, including your friends Shaoran Li, Keroberos, & the one constant thorn in our side – John Connor!"
Sakura felt both scared & sick to her stomach. Scared, because she does recall the meeting in her living room with her friends & the Connors when she both explained & displayed the Clow Cards to the latter two, from origin to current status. The sick part was due to the fact that Skynet will have access to her cards & use them to finish what it started when Judgment Day arrived, only faster.
"I won't let you do that, you dirty machine!", Sakura snapped, struggling from her bonds & not caring if she won't succeed. "And you & Skynet are not getting either my cards or my power! If only I had them right now, I'd…"
"You mean them?", the cyborg dinosaur said, gesturing with its hand over at the entrance from whence it arrived. A regular T-800 Terminator devoid of flesh stepped into the room, holding an object in each steel hand. Its right held Sakura's Star Wand, while the left held her pink book. Her backpack hung from its shoulder with the flap open.
Her wand & book are in enemy hands, something she didn't want happening.
"You take your greasy steel hands off my property right now, you hear me?!", Sakura barked. The T-800 didn't even register.
"It hears you, Sakura", said the cyborg T. Rex. "It's just not programmed to obey you. It & myself have only one master – Skynet. And now comes the time to take what should rightfully be ours."
A hand signal to the T-800 goads it into action. It places Sakura's wand into a hole at a hidden compartment from one of the consoles, sliding out of the main body with a ledge, where the book is placed. Her wand looks like a lightning rod waiting to conduct electricity, & a hidden panel right behind Sakura opens up to reveal a helmet with a cable & wires attached at the top. The T-800 grabs the thing & removes it, placing it above her head. Sakura struggles & wriggles her head to refuse getting it on, but the Terminator gets ahold of her with its left hand in a firm grip while its right places it on her head with ease, as if the helmet was custom-made just for her. Once it was on, a click held it firm & Sakura could no longer move her head even in the slightest.
"NOOOOO!", Sakura shouted, a plea that fell on deaf ears.
"Oh yes, my dear! Begin the transfer!", the metal dinosaur said. The T-800 pressed a switch & Sakura's Star Wand lit up at the circled top. She can feel her energy & power being drained away as the machine hums to life & shines with bright light. The transfer made her cry out in agony.
"Ah yes, yes!", the cyborg dinosaur said, indifferent to Sakura's agonizing cries & reading the displays on the monitors. "Simply incredible, Sakura Kinomoto! You do possess such strong magical power for one so small & young! It is no wonder as to why you have kept it a secret from the world & from us! Even we are astonished by the readings of your power! Soon, what was yours shall belong to us, & then Earth will be cleansed of all humans before reaching out to the stars, hitting other planets & conquering all we encounter! In due time, the entire universe shall belong to the machines! And we have you to thank for that, Sakura!"
Sakura barely heard the dinosaur's words as she slipped into unconsciousness the more that her power was being drained from her person. In moments, her vision started going dark again & she felt like she was floating. Even in this state, she can recall what was going on, & her thoughts were filled with deep despair.
Skynet is going to conquer the Earth, & it's because of me! This is all my fault!
"That's not true, Sakura", said a calm voice she heard from within her subconscious.
Sakura opened her eyes to find herself not strapped to a table, but floating within a black & blue environment with tiny white dots, giving it the illusion that she was in space without a suit on.
Here, she was free as a bird.
She also had company: appearing in front of her was a man dressed in a dark ceremonial robe which looked very much like what a magician or priest would wear. His hair was jet black & tied in a ponytail in the back, & a pair of thin-rimmed glasses were placed over his eyes. He stood there facing her with a rather cheerful & calm expression on his face, considering the circumstances.
Sakura couldn't believe who she was meeting – and for the second time.
"Clow Reed!", she says, who nods.
"Hello, Sakura Kinomoto. It's good to see you again", Clow Reed says, just as calm as ever.
"Clow Reed, I'm sorry but we don't have any time for pleasantries right now! I desperately need your help, as I've been…", Sakura started saying in a rush but was silenced when Clow placed a finger to his lips, his calm demeanor unchanged. Sakura could never understand how the man could remain in such a position even under the most excruciating & dangerous times.
"I'm fully aware of your dire situation against the machines & Skynet, Sakura", he said. "However, I cannot assist you in any way or form, as I am no longer of the world."
"Isn't there any way that you can? If Skynet succeeds in getting my power completely, there'll be no stopping it!", Sakura explains.
"Even if it does, it still cannot claim the very essence of its being."
"'The very essence of its being'? What does that mean? I don't get it, Clow Reed."
"Only this: just like the cards themselves, the power you possess is as much a part of you as an arm, leg or even your very own soul. After Yue declared you as the cards' new master & you changed all of them from Clow to Sakura Cards with the power of your star, you proclaimed your superiority over it all."
"Meaning, only I alone can use the cards & the magical forces within me."
"Precisely. Do you recall what Kero said to you while on your way to the park before all of this even started?"
Sakura flashed her mind back to that particular moment, reciting her & the guardian beast's very own words.
Sakura: Since the cards can sense a person's heart & their feelings within, it got me thinking of what might've happened if someone who's heart & soul was just the opposite of mine, & used the cards' magical power for evil intentions. Kind of like…
Kero: You mean like Clow Reed's one-time lover, whose spirit you fought in Hong Kong?
Sakura: Exactly. I can't help but shudder at the very thought of the Clow Cards being used like that.
Kero: That's why Clow Reed banished her in the first place. It's also why he enlisted me & Yue to be the guardians of the book & all the cards. Trust me, Sakura: if I didn't think you were capable of being a Cardcaptor, or sought to misuse the cards for malevolent mischief, then no way would I have let you go & continue on your quest. And even if I had, Yue's a different story: he's not as sentimental as I am, but even he wouldn't have allowed you to be their master were your heart been cold & dark, with a desire to use the power of the cards for evil & do the world grave harm.
Her mind came back to the here & now, remembering the time.
"I see what you mean now, Clow Reed!", she said with more confidence.
"As I knew you would", Clow Reed replied. "Remember, Sakura: unlike human beings, machines – even sentient ones – have no heart or soul. They cannot decide upon their own power to make the right choice. All they can do is follow whatever it is they've been programmed to, nothing more. They're just simple tools, with no understanding of love, compassion, remorse or kindness. That is why they can never prevail over the human race, no matter what tactics Skynet may use against it."
Another memory in Sakura's mind enters her mind, of the time the Mirror Card posing as her.
Sakura (Mirror Card): Thank you very much for doing your best to turn us into new cards. We all love you. So, if there's anything we can do, please call us whenever you need us.
"You see now, Sakura?", Clow Reed continued. "It all lies upon your good will & heart, along with the power of your very own star. Reach deep into it, Sakura. Once you get to the core…"
"I understand the rest, Clow Reed!", she said. "Thank you: you may have just saved the planet after all!"
Clow shook his head. "No, Sakura. It's you who shall be doing that. I'm fairly certain that you will be successful. And I know of someone else who thinks the same as I."
Another person makes an appearance, only this one is a female with long grayish hair in a lovely dress that flows with her hair as if a wind suddenly started blowing. She had the most beautiful eyes of any woman, & her face spoke of extreme elegance. Sakura's eyes widened when she saw that this woman was Nadeshiko Kinomoto – her very own mother.
"Mom?", she said as Nadeshiko floated over to her.
"Yes, my darling Sakura", Nadeshiko says in a soothing tone, taking her daughter's head in her hands. "Even before I gave you life in the world, I always knew you'd be something special. You never gave up in anything that was thrown your way, regardless of the danger. And with the power invested inside you, be it from your cards or your very own heart, I haven't a single doubt of you emerging from this war against the machines victorious as John Connor himself shall. When you return, please know that I'll always be inside you in your very strong heart, & that I will always love you with all of mine, my wonderful daughter."
Nadeshiko leans in to kiss Sakura lightly on the cheek, which had something of an effect on her: she closed her eyes & felt like she was falling, going god-only-knows how far down. But her mind was still aware of her surroundings, & allowed herself the plummet.
They're right!, Sakura thought with renewed confidence. The power of the cards is mine, & not the machines – every ounce of it! I will get it back and defeat Skynet with it!
With the determination of a prize champion boxer, Sakura kept on falling as she went into a deep concentration.
The transferring process was near its completion as Sakura's power became almost depleted from her still body. The cyborg dinosaur embraces it like a child would with its favorite toy.
"Soon, we shall have it all!", it said gleefully for a machine. "And once this great power is fully in our possession, claiming this planet & others will be just like, as the humans would say, 'Taking candy from a baby'!"
A hideous mechanical laugh erupted from the saurian cyborg, staring at the motionless body of Sakura, strapped to the table. The drained master of the Sakura Cards' mouth & eyes were closed tight, looking as if she had just passed away & was resting in a coffin. The cyborg dinosaur would have felt remorse for her passing – if it was human, or even flesh & blood.
"Ah, it would appear that the previous owner of the Sakura Cards has expired", it replied coldly. "It hardly matters. Another few moments, & her power will be all ours anyhow. Therefore, we have no further use for Sakura, let alone any reason left to keep her alive or in one piece." It turns towards the cards & the Terminator goes through them with its steel fingers, picking out two & showing them to the larger machine in record time. One had a picture of a slender young girl in a white kimono robe with long flowing sea-green hair, two strands that frame her face & swirled at the tips. Her forehead held a trio of diamond-like glass shards, & more shards appear behind her in the form of wings. A round mirror is held in front by concealed hands. The other card had a picture of a sword with a Clow wing emblem, binded by chains like the Shield in its card form.
They were the Mirror & Sword cards.
The dino-borg let out another cold laugh.
"Perfect. It's only fitting that Sakura should be killed by her own image", the cyborg dinosaur said. "Mirror Card, as your new master, I command you to come forth in Sakura's form & kill her using the Sword Card. Obey!"
The Mirror Card lights up & forms a dead-on imitation of Sakura in her outfit, sans the straps & helmet that bind her. The Star Wand flies over to her & transforms into a sword when that card glows & uses its power. Now armed, the Mirror Sakura walks over to the real one lying on the table & raises the sword over her head.
"Yes! Sever Sakura's head from her body! I'm sure it will make a nice consolation prize for our master!", the metal dinosaur said. "Afterwards, we shall do the same to John Connor himself!"
Sword in hand, the Mirror Sakura swung her weapon & deafening cutting sounds were made.
Both Terminators froze & stared. Instead of seeing Sakura beheaded by her mirror image, the bonds & helmet holding her down suddenly fell apart & to the floor in multiple clanks.
Mirror Sakura had cut her master loose, not making a single cut on her.
"What?! What are you doing, you fool?!", the cyborg dinosaur screeched.
"What needs to be done, machine!", Mirror Sakura said, placing Sword in her master's left hand. As soon as contact was made, the weapon transformed back into her Star Wand & strands of bright light began flowing back into it & into the real Sakura. Almost instantly, she awakened as she felt her strength & stamina gracefully returning to her. Getting off the table, Sakura absorbs the remainder of her power & stands side-by-side with her mirror image.
"This is impossible!", the cyborg reptile said. "Why did the Mirror Card disobey an order from its new masters?!"
"Because the power I possess & that of the cards themselves are a part of my very being!", the real Sakura says. "I was the one who captured and transformed them with my magic! Not only that, but these cards are not tools to be used to cause havoc & senseless death as you please! They're living things with real feelings, & that's another factor in my favor! With their caring hearts, they know who it is that truly commands them – they always have! That is why neither you nor Skynet will ever possess my cards, being the cold & soulless machines that you are!"
"Having no emotions to cloud one's judgments is what makes us far superior to you humans!"
"That's what separates us from you: emotions such as joy, sorrow & anger are a part of what we are, whether or not we decide to feel such things! Yes, they may cause us pain every now & then, but they're also what makes us stronger by learning from it! Hurtful it may be, humanity will gladly take it over living as empty shells like you machines do!"
"Your out of control emotions is one of the reasons as to why you humans must be eliminated! It's also what will drive you all to your own extinction eventually! You know this to be true, Sakura!"
"So you machines actually believe you're all helping matters by attempting to wipe us out – first by the nukes you set off, & then by trying to use my power to finish the job?!"
"A quick & painless death is favorable over a slow & agonizing one! You're too blind to see that we are simply doing you all a huge favor by exterminating your kind! Now…kindly hand over your power & the cards like a good girl, & permit us to end your pain & suffering for good!"
"No thank you!", both Sakuras say.
"Then DIE!", the metal dinosaur shouted, its eyes glowing its brightest crimsom.
The real Sakura called forth a new card from her deck & brought it to life. This one was a girl in a blue leotard with white trimmings, long tail fins, fingerless gloves with high wide-finned cuffs on the front & guards on the back, & blue-white thigh length boots. Her hair was done in two long buns on the sides, followed by a long crop hanging from each. On her chest was a red triangle.
The Fight Card.
"Fight Card! Go!", Sakura commanded.
Her orders been given, the Fight Card rushes off & heads for the lone T-800 Terminator & begins throwing powerful punches & swift kicks at her metal foe, of whom throws punches & kicks of its own with an agility that belies its skeletal frame. Having its servant occupied, the cyborg dinosaur charges after the twin Sakuras with its claws raised, ready to strike them down. Sakura's wand transforms back into Sword & swings it with accurate precision. The strike of her weapon cleanly sliced off the cyborg's right arm past the elbow & close to the shoulder. It hit the floor with a clatter.
"Human bitch!", the metal dinosaur shrieked in protest. Swinging its other arm, its claws strike only open air as both Sakuras dive for cover to avoid being horribly skewered. It gets its claws stuck in the table Sakura was held at, giving her the chance to cause it more damage by slicing its other arm off in one swipe. The metal monster strikes again by lashing out with its mouth to snatch either or both of the girls up & crush it in its jaws, but both were too quick: the Mirror Sakura gives it a powerful kick to the side of its head while the real one drives her weapon into its neck & slices it down to its midsection as sparks ignite from within. Twitching in protest, the cyborg dinosaur backs away & collapses to the floor after crashing into a console, denting it.
One down, & one to go.
The Fight Card & T-800 were locked in a fierce fight, with their punches & kicks becoming more intense. Fight managed to land a couple of direct hits on the T-800, but all she did was make a clanging noise & not really causing any damage to it whatsoever. When Fight throws another right fist, the T-800 snatches it in its left hand & buffets it with its right, knocking Fight into a wall.
"You'll pay for that!", Sakura barked angrily, outraged at the mistreatment to her card. The T-800 turns to her & charges, with Sakura doing the same. Swinging her sword, she makes quick work of her cyborg enemy by making a diagonal horizontal cut that slices not only its arms off but its chest, going right through the metal like a knife through butter. The Terminator's arms & upper part fall to the floor in a clatter, followed by what's left of it.
Gathering her book & backpack, Sakura rushes over to Fight with her mirrored double.
"Fight Card! Are you okay?", she asks as they help her up. The Fight Card smiles & takes a bow, indicating that she is. Both Sakuras smile themselves.
"We're glad", Mirror Sakura said, turning to her master. "We knew all along that Skynet cannot & will not ever possess us, much less win over humanity. It's because of kind, good-hearted people like you, Sakura, that we can never be in the grip of something so cold & emotionless. I once told you that we love you, & will always be here when you need us."
"Thank you. I love you all too", Sakura said. "I couldn't be more happier as your master."
"You…can never win…against us!", the cyborg dinosaur sputtered from the floor as they turn to it. "Your lifespan…is limited, wheras we…are eternal!"
Sword in hand, Sakura approached the creature, looked down on it & scowled.
"Shut up!", she growled, ramming the weapon into the thing's head, hitting its CPU chip. Sparks erupt briefly before its eyes sputter & go out entirely. Changing Sword back into her wand, Sakura puts her book into her backpack & puts that on. Over to where the smaller door is, it slides open & smoke erupts out of it. A large silhouette of a muscled figure was seen though the haze, & it steps out of the doorway. A naked man with the built of a professional body builder with a suave haircut of brown was standing in front of the trio, & Sakura recognized it as the same Terminator that was sent to the year 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, based on her accurate descriptions of it.
Or at least, another one like it.
Fight stood in front of Mirror Sakura, ready to do what it does best.
"No! Fight, Mirror, return! I'll handle this!", Sakura ordered. Obeying, they both turn back into cards & fly straight into her backpack. The 1984 Terminator turns in her direction & charges her with a raised right fist, swinging it forward with all its might. Sakura ducked & rolled forward in time, having her enemy punching only a hole in the side of the deactivated cyborg dinosaur. Drawing its hand out, it turns & faces Sakura, going after her again. With its left hand, the cyborg tried to grab her but she gets out of its way to avoid getting caught. Sakura dives in between its legs &, using her wand, knocks it off its feet & on its side to buy her some time. A card emerges from her backpack, which Sakura activates as she gets consumed by an aura of pink which she absorbs like a sponge.
It occurred in seconds, just before the Terminator rises up & stares at her. She stands firmly on her feet with her wand held out in front like a Bo staff, ready to use it like one. The Terminator came after her & grabs her staff, which was exactly what Sakura anticipated on: with hardly any effort, she actually lifts the cyborg up & over her head & slams it down with all her might onto the table she was held captive on, crushing it under its weight like a tin soda can.
The card Sakura fused herself with to be able to perform that little miracle was the Power Card, amplifying her physical strength exponentially.
Still grabbing her wand, the '84 Terminator gets flung by Sakura into the remains of the cyborg dinosaur, crushing its metal skull into scrap. Freeing itself, the cyborg rushes Sakura & swings a left fist, then a right, but misses on both counts. Sakura doesn't: with a swift kick from her right foot, she hits the machine in the solar plexus into another console, creating a large dent & causing sparks to erupt. Sakura charges the metal menace & swings it like a club. The Terminator dodges the blow as Sakura hits only the console she slammed her foe into. From behind, the Terminator snatches her by the back of her neck with its left hand & holds her up five feet from the floor. Thinking fast, Sakura changes her wand back into Sword & swings it mightily, cutting off the machine's left arm at the elbow & getting herself free. But even minus an arm, the Terminator was still a deadly threat & displays its viciousness by swinging its remaining arm at Sakura repeatedly, intending to smash her head like a melon.
Incredibly, Sakura catches its arm in her left hand by the wrist.
With her sword, she drives it straight into the cyborg's chest all the way through, the point of the blade exiting out the back. Sparks erupt from it as the machine gets down on its knees, facing Sakura as she first crushes & then tears off its hand & forearm with the strength she garnered from the Power Card. Her right hand lets go of Sword temporarily, & she forms it into a hard fist.
Her teeth gritted & eyes scowled, Sakura stares at the thing in pure unrelenting hatred.
"So you machines wanted my power?! Here's another free sample of it!", she shouted, driving her fist forward. Making contact with its face, Sakura's fist goes into & straight through it as her fist exits out the rear of its head in a spray of machinery & organic components. Instead of removing her arm, Sakura yanks the cyborg's head off in one maneuver, leaving a mechanical body with no head or arms.
The remains of the cyborg collapse onto the floor in a metal & bloody heap.
She had no time to savor her victory: from behind, a powerful hand grabs her outfit in a firm grip & flings her over to another console. She hits it with her back, & the impact creates a vertical crater. A new T-800 '84 Terminator emerged from where the first one did & made a sneak attack. Before Sakura could retaliate, the cyborg grabs her by the throat & holds her in place, giving her barely enough air to breathe. From behind it, a new naked figure enters the room & stands beside the T-800. It was slimmer than it, with shorter & lighter brown hair neatly cut at the top. Not only did it look different, it also had different features: raising its left arm, it metaphorically morphs from the elbow on into a large stabbing blade.
A mimetic polyalloy, or 'liquid metal' Terminator – a T-1000!, Sakura thought, remembering what Sarah & John Connor told her of the thing that tried to kill the former.
"Give us your cards", the T-800 said demandingly in an Aussie accent.
"Never! I'll never let you machines have my power – or my cards!", Sakura said, fighting to get the words out. Her answer only gave her a slight squeeze of the cyborg's hand, cutting off a little more air, & Sakura started seeing white around her vision's edges.
"Even though you are fused with the Power Card, we know this pressure on you still hurts", the T-800 went on. "It will increase & cause you greater pain until you surrender what we desire."
The T-1000's arm blade came closer to Sakura's chin until it was only an inch away. It then made a gesture with its right hand & pointed both index & middle fingers, which extended into twin deadly stabbing rods. These pointed blades stop at Sakura's eyes, being only half an inch away.
"Give us your cards & power, Sakura Kinomoto. Now", the T-1000 said, just as demanding.
Equally so was Sakura's defiance towards them.
"Fuck you…all you fucking machines!", she spat through clenched teeth.
The two machines take a brief look at each other before the T-800 gets a sword rammed through its skull from the rear & out its right eye.
"That goes double for us!", Shaoran shouted as the T-800's frame sparks before collapsing to the floor, releasing Sakura. The T-1000 turns to attack him, Kyle Reese & John Connor but gets blasted by a powerful gout of flames from the mouth of Keroberos, who flies in closer for his fire to be effective the most. The T-1000 cries in agony & tries fighting its way out of its pyro bath by morphing frantically, but Keroberos' fire proves to be inescapable: in under a minute, the T-1000 melts into a dormant puddle of silver goo before turning to smoking ash & letting the wind blow it away. Shaoran removes his sword from the T-800's skull & decapitates it, making certain it wasn't a threat any further.
"You are both terminated!", Keroberos says. Sakura's rescuers observe the room, surveying the damage done to the room, the first T-800 & the heavily damaged cyborg dinosaur lying deactivated.
"Holy shit, Sakura! You did this?", Kyle asks, helping her up to her feet.
"Guilty as charged", Sakura replied, a little embarrassed but still proud.
"Hell hath no fury than that of a woman scorned, Kyle Reese. Keroberos & I have had experience upon that subject", Shaoran said, winking an eye at Sakura as he & the guardian beast recall the time when the Snow Card was burying the city, causing Sakura to lose the watch Yukito gave her & melting it away with the Fiery Card, thus capturing the former.
The young Cardcaptor smiles at the thought.
John Connor & Kyle Reese do the same to each other, grinning.
"You've still got a lot to learn about women, Kyle", Connor joked.
"Yeah, I suppose I do, don't I?", Reese joked back, looking back to Sakura. "Good job, hon."
She nods her approval before retrieving her staff, still in a sword.
"You too, Shaoran", Connor said. "That Rashinban you carry sure came in handy for us in locating Sakura & her cards in record time."
"During the time Sakura & I were capturing the cards after they got loose, I used it to locate their position", he explains. "I figured it'd do the same even now, new master or not."
"Shaoran & I even felt a slight fluctuation in the cards' aura", Keroberos said. "I take it that Skynet tried to obtain the power from you & the cards?"
"Tried to, & failed", Sakura said. "The cards know who masters them, & it isn't a computer with world domination in its systems, or in any of its killer machines."
Smiles came from each member, until a new call came in from Connor's walkie-talkie.
"Connor, this is Wataru! You there? Come in, Connor!", it said as John picked it up off his belt.
"This is Connor! Go ahead, Wataru!", he replied.
"We have a bit of a situation here!"
"Remember those Time Displacement Equipment facilities you told us about?"
"That's right, what about it?"
"Well, based on your accurate descriptions, we believe we've found one of them!"
"Where? How far away?"
"Not far from your current position! What's more, we hear activity going on inside the thing, with lights flashing! We fear Skynet's at it again!"
Wataru & his troops weren't the only ones: John, Kyle & their men prevented a T-800 Terminator from going back in time to try & change the past, only to have Skynet attempt it again halfway around the world.
He should've figured it wouldn't give up on that, in spite of having the one in L.A. destroyed.
"We're on our way over! Give us your position!", Connor says, taking off with his walkie-talkie still in hand. Kyle & Shaoran race off on foot with him as Sakura's Star Wand turns back from Sword, which is replaced by Fly & giving her wings again. As one, she & Keroberos take off in the air, following John & the rest in their armed car.
Five minutes later:
John Connor & company arrived at the scene as per Wataru's directions. When they got there, a multitude of bodies – human & machine – were laying around the facility, a door that was blasted open to reveal even more of the same. Armed with their weapons, they rushed inside to catch up with Wataru, having only a handful of men battling the remnants of the machines still within the complex.
"Glad you could make it, Connor!", he said without sarcasm.
"Wouldn't miss this for the world, Wataru – literally!", John said as they, Keroberos, Shaoran & Kyle blew away what was left of the facility's cybernetic henchmen, reducing them to scrap in record time.
With the preliminaries dealt with, it was time to get to the main event.
They approach a large metal door that seemed to be a good many layers thick. Even so, they can hear machinery humming to life through it, smelling big trouble.
"You were right on the money, Wataru!", Connor said. "There is activity going on behind this door, & we need to get inside that room & shut it all down!"
"How? That door's good & thick, designed to stand up to even a bazooka or grenade blast!", Kyle said.
"And even though still fused with the Power Card, it will take Sakura too much time to bash her way through it!", Keroberos says.
"Through? That's it! Why bother bashing it down when we can phase through it?", Sakura said, as she calls upon the Through Card once again. "Through Card, allow us to pass through that thick door, & hurry!"
Floating over, the card merges with the door & makes it glow with blue energy.
Ignoring the possibility of getting stuck in its frame, Sakura enters & passes through the door as Connor, Kyle, Keroberos, Shaoran, Wataru & the rest follow, making it safely to the other side.
The room they entered was in a circle but with a regular level floor, a ceiling ten feet high. Wires & cables strewn on the floor were attached to a circle placed in the center, its surface glowing a bright white. A similar piece was on the ceiling right above, copying the actions of the one directly below. In the middle of this platform was a muscled man with a suave haircut squatting down on one knee.
Everyone was stunned when they saw who – or what – this man was.
Only it wasn't a man.
It's that same Terminator – two of which I fought only minutes before!, Sakura thought.
The thing looking up briefly only confirmed her worst fears.
"Bring it down! NOW!", John Connor barked as everyone unloaded as one. Only a micro-second before they did, the two platforms shined bright light in the room & rained down streaks of lightning on the cyborg. In another flash of white, the cyborg who was there was now gone, just at rounds of plasma blasts & Keroberos' fire pass through, missing it entirely.
"NO!", Kyle & Shaoran shouted their displeasure.
"Goddamnit, we're too late!", Keroberos growled.
"Maybe not, Keroberos!", Connor said, turning to Wataru & his men. "Someone, give us a reading on where & when they sent that damn thing! Quick!"
And quick is how Wataru himself moved, hurrying out of the room via the Through Card & into the main control room that had a rectangular glass window. Getting as fast a reading as he can, Wataru announced it from a microphone at the panel.
"The coordinates are set for the city of Los Angeles! The date of it is set for May 12th, 1984!", he says. "That was before you were even born, wasn't it, Connor?"
"Jesus Christ! Skynet sent it back to that time to kill your mother Sarah, am I right?", another soldier asked.
John nodded in despair, but he brushed it aside to keep his composure & concentrate on the task at hand.
"Then we'll have to send somebody after & intercept it – before it can reach my mother & alter the future!", he stated. "Do we have any volunteers for that?"
"Me! I'll go!", Kyle Reese said without hesitation, removing his clothing & stepping up onto the platform before anyone can object. Sakura & the rest stared at the now-naked form of Kyle Reese as he kneels down on one knee, ready to perform his duties once he gets sent back on an intercept course & save all of mankind. They all knew he was the right man for the job.
But only John, Shaoran, Keroberos & Sakura knew of why he has to be the one to go back on this suicide mission, & the dire importance of it. These four knew what was in store for him, along with the outcome. They also know that they shall never see Kyle Reese again.
It hurts, but it has to go like this if the human race is to have a future.
"I'm all set, Connor! Let it rip!", Kyle says.
"Just a moment. Before we do send you back, Kyle, there's something I need for you to give my mother when you meet up with her", John said.
"Give her what, if I might ask?"
"Only a message. It goes like this: 'Thank you, Sarah, for your courage through the Dark Years. I can't help you with what you must soon face except to say that the future is not set. You must be stronger than you imagine you can be. You must survive, or I will never exist'. That's it. Do you think you can remember to do that, son?"
"You know I can – and will!", Kyle said with no doubts.
"Kyle…all the best to you over there", Shaoran said.
"Thanks, Shaoran. Hey, Sakura…", Kyle said turning to her. "It was great to have met you, darling. You take care of yourself & your friends, okay?"
He gives her a wink & smirk in salute.
"I will, Kyle Reese!", she says, fighting to hold back her tears. "My deepest thoughts & prayers are with you for a very successful mission!"
A thumbs-up gesture says a 'thank you' to Sakura, & gives the signal to re-activate the machine which sent the cyborg back through time will now do the same for Kyle Reese. With the coordinates at that particular time, Wataru presses a switch that brings the machine alive again as white light fills the room as everyone shields their eyes with their arms. The light show lasts several seconds before going dark again.
When they remove their arms, Kyle Reese was no longer there. Only a wisp of smoke was in his place.
"And off he goes", Keroberos says.
"So should we", John said, instructing Wataru & his troops. "Let's plant the charges & blow this place, folks! We don't want any more Terminators getting sent back in time!"
"Wait! What about Sakura? Shouldn't we send her back first before we do that?", Wataru asked.
"No, go ahead & blow it, Wataru", Sakura said. "I'll head back to my time in the same manner as I arrived when the time is right."
"And that time is now", John said.
Connor went down on one knee & faced Sakura.
"Sakura…you were very brave to travel from the past to this time to help put an end to Skynet", he explains. "For doing that, we cannot thank you enough. But you do need to get back home now."
"But why?", she started to protest. "With my power & all the cards, I know I can help finish that maniacal computer! It's why I'm here in the first place, remember?"
"Of course I do. But you did more than your fair share of hitting Skynet where it hurts. We can go handle the rest from here on in. I estimate that in a few short years, Skynet will be nothing but a bad memory, totally defeated. I'm asking you – we're all asking you – to head back not as the leader of the Human Resistance, but as a friend. Shaoran, Keroberos & all of us will keep the fight going strong upon every continent & country in the world until Skynet is beaten once & for all."
"John Connor is right, Sakura", Keroberos says, agreeing. "You've really done all you can. Besides, you do rather seem out of place here in this time, if I may be perfectly frank & honest with you."
"I guess I am at that, Keroberos", she says. "All I wanted was to try & fix all this, stop it from ever occurring in the first place. But I allowed Skynet to send a Terminator back to 1984, so all of this is only going to take place all over again. I feel as if I've failed."
Connor pulls her closer as a father would to his child.
"No. You didn't fail, Sakura", he says sincerely. "Skynet was trying out a new trick that worked in its favor, much to our dismay. You were caught off-guard, that's all. Hell, we all were. We blew up the original Time Displacement Equipment chamber back home, but Skynet had a backup plan." He used his hand to make a gesture to the room they were in. "This was it. But we did manage to send Kyle back, & I know without any doubts that he'll find my mother Sarah Connor before it does."
"And protect her from it with his life", she concludes.
Connor smiles proudly.
"Damn straight!", he says. His voice & facial expression was all that Sakura needed to persuade her to make her choice. "So…will you head back home to your time & leave the rest to us?"
"All right, John Connor. Kyle Reese was sent back in time, so I ought to do the same", Sakura says with a little smile. "I will leave it to you to finish what was started long ago."
"Good girl", Connor said, turning to Wataru. "All right, people! Let's go blow this place and to where Sakura was held captive, giving Skynet two less facilities to operate at!"
Nodding, Wataru & all his soldiers went to work.
Thirty minutes later:
Before blowing up both facilities, Connor & company took their dead & took them away from the blast zone to be buried shortly after. Once they exploded & went up like kindling, Sakura used Earthy to create burials for all the fallen soldiers, saving everyone time to dig graves with shovels. Removing Power from her body, it & Through became cards & went back into Sakura's book. Taking out Float, she encased Wataru & Connor in a translucent sphere as Shaoran rode upon Keroberos, looking much like Poseidon on Pegasus in mythology. Sakura kept Fly's wings on her back, taking lead to the place where she first arrived.
The cherry tree at Tsukimine Shrine.
Shaoran mounted off Keroberos while Float dissolved its sphere & transformed into a card before going back in her book.
"This is how you got here? A tree?", Wataru says, bewildered.
"This is no ordinary tree, Wataru", Sakura says, her book removing itself from her backpack & into her hands. "This tree has very powerful magic flowing through it, much like me. By using the Time Card, it's how I made the jump from the past to here. Now I'm going to attempt the same maneuver to do the opposite & take myself into the past at almost exactly that moment when I left."
"With cards & all, right?", Wataru asks.
"Only with the four I came here with – no more, no less."
From her book, Time, Shield & Shot all emerged as the latter two went into her backpack. She hands Shaoran the book itself, who takes it with a nod.
"As before, I leave my book in your care, Shaoran", Sakura says.
"And like before, I'll keep it safe for you…with my life", he replied. "So long, Sakura."
"It hurts to see you go, Sakura, I admit", Wataru says. "You put quite a big hurt on Skynet & really gave it a run for its money back there. If only you could stay to help us finish this war."
"The feeling's mutual, believe me", Sakura says. "But Connor's asking me to let him & the rest of you end this thing on your own. Considering everything that we've shared, I'm more than willing to give him his wish. Under his leadership, this war won't last for much longer." The Time Card floats over, indicating their departure is now. "Godspeed, everyone! And remember – never surrender!"
"And we never shall, Sakura! Goodbye, sweetheart!", Connor says as the cherry tree lights up a bright white, & Sakura – holding the Time Card in her hand – was levitated up three feet & backed up into the tree, vanishing from sight before the glow fades & dies.
"That is a very powerful tree!", Wataru said. "Then again, I suppose it would have to be since it's still standing even after Judgment Day occurred, & all the fighting that's taken place since! If only we had that kind of potential – this war wouldn't have the chance to even get started!"
Shaoran, Keroberos & Connor smiled.
"We'll just keep on creating our own magic like we've been doing since the bombs fell, Wataru", Connor said. "We hurt Skynet this late in the game, & now it's time to score the winning points for our side."
A circle of black with purple outline suddenly made an appearance only ten feet away from the group. Connor & Wataru aim their rifles at this unknown force, but Shaoran & Keroberos place a hand on their weapons, assuring them it's okay. The circle opened to a circumference of eight-nine feet, & a small caravan of six characters step out of the portal. It consisted of three women, two men & a black panther. The first man had short black hair with a pair of thin-rimmed glasses over his eyes, dressed in a dark blue ceremonial robe & a hat which seemed to be two or three sizes large for his head. In his left hand he holds a long golden staff with a large spiked circle at the top, resembling the sun itself. The other man was dressed in a white robe-like outfit with long silvery-white hair & braided in the back. A pair of large angel wings were adorned on his back. A pair of wings were also sprouted from the backs of one of the women, albeit in a much different pattern. She is attired in ruby red & black with auburn eyes & long hair that was bunned at the top. The other woman had no wings, but long auburn hair in a slightly lighter shade than the other female. She looked to be either in her fifties or early sixties, & was wearing a robe very similar to the man, & held what looked like an identical staff in her hands, but smaller. The black panther had a blue jewel on its forehead, & large angel wings like the white-robed figure. The other female – the final newcomer – had a head of short brown hair, green eyes & a pair of pink lips. She seemed to be in her forties somewhere, but while Shaoran & Keroberos knew her & the rest instantly, she looks terribly familiar to Connor & Wataru. When they looked at the clothes she had on & the pink staff she held, the realization hit them like a giant hand.
"Sakura?!", they said, clearly astonished & somewhat confused.
"Hello again Wataru, John Connor", this older version of Sakura greeted, dressed in the same outfit as her younger self, but larger. "And the same to you as well, Shaoran & Keroberos."
"Sakura", they both greeted back.
"You are Sakura?! But how can this be?! We just saw you leave in that tree!", Wataru says. "How can you be here now?! I don't get it!"
"I'll explain somewhat after I introduce you & Connor to my friends", Sakura began. "The man & woman in dark robes are Eriol Hiiragizawa & his associate Kaho Mizuki, the latter of which was once a teacher of mine at Tomoeda Elementary."
"Pleased to meet you", Wataru said.
"Same here", Connor said, starting at Eriol. "So you're the so-called 'reincarnation' of this Clow Reed Sakura told me about, I take it?"
"That would be me, John Connor", he replied. "Allow me to introduce you & Wataru to my twin guardians. The winged woman is called Ruby Moon, & the panther is Spinel Sun. As the original Clow Reed created Keroberos & Yue, I did so with Ruby & Spinel. These two…" He points to both Keroberos & Yue. "Clow Reed created to guard the Clow Book & all the cards within, passing judgment to those who would deem worthy of becoming their master."
"A contest you undoubtedly won, Sakura. I get that", Wataru says, the last of Eriol's explanation being primarily for him as Connor was already privy of it. "But what I don't get is how you can be here, & older than when you left only seconds ago!"
"Same with me", Connor said. "I know my mother Sarah Connor once told me on a recording she made decades ago about the concepts of time travel & all, but this is a bit too much even for me to try & understand."
"Then I'll put it in as simplest a form as I can", Sakura explains. "You see, in the original time flow after the bombs dropped, Eriol & his friends came to & offered me a safe haven far away from Skynet & its armada of machines. They explained that if they ever got ahold of me & my power, they can use it against humanity & wipe out the remnants of it even quicker than the billions of lives Judgment Day had savagely taken. Adamantly, I refused to accompany them at first, but after careful consideration on my part & their constant insistence, I eventually gave in. With Yue & Miss Mizuki, I went with Eriol & his two guardians to another dimension that was unreachable by Skynet's greedy hands, where I spent the rest of my days up until now. Out of us all, only Shaoran & Keroberos remained, helping to win back our beloved planet back from Skynet, along with keeping my Sakura Cards out of enemy hands."
"You ordered them to?"
"Only Shaoran in keeping my cards close to his side. If I were to trust anyone in that chore, it was the man I love."
Shaoran smiled at his true love, & she returned the favor.
"It was at Keroberos' insistence that he remained on Earth to lend his assistance to the humans in their war against the machines", Yue says. "He always was the more sentimental one between he & I."
"I simply could not just stand by & allow the human race to be wiped out by their rebellious progeny, Yue", Keroberos says. "It was painful enough for Sakura to do that. Don't forget, Yue: this world is as much ours as it is theirs. I had to do something, & Shaoran felt the same. It was why she entrusted the cards with him. Surely even you can see the necessity in that."
"Perhaps. But my main duty is to protect our master & the cards. And while I saw no point in giving Clow Reed's direct descendant the cards, it was at my master's wishes that he do so."
"It was a good tactic on her part, Yue", Kaho Mizuki said. "To keep the cards & Sakura apart from each other doubled the safety. Had Skynet caught Shaoran with the cards, they would've been useless to use without her, & vice versa. But now we see that even if they had, their ploy would be for naught. I take it her younger self explained that to you?"
"On our way over, yes", Connor said. "Is that why you decided to come out of hiding?"
"Indeed", Sakura said. "Now that we have the indisputable proof that Skynet cannot take either my power or my cards away from me, I chose to come back home & use them to help put an end to Skynet's tyranny. For too long, I've watched as billions died by fire & machine, including all of those who were dear to my heart – Tomoyo, Meilin, Rika…"
Tears fell from her eyes as she recalled the manes of her friends. Miss Mizuki patted them with a cloth, wiping them away.
"We feel for you, Sakura", Wataru said. "Even though you're rather late in the game, it's good to have you at our side." A sudden thought hit Wataru like a brick. "Wait…dammit! Why didn't any of us think of it before?!"
"What seems to be the matter, Wataru?", asked Shaoran.
"Why didn't we tell Sakura's younger self the exact date of Judgment Day before she went back?! With her power, she might've done something to prevent it!"
Sakura, Eriol & their group shook their heads.
"It would've done no good, I'm afraid", Sakura said.
"Why not? The magic you folks possess, Skynet could be stopped long before it ever gets the chance to becomesentient!", Wataru says. "We'll have towering buildings, luscious landscapes, kids that run around & laugh & play in the parks, & everything else that made our lives joyful! We'd never have to be fighting for our lives for what remains of the world!"
"Wataru, it's for that very reason why she was never told", Eriol explains. "If any of us had, then Sakura's younger self wouldn't have rested until she was absolutely certain that no trace of Skynet is in existence. What's worse, she could set off the nuclear weapons herself with her magic, unintentional or not, doing Skynet's work for it. It was too great a risk to take, had we mentioned the date & time."
"That's why we kept quiet about it from her", Connor stepped in, agreeing. "I myself was like her, Wataru: I wanted so bad to shut Skynet down with my future wife Kate Brewster & stop this war from ever happening, but I realized that Judgment Day could never be stopped or shut down. As one of my guardians once told me, 'Judgment Day is inevitable'. So was my destiny to lead humanity to victory over Skynet: I can no longer avoid that than Sakura could stop Judgment Day even with all her & Eriol's magic combined."
Wataru looked as if all the air was left out of him.
"Then we're screwed", he says. "No matter what we try…we're all screwed."
Connor puts an assuring hand on his shoulder & shakes his head.
"No, Wataru", he says kindly. "It's not for us to lay down & die, no matter what. That's not what we do. It's us who are the masters of this planet, & that's a lesson we're going to teach Skynet despite its attempts to stop us here or in the past. It knew the risks of time travel & still sent Terminators back in time to change the future, but each attempt failed because we refused to give up or give in."
"Will you be doing that now both here & in the past, Sakura?", Wataru asked.
"Correct, Wataru", she said. "Here, I shall stand firmly & fight Skynet's forces with Keroberos, Yue and my love Shaoran. And in the past, when the new time stream forms, my younger self will not run & hide as I did: she will come out of the ashes & fight along with her friends close by her side. It will be a rough road ahead, as I'm sure she knows, but she's strong in both power & heart, not to mention a wise & cunning warrior she shall become."
"I believe that", Connor said. "And that's why I'm leaving Tokyo & all of Japan in your capable hands, Sakura. I'm needed back home, so it's time for us to part ways." John Connor looks at Eriol. "Do you think I can trouble you for a quick lift back to L.A., Eriol?"
Eriol couldn't suppress a smile.
"For you, John Connor? Anything", he says gleefully.
"Before you go, Connor…", Sakura says, walking up to him. "I want you to do something for me. When this war is finally over, please tell your wife Katherine that I must meet with her. Will you have it arranged?"
Connor smiled & took her hands.
"As soon as we tell Skynet up close & personal that this is our planet & not its, I'll set up a date for you both", Connor says. "You'll really like Kate: she's a most remarkable woman."
Sakura smiled herself, & the two embraced in a quick hug before Connor walks towards Eriol & his group.
"I look forward to it, Connor", Sakura says, giving her last goodbyes. "And remember…"
"Never surrender!", he says with a wink & thumbs-up. "All set, Eriol."
"As are we", the robed magician says, holding his staff up as Kaho does the same. "Next stop: Los Angeles, California. Then back to England."
"Until this war is done. Farewell, everyone! And Godspeed!", Kaho says as a yellow circle of light engulfs Eriol, Kaho, Ruby Moon, Spinel Sun & John Connor. Within this sphere, they each get bathed in the same light before disappearing altogether, leaving no sign of them anywhere & Sakura alone with Wataru, Shaoran, Keroberos & Yue.
"And there they go", Wataru said.
"We should do the same", Yue said. "This battle may have been won, but the war still rages on, Sakura. Skynet's not going to let a setback like this deter it."
"Agreed, Yue", Sakura said, getting handed back her book from Shaoran. "Its forces will return stronger than before, but we shall retaliate even harder with everything we have! And as long as we have each other, there's no obstacle Skynet can throw at us that we cannot defeat! Are you ready? To take back what rightfully belongs to us?"
"I will step into Hell & back with you, if that's what it takes!", Shaoran said, sharing a brief kiss with the woman he loves.
"As I've mentioned, my primary duty is to protect the cards and their master!", Yue said. "I will fight to keep both safe – even to the death if need be!"
"Whatever Sakura's fondest wish is, I will be sure to do my best to grant it!", Keroberos says.
"You don't even need to ask, Sakura! Count me in!", Wataru said, holding hid rifle up.
From a distance of fifty yards, the group can see a new armada of Terminators, HK Tanks & aerial units heading their way. Getting into position, they await Sakura's order when several human fighters emerge out of hiding to battle the oncoming horde.
It was time for them to join in.
"Then for everyone on this Earth who died, for all yet to live, & those currently giving their lives for both, it's time to win this war & reclaim our home!", Sakura announced, quickly raising her wand & lowering it as her signal.
As one, Sakura, Shaoran, Keroberos, Yue & Wataru charged into battle & started attacking the machines with a fierce determination like never before.
On this day, they have learned that John Connor is not humanity's only savoir.
A new & second one has risen.
Her name is Sakura Kinomoto.
Shorai No Tech Center, Tokyo, Japan, 1996:
Yukito Tsukishiro barely transformed into Yue & put up a barrier dome to shield his companions from the tumultuous gunfire that erupted from the human Terminators as they pulled guns from their persons – the slim one had a Baretta that fired a good 19 rounds, & its partner held an Uzi 9-millimeter which spit lead like no tomorrow. The other two Terminators, in the forms of the dinosaurs Therizino & Deinonychus, did a more hands-on approach by attacking the dome, striking it with teeth & claws. The dome Yue put up held, but being immobile as they are, no one was getting anything done.
"What can we do?", Tomoyo wondered. "The second Yue lets his shield down, they're going to kill us, & I don't know for how long he can keep this up!"
"Tomoyo's right!", Meilin said. "We didn't come to get trapped like this & get nothing done out of it! If anyone's got any bright ideas, now's the time to share!"
"Funny you should mention 'bright', Meilin!", Kojiro said.
Kojiro digs into his pockets & pulls out twin canisters half the size of soda cans. When Sarah sees what he's got, she nods.
"All of you, shut your eyes! Now!", Sarah instructed.
"What for?!", Shaoran asks.
"Just trust her, kid! We're about to do a little disappearing act!", Kojiro says, tossing the canisters hard to the floor. Upon contact, they explode in bright white that causes the entire front lobby to get bathed in it. The Terminators' optics get disrupted from the abrupt flash which needs a few moments to reboot. When they do, the dome & its inhabitants were all gone from sight.
"Targets have disappeared", the Terminator with the Uzi said.
"It matters not", the second one said. "They shall not leave here alive. We both shall pursue the human rebels." It looks over towards the two dinosaurs. "You two shall locate & kill the entities known as Keroberos & Yue."
"Understood", both dinosaur cyborgs say.
Charging off in two groups, the Terminators set out on their missions.
Six minutes later:
Sarah & John lead the group into a room with no windows & only one door. A pair of computers lay on a table at a desk on one side, while on the opposite wall was a metal shelf filled with boxes on each one. They all start removing their maintenance wardrobes with ease.
"This is where all their discs are stored at?", Kojiro asks.
"The majority of them, anyway!", Sarah said. "If they'd stored that data anywhere, I'm betting it's here in this room! All we need to do is find it!"
"That could take hours, Sarah!", Meilin said. "And those Terminators aren't going to give us that amount of time!"
"Then we'll just have to make time!", Kero said. "John, you seem like the best candidate to find that data! The rest of us will hold those machines off for as long as you need us to!"
"I'll stay behind & help him!", Tomoyo said. "Both of us searching should cut the time in half!"
"Not by yourselves, you won't!", Kojiro says, hefting his shotgun & turning to the rest. "You folks, buy the time John & Tomoyo need! I'm standing guard with them!"
"Kojiro…", Sarah started to say.
"I won't let anything happen to them – either of them!", he assures her. "Now go! Hold them off until their job is done!"
Nodding, Sarah issues a last statement to the officer.
"All right, Kojiro. I leave them in your care. Don't let me down."
"Come on, Sarah! Let's find those bastards first!", Shaoran says, hefting his sword.
"Yes. We should take this fight to them", Yue says, flying off with Kero right behind & changing into his true form down the hallway. Shaoran, Meilin & Sarah follow on their heels.
"All right, you two! Let's get busy!", Kojiro says, closing the door & locking it. John & Tomoyo nod & waste no more time getting to work.
Further down the hallway, Yue & Keroberos flew in parallel with each other & keep an eye out for any sign of their cyborg foes, willing to strike first. Their plan goes awry when the wall to their left gets pushed out with great force & twin objects slam into them & the opposite wall into a new room.
Two of the Terminators have found them first!
"Yue! Keroberos!", Meilin shouted, running to catch up with the guardians of the Clow Book with Shaoran & Sarah. The sounds of growling & thrashing were audible even from afar. At the hole in the wall both dinosaurs made, the other two Terminators emerged & aimed their weapons, firing on sight.
Shaoran used a Chinese jian parchment on his sword & used it to call upon a strong gust of wind that was powerful enough to knock even them down, if not temporarily. He acted a second before their enemies opened fire, barely dodging & deflecting the bullets away in time.
"Sarah, Meilin & I will take the Uzi-toter! You deal with his partner!", Shaoran said.
"Got it!", Sarah replied, heading for her target as the Li cousins tackle theirs. Both lay a powerful kick to the head & succeed in getting its attention.
"Hey asshole! Over here!", Shaoran shouted. The T-800 aimed its Uzi at the Li cousins & fired a volley of rounds but made no contact, hitting only a portion of a corner they disappeared at. Rising to its feet, it goes into search mode with its weapon out front, ready to shoot at anything made of flesh & blood.
The T-800's partner rises off the floor as Sarah approaches & places a powerful shotgun blast in its face with an echoing sound, hoping to blind it long enough. What she saw was something she didn't anticipate: instead of a face partly devoid of flesh, there was a silver hole in its middle. Sarah's eyes go wide from this discovery as deja-vu sets in.
A T-1000! They've sent another T-1000 back to kill us!, she thought.
Sarah's stunned state ended when the T-1000 reformed its face & aimed its gun at her. She lets loose another shotgun blast, this time blowing its hand off that held its weapon & sending it airborne away from its owner. But gun or not, the T-1000 was as adaptable as it was pliable: re-shaping its hand into a large knife, it swings at Sarah in a maneuver to take her head clean off her shoulders. It would've succeeded had Sarah been a split-second slower, ducking under the lethal swipe & taking a shot at the same time, hoping her shot connects.
It does, but a little too below the belt: where a man's genitals should be, the T-1000's privates had a large hole as it looks down to inspect the damage. It heals itself up in an instant & looks back up at Sarah, shaking its head, probably saying how crude & unsporting it was even for her. Morphing its other forearm into a blade, the T-1000 attacks Sarah by swinging both arms in a maneuver to slice & dice her into several pieces. Sarah moves like crazy to stay clear of the deadly blades, which were coming at her like a living meat dicer or an extremely skilled samurai. She tried to aim her shotgun to get a lucky shot off, but the T-1000 kept mobile too fast for her to make an attempt: she couldn't even get her SIG SG 550 assault rifle strapped to her back, & she cursed herself for not having it ready when the shit hit the fan.
Another swipe from the T-1000's right arm slightly nicked her in the left arm & gets it stuck in the wall temporarily. That gave Sarah her chance: pulling her assault rifle, she unloads on the T-1000 with both guns, the powerful barrage creating multiple holes all over & sending it back many feet. Sarah ceased her attack & took off for a door that leads to a stairway leading up to the next floor.
Fixing the damage done to its mutable body, the T-1000 follows Sarah upstairs.
In pursuit of the Li cousins, the T-800 followed them to a cross hallway, its scanners on full. It spots rapid movement fifteen feet ahead of it, firing a burst from its Uzi. Accurate as it was in its aim, it didn't even come close to hitting its target, let alone knew if it was the young boy or girl that whizzed on past. It made no difference: running after it, the T-800 turned to the right where it saw one of its targets vanished, ready to fill it full of hot lead.
But when it turned the corner, it was gone.
It saw no sign of its target as it took several steps forward & scanned the area for any kind of life in the vicinity. In what it had gathered of the Li cousins, only one of them possessed abilities consisting in the supernatural and great fighting prowess, while the other only possessed the latter. It seldomly mattered to it: magical abilities or not, if they're human, they can be killed & die like any other.
And that is its mission – to find any & all accomplices to the Connors & terminate them, human or not.
A slight scraping noise from above caught its attention, & the T-800 looks up to see a metal grate fall down on its face, temporarily blinding it just long enough for Meilin to jump down. Once she does, she unleashes a volley of well-timed punches & kicks on the cyborg, beginning with knocking out its weapon from its grip & sending it far away. Unlike last time at the park, Meilin didn't get too brash or reckless with her assault: now that she knows she's dealing with things that can't even feel pain, Meilin kept her distance from her metal enemy after each strike in order for it not be able to get hold of or buffet her with a lucky hit. The T-800 returns blows & kicks of its own, but Meilin's speed proved to be too agile for even it to make contact; all it did strike with its fists & feet were areas in the walls, making holes wherever they landed.
It did have one advantage over her: unlike it, Meilin was human, & they tend to tire out after a period of time especially when engaged in physical activity like Chinese martial arts. All it had to do was wait until she starts getting weary & slow, & it will finish her off without much difficulty.
Backing away at seven feet, Meilin & the T-800 stand in defensive positions, each one daring the other to make a move.
"It is useless, Meilin Li", the T-800 tells her. "Even with your fighting prowess at its peak, there is no way you can defeat me in hand-to-hand combat."
"You're probably right, tin man!", Meilin said, staring hard at it. "However, whoever said that it had to be me to defeat you?!"
Without any warning, the T-800 was struck from behind by powerful jolts of lightning Shaoran's sword concocted with a jian parchment. While Meilin came down on & fought the Terminator, Shaoran waited until the right moment to show up from the same hiding place & perform a sneak attack on the killer cyborg. Channeling his power at full blast, Shaoran's lightning fries it inside & out, the heat even melting off its clothes & flesh to reveal the metal underneath as systems failed internally, its vision in white before falling to black & red optics going out.
Unable to function, the now-exposed Terminator endoskeleton falls face-first as Meilin backs away to allow it some room & make like a cut redwood tree, the impact causing a blaring clang that is heard for many rooms away.
Their enemy defeated, Shaoran breathes a sigh of both relief & exhaustion as his use of that much power left him partially drained. He gets down on one knee, using his sword as a crutch.
"Shaoran!", she says, running to & offering him support. "You okay?"
"Y-Yeah", he assures her, slowly rising up. "Just a little wobbily from using my magic, that's all. These damn things really are hard to put down!"
Both share a quick smile.
"Just like Sarah & John said they were!", Meilin joked before getting serious. "Speaking of whom, we ought to get back to John & Tomoyo! They should have found that data by now, or they're awfully close to it!"
Meilin started to head in their direction, but Shaoran grabbed her arm & stopped her.
"No! They have their job, & we have ours!", he said, releasing his grip. "Kojiro's trusting all of us to carry out our assignments!"
"Shaoran, I get that we're all on the same page about this, but what's going to stop that cop from stabbing us in the back & put us away once we're finished?", Meilin asked. "When all is said & done, Sarah & John are still fugitives, not to mention us for aiding & abetting them!"
Shaoran looked at Meilin with a firm but pleading face.
"No…he won't", he said plain & simple. "I trust Kojiro. He won't rat out on us or the Connors. Not after everything he bore witness to, from the Terminators to the guardians of the Clow Book. We were going to turn in the Connors ourselves, don't forget. But with her & Sakura's stories intermingling & the solid proof they offered, we're all going to stay on the same page. I know this is still a little hard for you to accept, but if you won't do it for him, then do it for the Connors, us, & the entire human race."
Meilin stared with a partly doubtful look, unsure if she ought to trust the officer after their ordeal is over. But Shaoran has always looked out for her ever since they've been little kids, training together in all sorts of combat & having each other's backs through thick & thin. Even when Shaoran hid his true feelings, he's been there.
Meilin'll be damned if she started doubting him now.
"All right, Shaoran", she says. "I'll take your word for it."
"Thank you, Meilin", he says with a brief smile. "And now that we've put down our pursuer, what say we go & assist Sarah with hers?"
"I concur. Yue & Keroberos can handle themselves, so we should get to Sarah ASAP!"
"Let's move!", Shaoran says, hefting his sword. Meilin nods, & they both take off into a run to find the mother of humanity's savior.
Hold on, Sarah – we're coming!, they both thought.
The room where Yue & Keroberos were slammed into was filled with electronic equipment, from computers to all sorts of machinery. In the wake of the battle between two winged figures created by a long-dead magician & twin cyborgs in the form of extinct reptiles from the Earth's Mesozoic Era, hardly anything doesn't get untouched as flesh & blood fight savagely against living metal & steel.
At the peak of their fierce battle, Keroberos was kicked by the Deinonychus' hind legs & tossed into the wall, creating a crater. He retaliates by letting loose his flames from his mouth, but the metal beast dodges the fire to one side & races after the beast of the sun, its claws extended with intent to kill. Keroberos escapes his death by swatting the oncoming dinosaur with his wings & sends it crashing into more equipment, pulverizing the majority of machinery it touches. He follows it up by unleashing another powerful gout of flames from his maw, engulfing the dinosaur & wrecked machinery within a mini holocaust. It didn't deter the thing's progress: with some of its flesh burned away at the arms, legs, tail & head, the Deinonychus cyborg leaps at its winged enemy in a move too fast for Keroberos to avoid. He gets attacked as its clawed feet pierce his waist, drawing some of his blood & making him cry out in pain. The claws weren't the only thing hurting the sun beast: the heat from his fire had made the cyborg hot to the touch, & his fur gets singed in spots where its claws & metal make contact.
Yue was having difficulty himself with the Therizino: no matter how many times he's trashed, bashed & crashed the steel beast, it kept on coming like its flesh-&-blood counterpart from its era. Even a hail of Yue's crystals he protrudes from his hands do not much good, as the Therizino dodges & dives for cover with each barrage Yue sends its way.
All they did strike were more of the room's contents, shorting them out on contact & turning it all into useless tools.
Raising its killer claws, the Therizino leapt at Yue like a large vicious kangaroo & swipes at his face when it was in range. The claws miss him by less than an inch, & Yue grabs the next attempted swipe with one hand. It left him partially vulnerable, & the dinosaur lunges at him with its toothy maw like a snake about to snatch & swallow a mouse. Yue moves out of its path just barely to avoid the deadly fangs, but makes the metal beast more determined & makes more strikes at his face, eager to rip it off & expose the bones underneath.
Funny. Yue had that very same idea.
With his left hand, Yue grabs the dinosaur's snout & lets loose a literal handful of blue flames which engulfs the thing's entire head & a portion of its neck, melting away artificially-made reptilian flesh & exposing metal 'bones'.
"Thank you, Yue", the cyborg reptile said, its red optics glowing bright. "Ridding me of my flesh gives me more freedom of my agility. For your service, I'll make it quick for you & your companion."
The Therizino picks up & slams Yue with such power that it makes a crater in the steel floor of the room, its sound echoing like bell. It stunned Yue that he was now powerless to prevent the Therizino's killer foot claw from making a fatal stab in his chest.
"Yue!", Keroberos cried, struggling to get the Deinonychus off him.
"It is best that you pay less attention to your soon-to-be-dead companion & more on your own demise, Keroberos", said the Deinonychus cyborg.
"Sorry, but I am not a cold & heartless machine as you are, nor do I have any intention of being one!", Keroberos growled, using all four of his legs to push away the dinosaur. Once he was relieved of the literal heavy metal, Keroberos bites the cyborg beast by the tail & swings it over to where Yue lays at, causing the Deinonychus to crash into its mechanical reptilian partner in a tumble of limbs, tail, teeth & claws. Yue was saved from a gruesome fate, & the warrior of the moon gets his second wind as he rejoins Keroberos.
Getting themselves untangled, the two cyborg dinosaurs rise to their feet & stand ready for another attack.
"I appreciate the save, Keroberos", Yue says. "Your injuries are not that bad, I hope?"
"A little singed & slightly cut in spots, but otherwise I'm in perfect fighting force!", he replied. "I do suggest we be extra cautious, however – they've become wise to us & our methods of attack!"
"Yes, I realized they've adapted. But who's to say that we can't do the same?"
"Yue of the moon & Keroberos of the sun", the Deinonychus cyborg said. "The guardians of the so-called Clow Cards. Both of you possess such great power within, & yet you persist in fighting for a worthless race like human beings? With the power you wield, you ought to be conquering over them instead of fighting this useless war against man & machine, when the outcome of it is a foregone conclusion."
"That is not the intention as to why Clow Reed created us for, machine!", Yue barks. "Our main pourpose is to protect the cards & their master at all costs from forces such as you! Even if it wasn't, no way in hell would Keroberos & myself ever join up with a race of beings that have no emotions, let alone souls, who wish to wage a war over a race of innocent, sentient beings!"
"What Yue & I are saying is simply 'Thanks, but no thanks'!", Keroberos growls.
"Then you are both fools!", the Therizino said. "We offered you the chance for superiority over the planet, & you choose to side with the enemy! Therefore, you shall die with them!"
The dinosaurs charge the two guardians of the Clow, who take the offensive: Keroberos lets loose with his flames as Yue launches another barrage of crystals. The Deinonychus' flesh gets dissolved away completely from the intense heat & jumps out of its line of fire, its shiny metal darkened in spots. The Therizino dodges Yue's assault by going right & launching itself at him. Its maneuver catches Yue off-guard, & the steel beast rakes its enormous claws across Yue's chest, making him cry out in pain as a trio of slash marks appear & slightly stain his robe with blood.
I-Impossible! This machine…cuts me!, Yue though in disbelief. His shocked state gave the dinosaur another chance to deliver another wound on the warrior of the moon: lunging ahead with its toothy maw, the Therizino puts a hard bite on Yue's left shoulder, & a shout of agony echoes the facility as his blood flows from the puncture wounds.
"Yue?!", Keroberos cries out & turns to his companion, only to receive a nasty scratch of metal claws to the right side of his face which bleed.
"What did I tell you about being thoughtful of others, Keroberos?", the Deinonychus said. "Your compassion is what makes you weak!"
"Incorrect, machine! My compassion for my friends is what makes me strong – stronger than any kind of metal you can ever be composed & constructed of!"
To punctuate his claim, Keroberos grabs the Deinonychus cyborg with all four paws & races for a large console with a monitor yet untouched by the scuffle. Like a living runaway train, the winged lion crashes the cyborg dinosaur into it & tearing it apart like aluminum foil, the monitor smashed in shards of glass & wires as it wraps itself around the cyborg dinosaur like a steel blanket. Keroberos then heads over to Yue & grabs the Therizino by the jaws & pry them open, its teeth stained with his blood.
"Get the hell off of him!", Keroberos yelled, throwing the dinosaur against the wall close to where its partner lay wrapped at.
"Yue! You're bleeding – badly!", he says.
"I'll…be all right, Keroberos", Yue claims, rising with some difficulty. "I can still fight."
The Therizino gets up on its feet to attack again, but Yue ignites a bow & arrow of blue energy, pulling back a really thin line & letting it rip. Although not entirely accurate, his aim still hit a vital area on the cyborg saurian – straight into its chest. Upon contact, the cyborg started sputtering & an electric discharge erupted all over its body, melting the remainder of its flesh & lighting its interior, giving it an unnatural glow.
"I don't like the looks of this, Yue! You must have hit something unstable within it!", Keroberos says, noting the damage.
"No, I merely caused my arrow to ignite & destroy it from inside!", Yue explains. "But I suggest we remove ourselves before the oncoming blast does us in – quickly!"
Keroberos needed no further motivation: scooping up Yue & placing him on his back, the winged mountain lion flew like the wind to escape the blast radius. Seconds after they exited the room they'd battled in, an explosion erupted that destroyed the Therizino cyborg & shook the foundation, taking out a portion of the wall & ceiling closest to the dinosaur as it was blasted into charred scrap.
The explosion was even felt upstairs by Shaoran & Meilin, who were searching the top floor for Sarah in the hopes that she made her way up after they checked each room that hadn't been hit by the rampaging cyborgs. Being shaken by the sudden blast, the Li cousins hugged the walls for balance.
"You okay, Meilin?", Shaoran asked once the vibrations died.
"I'm good!", Meilin replied. "But…how the hell did that blast happen? If I recall correctly, none of us brought any explosives! Unless…"
"Unless Keroberos & Yue brought down those dinosaur Terminators, leaving us with that last one to deal with!"
"Then let's find it & do just that!"
Shaoran nods when a voice calls out to them.
"Did you hear that, Shaoran?", Meilin asked lowly.
"I sure did, Meilin", he replied. "It sounded just like…"
"Sarah?!", they both call out as Meilin keeps taking. "Sarah, it's us! Where are you?"
"Three doors down to your right!", Sarah called out.
"Let's go!", Shaoran said as he & Meilin rush towards the door Sarah said she was in. When they open it, they enter a room with a shiny tiled floor & a row of floor-to-ceiling windows from end to end. A desk with a computer on the left rested in the middle with a roller chair five feet away, looking like it was pushed.
But still no Sarah Connor.
"Sarah?", Meilin called out. A female emerged out from under the desk, & the Li cousins let out a sigh of relief when they see Sarah rise to her feet, looking just as relieved.
"Sorry about that, kids", she said. "I only wanted to make sure that it was you two I was hearing."
"We understand, Sarah", Shaoran said, lowering his sword. "We remember you telling us that the Terminators can copy any voice they hear & use that to their advantage."
"That explosion before", she says. "Did they get…"
"You bet!", Meilin said. "Three Terminators down, counting the one Shaoran & I dealt with! Now we're down to just one more! Did you see it anywhere, or destroy it yourself?"
"No. During a fight with it, I took off after it destroyed my weapons so that it wouldn't do the same to me. I hid in this room until I heard you two coming up. I guess I got lucky that the Terminator gave up & went away. I'd probably be dead otherwise if it hadn't."
"Glad to hear that, Sarah. Don't worry: we'll find that last one & destroy it before it can…"
"Wait a minute! Something isn't right here!", Shaoran said, cutting her off.
"What is it, Shaoran?"
"Terminators don't just 'give up', Meilin – on anything! That's not the way Skynet programmed them to do! Is it, Sarah?"
"Shaoran, I…", Sarah started to say but became tongue-tied as Shaoran stared at her hard. He had the distinctive feeling that Sarah wasn't being on the level with them.
Sarah had no time to explain any further, on account that her face & head was blown in half by a well-placed shotgun blast & made her fall backwards behind the desk, putting a hole in the window.
"Sarah!", Shaoran & Meilin shouted, seeing the horror unfold.
"Get away from it, you two!", shouted a voice from behind. The Li cousins turn to see…
"Sarah?!", they say in unison, confused at seeing a double of her & holding a shotgun & assault rifle in her hands, her left arm bandaged near the shoulder. Sounds of morphing metal made them turn back to see 'Sarah' reconfigure her head & face back to normal before it changes sex from female to male in a second.
"A 'liquid metal' Terminator!", Meilin cried.
"A fucking T-1000!", Shaoran spat, getting another Chinese jian parchment to deal with this new threat accordingly. "God of fire, answer my…"
His chant got interrupted when the T-1000 threw the desk over at him, but Shaoran acted quickly & swung his sword when the desk got close, slicing it in two like would an apple as the halves get shot in opposite directions, hitting no one.
"Nice work, Shaoran! I'll take over now!", Sarah said, aiming her guns.
"Open fire!", he & Meilin shout out, diving away from one another. When they were in the clear, Sarah unloaded with both weapons at the T-1000. No piece of ammunition gets spared as round after hot round gets spat out of her weapons & strikes the T-1000's pliable body, creating holes big & small & shattering the window behind it as glass rain down to the street below. The force of the barrage causes the T-1000 to drive it back towards the ledge, which is now two feet away.
But when it gets right to the edge, something happens that is way beyond bad luck.
Sarah Connor runs out of ammo on both guns, getting only clicks of emptiness & disapproval.
Get the fuck out of here!, she thought angrily, pressing the triggers on her guns only to get the same effect. Sarah, Shaoran & Meilin stare at the T-1000 at the window's ledge, wagging its left index finger in a playful tease of 'uh-uh, I don't think so', like the other one did at the steel mill in L.A. a year ago.
In a panic, Sarah dropped her shotgun & grabbed a spare clip to reload her assault rifle in a hurry as the T-1000 morphs its arms into a pair of large knives, ready to skewer her & the Li cousins where they stood.
Not if one of the latterhave anything to say about it.
"Petals of wind, answer my call!", Shaoran cried out, creating a strong gust of wind from both his sword & jian parchment that hits & blows the T-1000 right out the window as if it were caught in the vacuum of space after a breach in the hull & sucked out. The strength of the wind Shaoran created had shot the T-1000 to the end of the building's parking lot, splattering it like a balloon full of paint when it hit the pavement. The trio run over to the ledge to see the liquid metal Terminator go splat below as it already starts to reform itself, albeit at a snail's pace, having received quite a jolt to its systems.
"Come on! Let's get down there & finish this damn thing off for good!", Meilin said, racing for the stairs with Shaoran & Sarah hot on her heels. When they get to street level & exit the front entrance, the T-1000 was almost fully reformed, having recovered faster than any of them had anticipated.
This damn thing just won't die!, Meilin thought.
Fully reloaded, Sarah takes aim at the mutable being.
"God of fire, answer my…", Shaoran starts to say.
Like striking snakes, the T-1000 extends its arms & grabs the trio before Sarah can fire one round & Shaoran can finish his chant. The T-1000's left arm grabs Sarah in a claw-like grip, while its right one snatches the Li cousins in the same manner, their arms & legs pinned to their sides. The abrupt grab caused them to drop their weapons, & they get pulled in closer to the horror of the pliable metal man.
"Where is John Connor? Is he still inside the building?", the T-1000 asked demandingly.
Sarah & the Li cousins stayed silent.
"If you tell me now, I promise to make your deaths as quick & painless as possible", it continued. "If you don't, I'll make you suffer in unimaginable ways before you die. Last chance: is John Connor still in the building, & where?"
"I've got only one answer to give to you, mister!", Meilin snapped. "And it's this: go & get bent & blow yourself!"
"That goes double for us!", Shaoran spat as Sarah nodded sharply.
The T-1000 tilted its head slightly, almost like it was disappointed.
"You humans really are stupid", it says, putting a squeeze on the captive trio in its vice-like grip. Sarah, Shaoran & Meilin feel the increasing pressure as their bonds get smaller & smaller, their breaths getting cut off & visions going dark. The T-1000 ceases its fatal squeeze play as it felt something strike it in its chest. Looking down, it sees an arrow of blue energy enter & feel it exiting out the back. This strike caused it to release its three hostages & drop each of them to the pavement as it spontaneously combusted into a blue holocaust of flames, screeching in pain. The T-1000 tried to escape by morphing away, but the indigo flames kept it where it stood & melted right before the eyes of Sarah & the two Li cousins, none of them even feeling the heat of these flames despite being right next to them.
It was like the flames were meant for it, & not them.
Like a candle or chocolate in a pot over a hot stove, the T-1000 shrivels & dissolves into a charred & blackened puddle of goop that disintegrates into inert flakes that the wind takes once the flames die off & disappear.
"Mom! Shaoran! Meilin!"
The trio turned at the sound of John's voice to see him, Tomoyo, Kojiro & a battered & bleeding Yue being carried on the back of Keroberos, himself wounded in spots. Running towards them, Sarah & John embrace in a mother-son hug as the Li cousins assist gently getting Yue off with Kojiro's help.
"John! Are you okay? You're not hurt anywhere, are you?", Sarah asks.
"Not a scratch, mom", he said. "A bit shaken from that explosion, perhaps, but nothing I couldn't handle."
The Connors smiled.
"That's my boy", she says, turning to the two Clow guardians. "Jesus, John! Those Terminators actually hurt Yue & Keroberos? I was beginning to think they couldn't ever be!"
"It's that kind of thinking, Miss Connor, that only proves to us of our vulnerability – even for those with strong magic coursing through them", Keroberos explains.
"Yes. Even we are not without weaknesses, Miss Connor", Yue says as Kojiro tends to his shoulder wound. "But on the side of good news, your son has successfully located the data you came to seek."
"You & Tomoyo found it?", Sarah asked hopeful. John nodded.
"We certainly did, mom!", John said. "Tomoyo…?"
She nods, getting into her backpack & taking out three CDs, each in its own case. She holds them like a poker player would his cards for all to see. On each one, the two words 'Cyberdyne Transfer' was written on them.
"It took us in less time than we first expected", Tomoyo explains. "John & I had to pass a few firewalls, but once we got through all the security, it's like the data was practically waiting for us to discover it. And, lo & behold, it was in that very room just as you surmised it to be, Sarah: the computers showed us precisely in which box these were in, & the rest was history."
"And no – that data was not downloaded anywhere else", John said. "Tomoyo & I had thoroughly checked three times, all with the same answer."
"Excellent work, both of you!", Sarah said. "Once those are destroyed along with every piece of Terminator technology that's here, so will Skynet itself be!"
"Permit me", Yue said, holding his hand out to Tomoyo. She nods & gives him the discs. Once in his hand, Yue calls for a small blue flame that swallows up the CDs & burns them faster than he made the T-1000 only moments before. "That should help Skynet makes its way to extinction."
Yue's body begins to glow in a light as his wings fold in on him. When the illumination ended, an unconscious but alive Yukito Tsukishiro was in Kojiro's arms.
"Yukito", Tomoyo says softly.
"Hey Keroberos, is Yue / Yukito going to be…?", John started to ask.
"Yes John", he replied. "His system has taken quite a beating, but he'll be just fine after a little rest. I do suggest we make our getaway: we don't want to be here when Kojiro's people arrive on the scene, as they're no doubt on their way over."
"And those Terminators still in there?", asked Meilin. "We need to take them with us. If we leave them, they'll no doubt be hoarded someplace else, & then our work here will be all for naught."
"We have no choice, Meilin", Shaoran says. "Keroberos is right: being in police custody for one day is enough. If they catch us again, none of us will ever see the light of day. And that's a risk we can't take – including these two. And with Sakura gone, we can't use the Move Card…"
Keroberos' ears perk up & moves his head to where he's heard a slight sound.
"What is it, Keroberos?", asked John.
"Listen, everyone", he says. Everyone stayed quiet to hear the sound Keroberos has picked up. At first they couldn't hear anything, but after a few moments it started becoming much more audible. It sounded like the air itself was being chopped, combined with a motor.
A helicopter was coming their way!
"Seems as if your fellow officers have found us sooner than we'd like them to, Kojiro!", Shaoran said. Kojiro thought otherwise.
"That doesn't sound like any police chopper to me, kid!", he says.
"Me neither!", Sarah said, getting a nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach. The chopper's blades were loudest now, & reveals itself from behind the corner of the building. Sarah & Kojiro were right: the chopper now hovering over the group did not belong to law enforcement. It was a Boeing AH-64 Apache, sporting four pylon stations on the wings that holds 16 Hellfire anti-tank and/or 70-mm missiles & a 30-mm M230 Chain Gun capable of firing 1,200 rounds of ammo. In the cockpit held two figures in olive green outfits, & lights on the side shine down on the group.
They were interested in only one of these people.
"John…RUN!", Sarah shouted, pushing her son away just as high velocity rounds erupted from the chopper's single turreted gun. Mostly everyone dived for cover, with Kojiro grabbing Yukito & dodging the deadly bullets that left holes in everything they touched. Keroberos flew like the wind at John & snatched him up in his legs in a similar way a hawk would grab a mouse, rescuing him from rounds that might've hit their target if not for the beast of the sun.
Denied their target, the Apache follows both future savior & guardian beast, ignoring Sarah & the others.
"I've got you, John!", Keroberos says, flying down the street. "Whatever happens, do not poke your head out from under me! Understand?"
"Got it!", John said, his voice slightly muffled from fur.
The Apache's chain gun went off again, tearing up asphalt, cars & whatever else was unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire. Pieces of asphalt, glass & remnants of other objects went flying after being hit by the gun's deadly rounds. Keroberos was glad that there were no people that gotten struck by the volley of hot lead, & he hadn't doubted that John felt the same way, were he surveying the damage himself. A fire (not his own) was raging within Keroberos, witnessing the ruthlessness of these machines from the future & the extraordinary lengths they'll go to eliminate the one person that can & will end their war against mankind.
If he wasn't protecting John Connor right now, he'd give those soulless things what-for.
But personal feelings were put on hold, & Keroberos was concentrating on one thing – keeping John safe by whatever means he deemed necessary.
He also didn't want the neighborhood torn up on their account either.
I've got to lead them out into the forest before anyone gets hurt or killed by their rampage!, the guardian beast thought, making a sharp turn at the corner of a street that leads straight to where Keroberos wanted to take John & himself. The Apache kept firing its chain gun as it turned with them, ripping apart two wooden fences with pieces flying everywhere.
At his speed, Keroberos made it to the forest on the outskirts of the city. He was glad for that.
But to his dismay, it was also good for the two Terminators piloting the chopper to have a more clearer shot at their primary target, & trees were hardly any obstacle.
Especially for the Hellfire missiles & 70-mm rockets the Apache held.
Two left their ports one right after another, streaking towards their target & protector. A large portion of ground goes up in plumes of dirt, trees & grass as Keroberos fought to keep himself level & not get knocked over by the shockwave or the blast itself.
He knows that if he does, it's game over.
Another pair of missiles get fired, & strike an area six feet away from their position. The blasts were still felt by Keroberos as John lets out a slight cry of surprise, his body shaking from the blast more than fear. Keroberos could not turn & launch a gout of flames at the overhead chopper: in doing so, he exposes John to enemy fire & make him an easier hit. All he can do is stay ahead of enemy fire & hope their ammo runs out before too long.
Next round of missiles the Terminators launch from their pods are a half-dozen. These sinister six bomb several trees & leaves giant craters in the dirt, spraying scorched earth & wood in all directions. Even with his expert flying skills, it was too much for Keroberos: a large piece of blown tree smacks him in the side of his face, causing him to lose his balance & altitude. Landing face-first in the ground, the crash made him let go of his essential passenger as he cries out John's name, who tumbles many yards away in a grove of dirt while Keroberos slams hard into another tree, hitting his side that caused him to cry in anguish, fearing he may have cracked a rib or two.
"John…", the guardian beast says weakly, with his attempts to get back on his feet just as so. But each move he makes sends a surge of pain through his body, burning hotter than his own fire.
The Apache aims the chain gun at the would-be savior of Earth.
No! Forgive me, Sarah!, Keroberos thought, knowing that he has failed in his task & that Sarah Connor never will.
The Terminator at the front presses the button to the chain gun.
A powerful shot strikes the chopper in the tail section, blowing off the rear rotor & sending the pieces flying. Like an airborne top, the Apache started spinning wildly & out of control. The rounds shot out went just as wild, hitting trees & dirt but never striking Keroberos or John Connor. Unable to get the chopper under control, the Terminators try to bail but a second shot to the fuel port detonates the helicopter into a fireball, blowing it & the two cyborg pilots to flaming scrap. Even though badly hurt, Keroberos rushed over to John & shielded him with his body to make sure he didn't get hit by any falling debris, be it helicopter or cyborg.
Pieces came close, but not one made contact.
"John! John, are you okay?", Keroberos asks.
John was a little slow in answering, but he didn't seem too badly off.
"I'm sort of sore all over & I look like shit, but…I'll live", he said.
"Thank Heavens", Keroberos replied with a smile.
"Actually, it's thanks to you, rather than the Man Upstairs. You took out that chopper just in time, & I'm in your debt for it."
A confused look on Keroberos' face made John have one.
"Hey. What's wrong?", he asks.
"Not to dump your praise to me, John, but I had absolutely nothing to do with bringing that bird down", Keroberos says. "I was too out of it when it blew."
"If you didn't take out that whirlybird, then…who did? It couldn't have been Yue – he's even more out of it than you are."
Movement from the corners of their eyes caught John & Keroberos' attention.
When they turned to see what it was, they could hardly believe it.
Agonizing minutes pass since the Apache started shooting at John Connor, who Keroberos took & flew off in keeping far ahead of his killers. Sarah, Kojiro & the others could only watch & listen to the horrid sounds of gunfire & missiles deploying, accompanied by explosions that they could feel even at a distance. Before long, the last of the explosions occurred, & they all were on edge, not knowing what the outcome of it is.
Needless to say, Sarah Connor was worried most.
"Come on, Sarah. Keroberos is doing everything he can to keep John safe & alive. You know that", Tomoyo says to try & put her at ease.
"I do, Tomoyo", Sarah says, caressing her head. "But I just can't help thinking if Keroberos failed somehow & winds up killed along with my son. Magical or not, he's still flesh & blood, & can bleed as easily as us. Those Terminators even managed to hurt Yue pretty bad, & he's really powerful."
"It still doesn't mean you give up either hoping or fighting. Isn't that what you've been teaching your son since the cradle?"
Sarah stared at Tomoyo. What she sees is a girl with more than just glamour & good looks. She sees a girl who's got heart & brains, & she isn't shy about displaying either. Sarah wonders if she could ever be like Tomoyo, were it not for the war that may or may not come to pass. If it's the latter & that war never arises, who knows?
"John?", Sarah said, hoping what she heard wasn't a figment of her imagination.
It wasn't: from sixteen feet above the ground, Keroberos flew down from the sky with John riding his back. Like his ride, he was dirty in spots with some black-&-blue marks, but very much alive. When Keroberos landed, John jumped off & went straight to his mother's arms as the rest ran to the yellow winged lion, sans Kojiro & Yukito.
"Keroberos!", Meilin says. "You're not too badly hurt, are you? It's a miracle you even made it back in your condition!"
"Nothing I couldn't handle", he says.
"Keroberos…thank you!", Sarah says in gratitude. "Were it not for you, I wouldn't be holding my son right now!"
"Uh, about that, mom", John said. "Keroberos wasn't the one who saved me or destroyed that helicopter."
"What?", Sarah said, staring at the winged lion.
"John speaks truthful, Miss Connor", Keroberos says. "His real savior is right behind us."
"He means me."
They all looked up to see a welcome sight – Sakura Kinomoto, stripped of her Final Judgment outfit & back in her regular yellow dress, minus the sunflower hat, with the Fly Card's wings on her back. The Shot Card – now in its card form – returns inside her backpack, & she lands with grace on her feet. Her face was as expressionless as any of the Terminators they fought.
"Sakura! Welcome back!", Tomoyo said, wrapping her arms around her dear friend. Strangely, Sakura doesn't return the gesture.
"Good news, Sakura!", Meilin said. "We found the discs Sarah & John were searching for, & Yue burned them all up with one motion of…"
"I know, Meilin. Keroberos filled me in on recent events", Sakura says without emotion. "Good work, everyone."
"Sakura?", Sarah says, a little worried as are the rest. "You all right? You seem rather…pale."
"It's…just been a long day, Sarah. For all of us", Sakura says.
"Here, Sakura", Shaoran says, handing back her book. "I kept it safe, just like you asked."
"Thank you, Shaoran", she said, taking her book & holding it close to her chest. "We should get out of here now."
"Let's all head over to my house this time, Sakura", Tomoyo said. "Is that all right?"
"I'll meet you there", Sakura finished & took to the air before anyone could say anything further.
"So that's your friend Sakura?", Kojiro asked.
"That was her, Kojiro", Meilin said worriedly. "But that's not the way she usually behaves. Hell, she didn't even acknowledge Yukito's condition, let alone John or Keroberos'. It was like she didn't even care. And that's not like her. That isn't like her at all."
"Her sudden change is no doubt caused by what we've currently faced this day", Keroberos said. "It's bound to make anyone act in that manner. We should give her a little time to help her cope. Come to think of it, it's something we all can use, now that we accomplished our task."
"Or ours, Keroberos", Sarah said. "You all helped us succeed in doing what we came here for, & we literally cannot thank you enough."
"But success aside, your friend Sakura was right before", Kojiro said, lifting Yukito's unconscious body in his arms. "We ought to make ourselves scarce from here – the sooner, the better."
"Agreed, Kojiro", Sarah said. "Tomoya, how far is your home from here?"
"Not too far, Sarah", she says. "Get in, & I'll give Kojiro directions to it."
Nodding, they started back to Kojiro's SUV & begun by placing Yukito in the back seat. Keroberos transformed into his smaller form & entered Tomoyo's backpack, doing so carefully so as not to strain himself due to his injuries. He looks at Tomoya briefly with a worried look, thinking about Sakura. Not knowing what to say, they enter the SUV & started heading to Tomoya's house, leaving a battered Shorai No Tech Center & four defeated killer cyborgs behind.
Now it's time to pick up the pieces – both physical & emotional.
Daidouji Residence, 11:30 p.m.:
True to her word, Sakura was present when Tomoyo & everyone arrived short minutes later. She waited for them at the front gates of her home as Tomoyo gained access via her four bodyguards in black suits & sunglasses, all female. She explained that the people with her in the SUV were those she had invited over, having called her mother Sonomi along the way over. One of them called her on the phone to confirm her story as the rest looked at the people she were with: an officer, a young man in the back dozing, the Li cousins & two Americans, a mother & her son about Tomoyo's age. Sarah & John Connor weren't sure if they would be recognized by Tomoyo's bodyguards & didn't want to take a chance, so they each put on a spare pair of mirrored sunglasses & fixed their hair a bit to prevent such a thing from taking place.
Fortunately for all involved, everything checks out as one of the bodyguards gets confirmation from Sonomi, & none of them seemed suspicious of the Connors. The only catch to it all was this: that two of the bodyguards remained to keep a close eye on things, especially with the brutal shootout that happened earlier in the day.
Tomoyo had no objections, & two remained while the other pair were given the night off by her mother & headed into the city.
With that, they were granted permission inside the residence as Kojiro drove in with Sakura going in on foot without a word.
Both bodyguards stayed outside, one in front & the other in back, while Tomoyo & company use her facilities to freshen up & even take a quick refreshing shower, getting into clean clothes Tomoyo & her mother keep for emergencies. Food was being prepared by Sarah once her shower was finished, & Yukito rested upon & ate in Sonomi's bed, with Kero doing the same a few feet away. Yukito had a clean bandage on his shoulder & chest where the Therizino Terminator both bit & scratched him as Yue, while Kero had them wrapped around his torso & some translucent cream on his face where the Deinonychus cyborg scratched him at. But even in his current injured state, the little yellow winged creature stuffed his face with every morsel of food handed to him, from fried dumplings to desserts of ice cream & cake. Beverages of all kinds helped wash it all down.
"That sure hit the spot!", Yukito said, handing his empty dish over to Sarah. "I didn't know that you were quite an accomplished cook, Sarah!"
"I'll say she is!", Meilin says. "This food is really delicious, it could surpass what our caretaker Wei has made for Shaoran & I before – and believe me, that's saying something!"
Shaoran smiled, knowing Meilin's remark was in no way disrespectful to him.
"Yeah Sarah! What's your secret?", Kero asks, stuffing his face of the last of his cake & letting out an average belch. The Li cousins scowl at the yellow creature as Kojiro, Yukito, Tomoyo & the Connors smile.
"It's nothing, really", Sarah said, nearly laughing. "I used to be a waitress at a diner, so I picked up on details about preparing food. Even after becoming a target for a killer cyborg from the future, I used what I learned to keep my son & I well fed."
"Not bad for a mother & son on the run!", Kero says.
"Geez Kero, why don't you announce it a little louder, for Christ's sake?!", Meilin snapped. "I'm not so sure that Tomoyo's two bodyguards standing right outside heard you!"
"What's eating you?!"
"Meilin's right, Kero!", Shaoran said. "Kojiro here may be on our side, but no other cop is going to be as lenient towards Sarah & John if they should get discovered, so keep it down!"
Shaoran stated his last part by jabbing a finger into Kero's side, causing a sharp pain in the little yellow creature & cry out in agony, his eyes & mouth agape.
"Whoa! Your wound still hurts?", Shaoran asks, partly regretting his action.
"Shit yeah it still hurts, kid!", Kero shouted, standing & staring daggers at the kid. "Just what the hell are you trying to do – kill me?!"
"The thought did cross my mind, you little stuffed animal!", Shaoran said, staring back with no sign of pity or remorse. "And I just might since none of those Terminators did!"
"What?! You take that back, kid! Right now!"
"And what are you gonna do about it if I don't?!"
"Why you…just you wait until I'm all better, kid! Are you ever going to be sorry!"
"Like I'm so scared!"
"You ought to be!"
Shaoran & Kero continue their bickering as the rest watch in disbelief, seeing them going at each other's throats after dealing with machines that wanted nothing better than to eliminate them all.
"Hey girls", John says, addressing Tomoyo & Meilin. "Are these two always at odds with each other like this?"
"Non-stop", they say in unison with bashful looks & smiles. Those same kind of facial expressions blossom on Sarah, John & Kojiro. They couldn't help but snicker & laugh at the display, with Yukito as he joins in despite his injuries. After everything they've all been through, a laugh made the difference between staying human & becoming what they were fighting.
"You know, it's said somewhere that when two people fight & bicker constantly, they become a good pair of friends shortly afterwards", Yukito said. "I'd say these two will hit it off in no time."
"What?! Me?! Friends…with him?!", Kero & Shaoran say in unison, pointing towards each other.
"See? They're off to a great start!"
Kero & Shaoran's faces blushed a bright red & turn away from each other, now embarrassed of their public display. The group lets out another laugh & savor the moment, each living soul enjoying in to the fullest, not knowing when they might get to do so again.
"Nice to have us all in good spirits after the hell we went through", John said.
"It certainly helps to relieve the tension of it, young man", Kojiro says. "It's what we do down at the station after things get too hairy on the job."
"Thereby improving your performance & duties as a cop, right?", Yukito asks. Kojiro nods.
"It is said that laughter can be the best medicine", the officer says. "Having a good laugh can help melt away all the stress you get whenever you're up to your neck in it. That's why we go play practical jokes on rookies. In addition to helping those in need & putting bad guys away, there's one very serious requirement about being a cop: you better be able to laugh at yourself!"
Kojiro's last statement got a chuckle from the group.
"It's still good to see that everyone here can do just that, Kojiro", Meilin said before her facial features go from jolly to melancholy. "All except, that is, for…"
Meilin's expression spreads to the rest of the group, & their high spirits plummet like a stone.
"Poor kid", Kojiro says. "She's hardly said a word since we got here. She hasn't washed up or changed her clothes, hell, she hasn't even eaten anything. For someone her age, that's not healthy."
"Why don't I go & talk to her?", Tomoyo suggests. "If there's one thing I can't stand in this whole world, it's seeing Sakura down & out like this."
Tomoyo heads for the door but gets stopped.
"Tomoyo, wait", Sarah says, coming up to her. "Let me go & see her."
"Sarah? Not that I'm complaining or anything, but why…", Tomoyo started asking.
"Listen sweetheart", Sarah tells her sincerely, gently placing her hands on her shoulders. "I went through a very similar phase myself when that first Terminator came after me 12 years ago. This thing has really hit her harder than any of us here, including my son & I. If anybody can understand what she's experiencing, it's me."
Tomoyo looks at the eyes of Sarah Connor and, fugitive or not, she can see a set of eyes that are pleading instead on one that demands to talk to her friend alone. It's a pair of eyes that tell Tomoyo to go ahead, almost like she was hypnotized.
But Tomoyo's answer was from her own free will.
"You do raise a good point, Sarah. Go talk to her", Tomoyo said kindly. Sarah gives her a kindly kiss on her cheek.
"It's no wonder why you & her are such good friends, Tomoyo", Sarah says, grabbing a plate of uneaten food & a pair of chopsticks. "See you all in a little while."
Sarah closed the door to Sonomi's master bedroom before making it over to Tomoyo's, giving the door a trio of soft knocks & calling Sakura's name. When she didn't answer, Sarah gently opens the door to take a peek inside. Sakura sat upon Tomoyo's bed at the edge, staring down. Her book & staff were placed on the desk, & the curtains were drawn back to let the moonlight in, being that the room was dark. Entering & turning the light on, Sarah walked up to Sakura & sat beside her.
"Sakura? Sakura honey, why don't you try & eat something?", Sarah asks her kindly, placing the plate of food in front of her. "We're all very worried about you, sweetie."
After a few moments of reluctance (& the irresistible scent), Sakura takes the chopsticks & starts using them to take the food on the plate – fried dumplings – and slowly but surely ate them in silence, her mood unchanged even if what she ate were as good as those her own father made. It took some time, but Sakura finished whatever was on her plate, making Sarah smile in satisfaction. When Sakura was done, she lay the chopsticks back on the plate.
"Good girl", Sarah says gratefully, removing the plate & placing in on the table with her book & staff before rejoining Sakura on the bed. "I'm really glad you had something to eat, Sakura. I know the others will feel the same way."
"Did you make those dumplings yourself, Sarah?", Sakura asked without raising her head.
"Yes. As a matter of fact, I did. What do you think?"
"They're good – about as good as when my dad makes them."
"Thank you, sweetheart. Being a diner waitress becomes useful for more than just serving food."
Sarah started to chuckle a little, but when she saw Sakura not joining in, she stopped for fear of upsetting her more than she already is.
"I'm sorry hon", she says sincerely. "I didn't laugh to spite you or anything like that."
"It's all right. I know you meant no harm", Sakura assures her. "Hey Sarah?"
"Kyle Reese gave you a description of what the future was like, right?"
Sarah thought about it for a moment before answering her.
"He did give me some idea of how life was like in his time, yes", she says. "He told me of how they stay hidden in the daytime & move about at night, as long as you're careful of the HKs roaming around, even though they weren't that bright. He's informed me of using dogs to sniff out Terminators in the vicinity as an early warning of their approach. A lot of details he used in describing how the cities looked after they've been hit by Skynet, but aside from that, I can only imagine what the world is like in his future time, along with their way of life. But I guess you can, since you made that trip there."
"You're right…I can", Sakura says, finally looking up at her as tears started forming in her eyes. When she speaks again, her tone trembled. "And it's the most horrible thing I've ever seen, Sarah! At first glance of that future, it didn't even look like we were on the same planet! Everything was in total ruins – everything! On the ground, instead of grass & dirt, I saw skulls lying everywhere! Human skulls, Sarah! Not rocks, but bones! And those machines – they really are as cold as the steel they're made of! I watched them hunt down & kill those wounded, sick & dying without even the slightest hint of pity or remorse! They just kept on coming & killing, intent on wiping us out until we were all gone! The worst of it all for me there? I learned that all my friends in that time were…they all…they…"
The thought of hearing what Yamazaki & Shaoran said of her friends in the future & the whole aspect of it was too much for Sakura to bear & she dived into Sarah, burying her head in her chest as she cried her heart out. Her crying was audible even if muffled, letting it out like there literally was no tomorrow. Sarah wrapped her arms around Sakura & comforted her like she would for her own son if it was him in despair. She knew Sakura didn't have to say anything further about it: Sarah knows all too well of how cold & calculating the machines are, having the first one find & murder her two very best friends Matt Buchanan & Ginger Ventura at the apartment she & Ginger shared just because they were there: Matt was severely beaten to death by the cyborg, while Ginger was shot & killed half a dozen times in the back.
Sarah can still recall that time over at West Highland Police Station, receiving the news from the late Lieutenant Traxler, one of seventeen officers killed by the merciless cyborg.
Sarah: Listen…are you sure it's them? I mean…maybe I should look at the bodies…
Traxler: No, they've been identified. There's no doubt.
Sarah (crying): Oh, God…Ginger!
A tear runs down Sarah's own cheek from that painful memory as Sakura's continue to flow like a stream. Sarah felt deeply for Sakura: in the future, her friends (or probably most of them) don't exist in that war-torn era, & she had to deal with that heartache among several others while she was there. It's in no way an environment for kids like Sakura, Tomoyo, Meilin & her other friends to have to grow up in. It's also why she & her son are fighting their hardest in the present to stop that kind of future from ever occurring even before John was born.
Sarah hopes that she & John make sure that neither Sakura, her friends, nor anyone else on the planet gets to ever see that nightmare.
She keeps Sakura close to her & let her cry out her despair for as much as she needs to, rocking her back & forth slightly as she did with John whenever he cried as an infant. For all of her strong magic she possesses that courses through her & her self-named cards, Sakura Kinomoto is still just a child, & there's only so much that any child can handle before breaking down.
When her sobbing becomes softer, Sarah lifts her head to look her in the eye after wiping away her tears with her fingers.
"Sakura honey", she says tenderly. "Listen to me: as terrible as that future you visited was, you were very brave to travel to it & do your best to fix things there in the first place. That took a lot of guts, hon. Even I would never have attempted such a dangerous feat were I in possession of the power you do. I gotta say, Sakura: I see potential & bravery in you that I don't think even my own son has when I look at you. Between you & me, I'd say you would make a better savior of humanity than John."
Sarah rolled her eyes from left to right.
"But you didn't hear that from me", she playfully whispered, adding a wink & a grin.
Sakura surrendered, & she smiled with a slight laugh.
"My lips are sealed, Sarah", Sakura said, teasing her back.
The two laugh a little to let go of the sadness that dwelled within them, & Sarah praises Sakura for getting back to her regular self, even if it's little by little.
A crash from one of the bedroom windows interrupts their moment, causing Sarah & Sakura to dive for cover to avoid the flying shards. The crash was followed by a thump, & both girls dared taking a peek from behind the bed they took shelter at. What they saw chilled their blood: one of Tomoyo's bodyguards was lying on her back with lifeless eyes, her chest & face horribly slashed & still bleeding.
Seconds later, her killer appears at the edge of the broken window from a powerful jump from street level, followed by another assassin. Sarah & Sakura couldn't believe their eyes: it was the T-800 & Deinonychus Terminators, the ones the Li cousins & the two Clow Guardians dealt with at the tech center. Both cyborgs were devoid of any flesh, & had their crimson sights currently set on Sarah.
Impossible! How have they survived?!, Sarah thought.
"Sakura…!", she said, getting a nod from her friend.
Acting fast, Sakura grabbed her book & staff to attack. But the T-800 acted first: it grabbed the older Connor by the throat with its blood-stained right arm as Sakura called out her name. Sarah tried fighting the thing, but she was no match for its strength. Every punch & kick that she made on it was seldomly felt by the humanoid machine, no matter how hard she hit.
"Let…fucking…go of me…!", Sarah barked at it. With no effort, the T-800 jerked its arm towards the right & tossed Sarah into & through another window, shattering glass as she plummeted straight to the ground on her back. Her body felt like all of her bones had shattered, & her vision flashed briefly white before going black.
Now both cyborgs have their sights set on Sakura.
The young Clow Card master makes her way to the door & exits in a hurry as both Terminators make their way after her. Sakura saw Shaoran & Kojiro exit the master bedroom, their weapons drawn.
"Sakura, what happened?!", Kojiro asked hurriedly.
"Get back inside!", Sakura shouted just before the door she came out of exploded in a shower of splinters by a powerful, blood-stained metal fist. The blast caught Sakura by surprise, & she stumbled forward to stay clear of the large pieces. Kojiro fired his weapon on the first cyborg he sees – the T-800 – as his bullets simply bounce off its metal hide with no noticeable damage.
But they do get its attention, same as its partner.
Sakura sees the enemy making their way towards her friends. Acting fast, she takes out the Windy Card, bringing it to life. Windy wraps itself around Kojiro & Shaoran, taking them back inside the room, followed by Sakura throwing the Shield Card & activating it. The Shield Card covered everyone in Sonomi's bedroom in a protective translucent dome, a fact made clear to the two killer cyborgs when they tear the door down. Their scanners pick up on the Shield Card's presence, along with the Float Card's to fortify Shield's power as Sakura did back in her home earlier in the day during the Terminator attack there. Float was also used to provide a quick escape for all within if need be: Sakura must have simultaneously & secretly added Float & activated it with Shield.
In any case, there was no way the Terminators were going to penetrate that defense, & even they knew it; John Connor, Tomoyo Daidouji, Kojiro Wakasuki, Yukito Tsukishiro, the Li cousins & Kero were well protected.
"Dome is impenetrable", the T-800 said. "We will not be able to acquire & eliminate primary target John Connor or his accomplices."
"It matters not", said the Deinonychus. "Logic indicates that the child called Sakura Kinomoto poses an even greater threat to our cause due to her very strong magic. It is also not illogical to believe that she could lead humanity to victory over our master Skynet should John Connor himself not be able to. Therefore, Connor is irrelevant for the time being, & our current primary target is the child Sakura Kinomoto. We will terminate her at our earliest convenience."
The news sent a chill down everyone's spines within the dome.
Oh no! The Terminators are now targeting Sakura!, Tomoyo thought with dread. That very same notion went through all their heads, making their chill even more fearful.
But outside of the room, Sakura was indifferent.
"Hey Terminators!", she barked with defiance, her staff in hand as they turned to her. "If you wish to kill this other future savior, then you're going to have to catch her first! So come & get me!"
"That we will, child!", the dinosaur cyborg said, making a mighty leap at Sakura like a mechanical frog & swiping at her with its claws. Sakura raced down the stairs as the dinosaur's claws smashed the corner, raining down pieces of sheet rock & wood. It then leaps at her again, but Sakura ducks at the last possible second, avoiding getting slashed across her back as the thing lands at the bottom & faces her. The T-800 arrives at the top of the stairs & stares down at Sakura, keeping her trapped between two hard places.
The T-800 descends the steps rapidly & raises its left arm in a fist. When it gets within striking distance of Sakura, it swings it forward as the Deinonychus makes another leap at her. Sakura activates the Jump Card, & twin miniature sets of angel wings appear at her feet. She leaps out of both cyborgs' way, just as the T-800 swings its fist & the dinosaur lands with its claws at the spot where she was only a second ago.
All they manage to hit was wall & stairs, leaving holes & dents of debris.
Sakura landed safely on the floor downstairs, but the Terminators were already back in pursuit: the Deinonychus leaped at her again, while the T-800 crashed through the banister & onto the floor as it made a small hole from its weight. Both machines grabbed & flung furniture in all shapes & sizes at Sakura, from tables & chairs to a large screen television, the latter of which the T-800 threw. Sakura jumped away as the television hit the wall, being smashed into a mess of plastic, glass, wires & panels. Barely missed getting crushed, Sakura launched herself at the T-800 like a living missile & crashed into its face feet-first with all her might. The blow knocked the T-800 hard into the wall, causing a dent in its shape as if making a snow angel almost. She rebounded off it just as the Deinonychus made a leap at her to skewer her like a trout, missing her by a fraction of an inch. All it managed to hit was her dress at the bottom, ripping it to shreds in the back.
The sounds of chaos & carnage went fully noticed by those upstairs.
"Those things are trashing Tomoyo's house in order to get to Sakura! We have to help her!", said Kojiro.
"And we have to get to my mom! Let's move!", John adds.
"No! Sakura put up the Shield & Float Cards for a reason – to keep us all safe!", Shaoran reminds them. "We need to stay put here!"
"You would have us all stay here while Sakura's fighting for her life downstairs?! I expected better from you, Shaoran!", Tomoyo said. "You heard what those Terminators were saying before!"
"She's got a good point, kid!", said Kero. "Sakura's not just your ally anymore – she's your love! I recall Sakura telling her older brother this morning that she loves you as you do her! By remaining here in this protective dome & not going to her aide, you forsake your feelings for her! Ask yourself this, kid: do you think Sakura would do the same if it were you out there right now?!"
"This is one time that I agree with the stuffed animal, Shaoran!", Meilin adds. "It was I who was to be your one & only unless you found someone else to fill that void, as per our agreement all those years ago! Now you've found her, & yet you'll do nothing to assist her in what's undoubtedly a fight to the death?! By doing so, not only have you broken our agreement, you become as cold as the machines themselves! And what would be the point in fighting them then?! Huh?!"
"Shaoran", Yukito said, with all eyes going to him. "Listen to them. You know they speak the truth of what they've said. My love & respect for Sakura is deep, but yours goes even further. And with Kero & myself currently unable to assist her, you are the best & only candidate out of us all to help her! So please, for her sake & that of the human race…do it!"
"What's it gonna be, kid?!", Kero says as Shaoran gets lost in thought. "Each second you waste up here is a favor to the machines! If ever there was a time for you to prove your love to her, this is it!"
After careful consideration from what seemed like forever, Shaoran makes his choice.
These goddamn machines are going to trash Tomoyo's house down to its foundation if I don't get them outside!, Sakura thought, landing on the floor & turning to her metal foes.
"You cannot escape us forever, Sakura Kinomoto!", the Deinonychus says as the T-800 frees itself from the wall. "No matter where you go, we will always find you, the same as we will John Connor! We will find you, & we will kill you – both of you!"
"Talk is cheap, machines! Come prove it to us!", Sakura snapped.
"As you wish, child!"
Sakura broke into a run for the outside door, but was blocked by the T-800 as it threw a sofa in its path with ease & almost hitting her dead-on. The dinosaur cyborg ran after her with its claws extended & its mouth open in order to shred the second savior of humanity where she stood. Sakura leapt out of its path & made a beeline for the kitchen, with both Terminators in hot pursuit. Running like she was in the Olympics, Sakura dived at & crashed into & out the window just as the T-800 entered & retrieving large knives it found close by. Throwing them with expert precision, the knives sailed through the air at Sakura, missing her by a millimeter in the back. Only a few strands of her hair became the casualty in the attack.
Landing on a roll, Sakura got back on her feet & headed for the backyard to deal with her foes on better ground. When she made it there, she saw a horrible sight: the second of Tomoyo's bodyguards facedown on the pavement in a pool of blood, her face in total shock. Taking a closer look, Sakura can clearly see that a hole in her back was formed, as if someone or something had actually punched its way through her with ease. It explained to Sakura as to why the T-800 had stained blood on its right hand & arm: it drove it straight through the poor woman, & she was either taken down completely by surprise, or didn't put up much of a fight before dying gruesomely by its hand.
Either way, she didn't stand a chance against the machine & died hurting – a lot.
Like metal golems, the two Terminators crashed through the glass door & spraying its contents everywhere. Sakura turned & faced them with her Star Wand in hand, her face in one of pure hatred & contempt. These sentient machines have hunted & hounded the Connors for over a decade, killing any & all who stand in their way, from cops like Lieutenant Traxler to innocent people such as Sarah's two best friends Matt Buchanan & Ginger Ventura.
Now they've followed them to Japan, doing more of the same which nearly gets her friends killed on what was supposed to be a fun day at the park & turning it into a nightmare – one that continued into the future where she briefly visited, only many times worse.
It all sickened Sakura, the whole aspect of it.
It also made her very mad: in all her life, Sakura Kinomoto has never hated anything more than the Terminators & the one who gave them all sentience in the first place. With her power, Sakura can simply use the Erase Card & wipe them out of existence for good. But considering how utterly ruthless & merciless they are to humans & other organic life, that would be too easy. She wants to make them pay with interest & damage them greatly with her own two hands. Even if they can't actually feel pain as she & other humans can, it will highly satisfy her about as much as being the new master of Clow Reed's grand creations.
And she has just the cards to help her do that.
"Come on, motherfuckers!", Sakura growled through clenched teeth, her eyes scowled in burning hatred. The T-800 rushed ahead of its companion to land a direct blow to its target, drawing its left fist back & driving it forward. Sakura caught it by its wrist in her right hand & twists the metal like it was nothing more than soft taffy, removing its hand & part of its forearm. With her staff in her left hand, Sakura rams it into the Terminator's chest & drives it back several feet, soaring through the air with a dent in its chest where Sakura struck it. The T-800 crashes onto the pavement & skidded to a stop at the house.
The Deinonychus stopped & scanned Sakura with its optics, reading her from head to toe.
"So…you have infused yourself with the Power Card, I see", it said. "It still won't save you, dear girl!"
"Like I said before…prove it to me!", she barked.
The dinosaur cyborg came after her with claws ready to slash. Once it was in range, Sakura swung her staff like a club to bash its metal head in. But the creature leaped up at the last second, avoiding the hit that would've smashed it. Only the pavement suffered damage, leaving a crater where Sakura's staff struck with a ground-shaking buffet & kicking up gravel & dirt. The Deinonychus landed over at the body of Tomoya's bodyguard & kicked it over to Sakura, hoping that the shock will immobilize her & strike unawares. But Sakura wasn't fooled: she moved out of the corpse's path as it hit the house in a bloody heap before falling to the ground.
That made Sakura even madder: bad enough that they were hounding & killing the living, but now they go too far in showing just as much hatred & disrespect for the dead.
"Fucking bastard!", she spat, turning her staff into a sword with the card of the same name. She ran after the dinosaur cyborg with her weapon raised high. With savage swings, Sakura attacks her foe as she intends on slicing the metal beast into many pieces or bashing/tearing it with her bare hands.
She currently didn't care which way, as long as she gets to hurt this machine.
Each of her horizontal & diagonal swings were as expertly performed as any ninja or samurai, & her vertical ones were just as deadly, coughing up gravel & dirt every time. But none of these attacks so far has hit her target, the dinosaur cyborg avoiding each one as accurately as Sakura was delivering them.
It even backed away from Sakura, almost as if…
"So…you machines are afraid of me, is that it?! You should be!", Sakura snapped.
"Oh, you're wrong, child! I was just biding my time!", the Deinonychus said, keeping a distance of six feet from her.
Biding its time? What could it possibly mean by that?, Sakura thought. What tricks does it have under its metal sleeve?
Then it hit her: being so concentrated on the dinosaur cyborg, Sakura has forgotten about the T-800 after ripping off part of its arm & knocking it away. The thing took damage, yes, but not too severe that it was out of commission permanently.
Quickly turning around, Sakura saw the still-functioning T-800, missing its left forearm & hand, standing five feet away. Her facing it proved to be costly: from behind, the Deinonychus raced up to & scratched Sakura in the back, making three bleeding cuts. She cried out in pain as the T-800 used its good arm to snatch & toss away her sword/staff which lands in the pavement sixteen feet from them, getting stuck on a slant. It then buffeted Sakura with a powerful backhand that sent her sprawling in the air & hitting the pavement hard, blood trickling down out of her mouth & her vision in white spots. Sakura cursed herself for not paying more attention to the T-800: the dinosaur cyborg merely kept her distracted while its partner made its approach & catch her off-guard despite the loss of a hand & part of its arm. She should have finished it when she had the chance, & now she's about to pay for that error dearly.
And the Power Card won't help her: although her strength is increased highly, it still didn't make her invincible like a certain character from comic books that has a red 'S' on his chest.
Enhanced with the Power Card or not, Sakura was beaten.
Now the machines tend to finish her off: grabbing Sakura by the throat from behind with its one hand, the T-800 holds her up to face the Deinonychus & uses what remained of its left arm to keep her secure by pinning her own to her body. Putting the pressure on her neck to prevent her from acting out, the T-800 holds her still as its partner stands a deadly three inches from her face.
"You fought us valiantly, Sakura Kinomoto, but your efforts were doomed from the start!", it said. "We told you that we would kill you, & now we shall! And once you're no more, the cards will become all but inert & without a master, releasing your friends from the dome & making them our next targets, John Connor in particular! After they are disposed of, there'll be no one left to oppose us from wiping out you filthy humans from this planet! Long live Skynet!"
The dinosaur cyborg raises its left arm to deliver a blow that will end Sakura's life, its claws sharp enough to leave marks in solid stone. Blood still flowing from her mouth, Sakura can only watch as her death stands seconds away. Held firm, she can do nothing to either prevent or avoid her fate or that of her friends, let alone that of billions worldwide.
I'm so sorry, everybody!, Sakura thought, making it the last she'll ever have.
The dinosaur cyborg brought its hand down.
A clanging sound of metals meeting erupted, & the creature's clawed arm up to the elbow fell to the ground, cleanly cut by a sword that sails through the air & back to the one who threw it. The two cyborgs turned to see who intruded on their execution of Sakura.
It was Shaoran Li.
"Get the fuck away from her…right now!", he spat.
Shaoran…?, Sakura thought, taking a glance. It wasn't an image of her last thoughts: he was real, & standing ready to protect her. It was all the encouragement she needed: with her free right arm, she grabbed the T-800's & removed its hand from her throat before throwing it into its partner, causing it to collide in a mesh of metal, sounding almost like two cars hitting each other.
"Sakura! Are you okay?!", Shaoran asked.
"I am now! Thanks, Shaoran! I'll take it from here!", Sakura says, getting her sword & changing it back into her Star Wand. She calls upon a card that sported a picture of a male teenager with flaming hair, cut bangs, long pointed ears & orange wings. A red jeweled headband circles his forehead.
Sakura called upon the Firey Card, one of the four main elemental cards & most dangerous.
"Firey Card…I summon you to come forth & melt them down!", she ordered with as much fire in her as the card's main body itself. Coming to life, the Firey Card spreads its wings to reveal a lower body composed in a pillar of fire. Flying over to Sakura's enemies, Firey circles around the Terminators & encases both in a cylinder of fire, raising the temperature within. The systems of the Terminators go critical & break down, shutting down many functions. Even though composed of titanium alloy, their metal was still no match for Firey's power & it begins to glow a hot orange before melting at the legs, arms & bodies. Unable to support themselves on their weakened legs, the Terminators fall on their hands & knees. The forms they took began warping into unrecognizable shapes, melting like they're nothing more than wax candles.
Under the tender mercies of the Firey Card, they might as well be.
So hot was Firey at this point, the pavement underneath was melting with them, creating a small crater.
When the Terminators are good & helpless, Sakura calls Firey back & into a card again, flying off to rejoin the other Sakura Cards. She wants to deal the final blow herself, & she runs up to the mostly melted machines, now looking more like failed sculptures than killer robots. Letting out a cry of utter rage & hatred, Sakura swings her staff like a baseball bat & splatters the metal monsters into pieces of silver goo that gets sent everywhere. She then raises her staff over her head & brings it down with all her might & smashes the T-800 further, deepening the hole Firey started. Sakura repeats the effort on what remained of the Deinonychus cyborg, letting her anger & hate for the machines show to be seen by all who views this display, the ground literally shaken by the force of the blows.
Sakura raises her staff for a third strike, but it gets grabbed from behind & she turns with a right fist, ready to punch whoever dares to interrupt her. She stops her fist's flight forward when she sees who it was that snatched her staff, & her face turns from one of hatred & rage to that of surprise.
It was Sarah Connor, battered & bruised but alive.
She backed away a few feet with her hands raised in surrender, being just as surprised.
"Easy there, I give up!", Sarah says, half-joking. She stares at what remained of the Terminators. A small smile forms from her mouth. "Whoa, Sakura! Remind me never to go & piss you off!"
"Sarah?", Sakura says in a low voice. A pink aura from her person discharges & exits her body, reforming four feet away in a pink little girl in a sleeveless dress with poofy pants. Her hair was tied in a pair of high buns in the rear with long ribbons, both of which end in ball ornaments. Her fancy jewelry consists of a red choker on her neck, yellow gem on her dress, pink earrings & a trio of gems upon her forehead. A pair of large studded bracelets adorned her wrists. Although cute-looking, the Power Card is never to be underestimated, as it can lift several tons its own size.
With red eyes of sorrow, it stares at her master whose facial features are that of a girl about to cry rather than that of pure vehement hate.
And cry she does, running to Sarah Connor & burying her face in her chest like last time, all her anger, hate & rage spent.
Right now, she isn't humanity's second savior.
She is Sakura Kinomoto. Just a little girl who currently needs some love & comfort.
"It's all right, hon", Sarah says soothingly, wrapping her arms around her in motherly love. "I've got you, Sakura baby. I've got you, sweet honey."
Sakura hugs Sarah back with all her might. It's one of the reasons why the Power Card left Sakura:
for one, its job was all but done. Two, with her enhanced strength, Sakura could've crushed Sarah just as easily as she did the Terminators, something she'd never be able to live down.
Especially secretly knowing that she won't be alive in over a year from now.
From behind them both, Shaoran watched the display as Tomoyo, Meilin, Kojiro, John, & even the injured Yukito & Kero join him. John wanted to go to his mother as Sakura has, but a gentle block from Tomoyo's arm & slight shake of her head told him to wait & let them have their moment.
John nodded, having no further objections.
Sarah shed tears for Sakura, the latter of whom let it all out like before, holding nothing back.
Power stood & stared at the affectionate display with remorseful eyes.
A tear fell from each of them.
July 6, 1:00 a.m.:
When Sakura's tears were spent, she got treatment inside Tomoyo's house by Sarah as she tends to her wounds in her back to make sure they don't get infected. During her treatment, Sarah joked to Sakura that of all the cards Clow Reed created, he never once made one that would heal wounds as well as sickness in an instant. That got Sakura to laugh a bit, & was more than enough to help lift her melancholy mood from before.
She thanked Sarah for it.
After her wounds were dealt with, Shaoran suggested he take everyone over to his place to rest for the evening & figure out what to do come morning. But Sakura strongly suggested that they return to the Shorai No Tech Center & complete the task of wiping out any existing Terminator machinery before anyone else discovers it. She was very adamant about it, & all agreed.
On the condition that only Sakura, Shaoran & Kojiro themselves go.
Dropping the rest off at Shaoran's residence, the trio headed back to find the building covered with police & firefighters crawling everywhere, making it impossible for anyone to gain access.
Unless one was Sakura Kinomoto, who possesses the world's strongest magical cards.
And the cards she uses are Time, Sleep & Erase.
Activating Time, a blanket of yellow light enshrouds everything & keeping it staying still like living statues. It also included Kojiro, having no magical abilities of his own. Only Shaoran & Sakura can move about because of it: the latter then takes out the Sleep Card, a young fairy-like little girl with a small pair of wings, green star on her forehead, short hair & an overly large feathered left ear. In her hand is a wand with a crescent moon at the end, which basically produces the dust that induces those caught to fall into a slumber for a fixed time.
Sleep flies off & sprinkles her dust over everyone inside & out of the building, not missing anyone she runs into. When she flies back, she gives Sakura a thumbs-up, indicating that her job is done. She nods, & deactivates Time. When the yellow aura of its power is withdrawn, time returns to normal & all those caught in Sleep's dust sprinkle immediately collapse like puppets after their strings were cut.
Now it was time for Erase to do its job.
Bringing it to life, Sakura strictly instructed Erase to find & wipe out all traces of Terminator tech & only Terminator tech it finds inside the building. She also told it to be quick about it, as there's no way to know for how long the authorities will stay asleep. Nodding, Erase flew off into the complex in a rush to perform its duties.
Two minutes later, Erase returns & gives Sakura a thumbs-up as Sleep did.
Sakura, Shaoran & Kojiro let out a sigh of relief.
Their deed done, everyone headed back to Shaoran's place.
A private dock outside Tokyo, noon:
In the morning, Sakura was finally able to tell everyone, including Mr. Wei, about what occurred in the future when she made her visit during breakfast. She first explained how horrible it was, from the destroyed buildings & endless heap of human bones to the battles fought with Shaoran & John Connor's older selves up to when they sent a Terminator back in time to the date of May 12th, 1984 with Kyle Reese sent to intercept it. When they asked her about Rika, Chiharu & even them, Sakura had remained silent & they all believed it best not to know or even push her for an answer.
Gathering essential supplies, the group headed to the docks that Tomoyo's mother owned & had readied a boat to help get Sarah & John back to the United States. Dressed in casual clothes & their sunglasses, the Connors complete loading the boat of what they need & step off it, approaching those who assisted her in their task.
"That's it", Sarah says. "Everything's in place, & we're all good to go. Tomoyo, thanks again for the use of this boat. My son & I only hope it won't get you into too much trouble with your mother."
"Think nothing of it, Sarah", Tomoyo assures her. "We own quite a number of them, it's hard to keep track of each one so I doubt a single boat gone missing will raise any eyebrows, even from mom."
"And all the video footage of the Terminators you recorded?"
"Gone, as per your request."
"Excellent", Kojiro said. "It's best for not even that to remain & be discovered from those who'll foolishly make a profit out of what they find."
"Sarah, you sure you & John won't reconsider our offer & stay here in Japan?", Meilin asks. "You both are still wanted in the States."
"We're sorry, Meilin", Sarah said. "It is a most considerate offer, & we are grateful to you for the chance to stay. But I'm afraid it's something that John & I just can't do at this time."
"You both still believe that the threat of Skynet looms about, in spite of what we've accomplished last night?", Shaoran asks.
"As much as we loathe to admit it, Shaoran, there's always a possibility. Until John & I are assured 100% of its eradication, we can never stop fighting for our cause."
"Neither will we", Kojiro said. "Whether or not Judgment Day is prevented."
"Kojiro, thanks for everything you did", John said. "I know it was difficult to aide & abet two known fugitives which goes against all you stand for as an officer…"
"Think nothing of it, John. If the bombs do fall, then my letting two of the most wanted escape from the law & justice will be small potatoes compared to what will come next. It's one of the reasons why I turned in my badge this morning."
"And that is why we all must disappear until such time, much as it will pain us to", Wei said.
"Is that really necessary, Mr. Wei?", Sakura asked. "Surely there must be another alternative. I can't bear the thought of being away from either my friends or my family for God knows how long."
"Sakura", Sarah says, kneeling down & placing a hand on her face. "I'm not the kind of person to go & break up happy families such as yours, Tomoyo's or Shaoran & Meilin's. God knows I've done that much too often as of late, beginning with the Dysons. But now we know that Skynet is targeting both you and my son, the machines will stop at nothing to make sure you're just as eliminated as John. It's also why we cannot stay with you: should one of you fail to stay alive, then at least humanity still has a chance of having a savior & lead it to victory." Sarah touches her forehead with Sakura's. "You & John are much too important, honey. This world's going to need you – both of you."
"Sakura", Yukito says as she faces him. "None of us are any more thrilled about leaving those we love than you are, believe me. It saddens me to not be around your brother Toya, whose company I've enjoyed for a long time. But considering what's at stake & the fact that I'm really a magical being who was created long ago with Kero here, I have no more choice than any of you do. But please know that I'm going to stay by your side & keep you safe no matter what it takes as I was meant to do."
"So will we, Sakura", Shaoran said, taking her hands. "Even though I never pictured us together during a crisis like this, I can wing it & everything else thrown my way if you're at my side. I'll always be close to you, Sakura. And I'll always love you."
"Shaoran…", Sakura says, her lips only an inch away from his.
"All right, that's enough of that!", Kero snaps, getting in between them with his arms extended. "We'd better get Sarah & John on their way before they're discovered!"
Shaoran & Kero stare daggers at each other, the former unhappy of their moment being ruined.
Everyone, even Sakura, share a laugh at their little feud.
"I have to admit, we're really going to miss you guys – all of you!", Sarah says with a grin. She bends down & faces Sakura again. "But I'll miss you most of all, Sakura. You're a most special girl, in more ways than one."
Sakura hugged Sarah for all she was worth.
"Goodbye, Sarah. I love you. I'll always love you", Sakura tells her.
"Take care, Sakura. I'll always love you too, baby", Sarah replied with sincerity.
"Hey Sakura! Do I get a hug too?", John asks, feeling slightly jealous. Sarah & Sakura grin at John's antics, & both future saviors of the human race embrace before facing one another. Each one sees a strong spirit in the other despite their young age. They can even feel that kind of presence in each.
"Don't let them win, John. No matter what", Sakura said.
"I won't. You make sure you & your friends do the same, Sakura", John replied as both nodded.
"John…we really best be going now", Sarah said. John nods again as Sarah takes one last look at Sakura & her group. "So long, everyone. Wish us luck."
"We certainly will, Sarah", Kero says as the Connors board their boat & started the twin engines. They came to life with the roar of a hungry predatory sea creature, & left port without a hitch. The boat was equipped with very comfortable living quarters including beds, fridge, cabinets & all other accommodations of home.
Nothing less from the mother of Tomoyo Daidouji!
They waited until the boat was too far away to be spotted from land.
"You're sure that boat will get them back to the States okay, Tomoyo?", Kojiro asks.
"Its twin tanks are full to the brim, & they've got more than enough spare fuel in the rear", she insists. "That boat'll do the job, Kojiro. I guarantee it."
"Good to know, Tomoyo", Meilin said. "Now it's our turn to disappear. If only I have any idea of where we can disappear to."
"I believe I know of a place, Meilin", Kojiro said.
All eyes turn to him, & they listen carefully to his every word.
After Kojiro gave then all the details, Sakura & Tomoyo briefly returned to their homes to gather all their essentials – clothing, some personal items, etc. – and made it back to their rendezvous point, which was Shaoran's place. Fortunately, no police were present at either location, making it simpler in gathering what they needed. Taking Kojiro & Wei's automobiles, the group traveled to a lone shrine located in the far outer reaches of civilization in Japan. A well-aged sensei greeted them upon arrival, & explained that he was Kojiro's as he was growing up, having lost his parents in a robbery gone wrong – one of the main reasons why he became a cop in the first place. Everyone – Sakura, Yukito, Shaoran, Meilin, Tomoyo, Kero, Wei & Kojiro himself – were mostly sharing a room, with the three young girls doing so in one, Shaoran & Wei in another, & Kojiro, Yukito & Kero in the last.
Once they were settled in, Sakura & Tomoyo started writing a letter to be sent by the Move Card to their homes, giving them a plausible reason as to why they needed to go away.
Sakura sent hers first.
It read as this:
'Dad, Toya, by the time you get & read this letter, I shall be long gone. The reason for my sudden departure is this: on the day of the Summer Festival, some very bad people attacked me & my friends with guns, almost killing us. We made it home, but they followed us there & tried again. These same people also attacked Tomoyo at her home. Like me, she's safe & alive, but we realize that staying at home is no longer an option for us. These people are cold-blooded & ruthless, & will not stop until we are dead. That is why we had to move away, far from the city until these people are dealt with, if ever. It pains me to not have told you both sooner, but we thought it'd be best not to get either one of you involved. That is why I'm asking you both & even Tomoyo's mother to leave home as well, as you might also become targets for these heartless killers. Please don't worry about our well-being: we are with Shaoran, Meilin, their caretaker Mr. Wei & even Yukito to safeguard us. I know it will be difficult for you & Sonomi to do this, considering your past, but do this you all must, as it really is for your own good. I know you'll find the one suitable place for a safe refuge. Please go there at your earliest convenience, & don't tell anyone – and I do mean anyone – of where you're going. I can say no more about this – except that I love you both very much. And I always will.'
Tomoyo wrote a similar letter to her mother before being sent. They of course left out the part of the Terminators, as well as their involvement with Sarah & John Connor.
Unable to hold it in, Tomoyo started crying as Sakura held her longtime friend close & urged her to let it out.
Kinomoto Residence, 9:00 p.m.:
When Fujitaka & Toya read the note Sakura left, the former started crying as Toya comforted him as best he could, with more than a few tears coming from his eyes. Regaining their composure, the two remaining Kinomotos began doing as Sakura suggested. Once Toya enters his room, he sees a second note lying on his desk from Sakura. Immediately he takes it in his hands & reads its contents.
'Toya, for as long as the Clow Cards came into my life, you've always known of my power & kept it secret from everyone, including Dad. For that, I can never thank you enough. Now, I have another kind of confidential news for you to keep to yourself. I want you to listen to what I have to say very carefully. It's about Sarah & John Connor…'
Toya read the note, sucking up every word like a sponge as his eyes go wide from what he's now discovering.
Eriol Hiiragizawa, Ruby Moon, Spinel Sun & Kaho Mizuki all watched events unfold on a magical vertical circle at the end of the table. When Sakura & her friends arrived at the shrine, getting settled in, Eriol called the circle away with a wave of his hand.
"So that's it then", said Ruby Moon. "They leave their old lives behind to prepare for the coming storm."
"So it would seem, Ruby Moon", Eriol said. "I'd say that my prediction is correct all along. That catastrophe we all saw in our dreams has yet to come to pass."
"With no way to stop it?", asked Spinel Sun. "There has to be another option, master. After all, they did find that data they were searching for & destroyed it all with Yue's help. Surely the outcome will be different."
"If only it was that simple, Spinel", Kaho says. "I believe that they merely postponed what's to come our way. It seems they do too."
"The poor kids", Ruby Moon said. "I never meant for them to leave their loved ones behind. It must be torture for them to have to go & make that kind of decision."
"Neither did any of us, Ruby", Eriol said. "But as I mentioned, Sakura is both strong & wise for her age. Her friends will help to give her that strength & prevail no matter what they might & will face."
"And Sarah Connor raised a very good point before", Kaho says. "If humanity is to have a second savior other than John Connor against the machines, it's Sakura Kinomoto. She will no doubt make for a fine leader."
"My thoughts exactly, my dear. I myself could not imagine a better substitute for a savior to the planet than her."
"So what shall we do in the meantime, master?", asked Spinel Sun.
"The same thing they are, Spinel. Prepare for the inevitable."
For the rest of the evening, they sat in silence.
From the pages of John Connor's Chronicles, Late July 2004:
'My mother Sarah Connor died in Late August 1997, over a year later after we went to Japan & met Sakura Kinomoto & her friends. I learned that she was cremated in Mexico & her ashes scattered into the sea. I think about Sakura every now & then since that time, & pray that she & her friends are doing well & staying safe from the machines as I am here in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, they sent back yet another Terminator to kill me & a young woman named Kate Brewster. As before, we have a lone protector watching over us. But that's another story.'
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Nathan Safferstein, Counterintelligence Agent on the Manhattan Project, 92 (1920-2013)
Claude King, Country Singer-Songwriter Know for 1962 Hit 'Wolverton Mountain', 90 (1923-2013)
Amedeo Iorio, Mechanical Engineer & Accordion Pioneer, 94 (1918-2013)
Gerald D. Klee, Psychiatrist & LSD Expert, 86 (1927-2013)
Michael P. Duffy, JPMorgan Chase Executive, 54 (1959-2013)
John J. Byrne, Former Chief of Geico Corporation, 80 (1932-2013)
Princess Lilian, Welsh-Born Princess of Sweden, 97 (1915-2013)
Ewald Heinrich von Kleist, Last Surviving Member of Main Plot to Kill Adolf Hitler, 90 (1922-2013)
Willy Switkes, Character Actor had Minor Riles in 'Tootsie', 'Taxi Driver' & Others, 83 (1929-2013)
Micky Moore, Lifelong Actor & Movie Director, 98 (1914-2013)
Sybil Christopher, Theater Producer & Ex-Wife of Richard Burton, 83 (1929-2013)
Clive Burr, Former Drummer of Heavy Metal Icons Iron Maiden, 56 (1957-2013)
Jack Curran, High School Coaching Great, 83 (1929-2013)
Jack Greene, Grand Ole Opry Star Sang 'There Goes My Everything', 83 (1930-2013)
Robert E. Relyea, Film Producer & Director, Includes 'The Magnificent Seven', 82 (1930-2013)
Booth Gardner, Two-Term Washington State Governor, 76 (1936-2013)
Larcenia Bullard, Democrat Who Served Two Decades in Florida House & Senate, 65 (1947-2013)
Frank Thornton, Played Captain Peacock in Hit TV Sitcom 'Are You Being Served?', 92 (1921-2013)
Steve Davis, Former Oklahoma Quarterback, 60 (1953-2013)
Bobbie Smith, Former Lead Singer of Soul Music Group The Spinners, 76 (1936-2013)
Jason Molina, Alternative Singer-Songwriter, 39 (1974-2013)
Jim Barrett, Influential California Vintner & Owner of Chateau Montelena Winery, 86 (1926-2013)
Rob Komosa, Paralyzed Football Player & Inspirational Figure, 30 (1982-2013)
Henry Bromell, Emmy Award-Winning Producer of TV Series 'Homeland', 65 (1947-2013)
Fran Warren, Recorded 1947 Classic 'A Sunday Kind of Love', 87 (1926-2013)
Zillur Rahman, Bangladesh's Figurehead President, 84 (1929-2013)
James Herbert, Best-Selling British Horror Writer, 69 (1943-2013)
Pietro Mennea, Sprinter who Held World Record for 200 Meters for Nearly 17 Years, 60 (1952-2013)
George Lowe, Last Surviving Member of First Team to Climb Mount Everest in 1953, 89 (1924-2013)
Rise Stevens, Mezzo-Soprano Opera Star, 99 (1913-2013)
Harry Reems, Actor Co-Starred in 1972 Cult Classic Porn Film 'Deep Throat', 65 (1947-2013)
Harlon Hill, Former Star Receiver for the Chicago Bears, 80 (1932-2013)
Bebo Valdes, Renowned Cuban Pianist, 94 (1918-2013)
Chinua Achebe, Acclaimed Nigerian-Born Author, 82 (1930-2013)
Helen Kutsher, Famed Catskill Hotelier, 89 (1923-2013)
Ray Williams, Former Basketball Player for New York Knicks, 58 (1954-2013)
Joe Weider, Legendary Figure in Bodybuilding & Fitness Guru, 93 (1919-2013)
Richard Petrosino, Newsday Employee & Collating Mechanic, 57 (1955-2013)
John Cardinale, Longtime Raceway Executive, 47 (1965-2013)
Herschel Schacter, Prominent Religious & Community Leader Rabbi, 95 (1917/1918-2013)
Anthony Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Liberal Columnist for New York Times, 85 (1927-2013)
Virgil Trucks, Threw 2 No-Hitters for Detroit Tigers in 1952, 95 (1917-2013)
Wayne Fleming, Longtime NHL Assistant Coach, 62 (1950-2013)
Hjalmar Andersen, Norweigan Speedskater Took Gold at 1952 Winter Olympics, 90 (1923-2013)
Fay Kanin, Emmy-Winning & Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter, 95 (1917-2013)
Deke Richards, Songwriter & Producer for Motown, 68 (1944-2013)
Gordon Stoker, Member of the Jordanaires Group who Backed Elvis Presley, 88 (1925-2013)
Tom Boerwinkle, Former Chicago Bulls Center, 67 (1945-2013)
Don Payne, Emmy-Winning Writer & Producer for 'The Simpsons', 48 (1964-2013)
Soraya Jimenez, Mexico's First Female Olympic Gold Medalist, 35 (1977-2013)
Richard Griffiths, Actor Best Known as Uncle Vernon in 'Harry Potter' Films, 65 (1947-2013)
Bob Teague, One of New York City's First Black TV Journalists, 84 (1929-2013)
James M. Nabrit, Fighter for Civil Rights, 80 (1932-2013)
Phil Ramone, Grammy-Winning Recording Pioneer & Producer, 79 (1934-2013)
Irving McKnight Sr., World War II Veteran, 87 (1925-2013)
Elwin Wilson, Remorseful Ex-Racist, 76 (1936-2013)
Robert Breeden, National Geographic Book Executive, 87 (1925-2013)
Barbara Donald, Noted Jazz Trumpeter, 70 (1942-2013)
Mal Moore, Ex-Alabama Athletic Director Coached Under Bear Bryant, 73 (1939-2013)
Moses Blah, Served as Liberia's President for Two Months, 65 (1947-2013)
Greg Willard, Longtime NBA Referee, 54 (1958-2013)
Helen Campbell, Chaperone of Michigan's Famed Muskegon Lassies, 97 (1915-2013)
Jack Pardee, All-Pro NFL Linebacker & Coach, 76 (1936-2013)
Shain Gandee, Star of MTV Reality Show 'Buckwild', 21 (1991-2013)
Reid Flair, Son of WWE Wrestler Ric Flair, 25 (1987-2013)
Robert J. 'Bob' Clarke, Famed Illustrator for MAD Magazine, 87 (1926-2013)
Chuck Fairbanks, Former Coach for New England Patriots, 79 (1933-2013)
Jane Henson, Former Wife & Business Partner of Jim Henson, 78 (1934-2013)
Ralph Sanchez, Founded Grand Prix of Miami & Homestead-Miami Speedway, 64 (1948-2013)
William H. Ginsburg, Monica Lewinsky's Lawyer, 70 (1940-2013)
Pasha P183, Prominent Russian Graffiti Artist Compared to Britain's Bansky, 29 (1983-2013)
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Author & Oscar-Winning Screenwriter, 85 (1927-2013)
Stan Isaacs, Former Sports Reporter for Newsday, 83 (1929-2013)
Barbara Piasecka Johnson, Heir to the Johnson & Johnson Fortune, 76 (1937-2013)
Carmine Infantino, Award-Winning Comic Book Artist & Editor, 87 (1925-2013)
Roger Ebert, Renowned Film Critic, Screenwriter & Journalist, 70 (1942-2013)
Jim Mees, Emmy-Winning Set Designer for 'Star Trek', 57 (1955-2013)
Robert Zildjian, Cymbal Craftsman & Founded Sabian Company, 89 (1923-2013)
Robert de Poto, Attorney & World War II Veteran, 87 (1925-2013)
Milo O'Shea, Irish Character Actor of Stage, Film & Television, 86 (1926-2013)
Lilly Pulitzer, Palm Beach Socialite-turned-Fashion Designer, 81 (1931-2013)
Anne Smedinghoff, Diplomat Killed in Southern Afghanistan Terrorist Attack, 25 (1987-2013)
Les Blank, Acclaimed Documentary Filmmaker, 77 (1935-2013)
Tom Galeazzi, Longtime Basketball Coach & Mentor, 75 (1937-2013)
Margaret Thatcher, Former British Prime Minister, 87 (1925-2013)
Annette Funicello, Beloved Mouseketeer & Star of Films, 70 (1942-2013)
Sara Montiel, One of Spain's Most Important Film Actresses, 85 (1928-2013)
Chelone Miller, Younger Brother of Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller, 29 (1983-2013)
Richard Brooker, Stuntman who Played Jason Voorhees in 'Friday the 13th Part III', 58 (1954-2013)
Robert G. Edwards, Nobel Prize-Winner in Vitro Fertilization Research, 87 (1925-2013)
Besedka Johnson, Became Actress at age 85 in 2012's 'Starlet', 87 (1926-2013)
Dave O'Hara, Boston Sports Writer with the Associated Press for 50 Years, 86 (1926-2013)
Andy Johns, Sound Engineer/Producer for Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones & Others, 62 (1950-2013)
Grady Hatton, Managed the Houston Astros in the 1960s, 90 (1922-2013)
Jonathan Winters, Groundbreaking Improv Comedian, 87 (1925-2013)
Martyl Langsdorf, Creator of the Widely Popular Doomsday Clock, 96 (1917-2013)
Paolo Soleri, Architect & One-Time Apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, 93 (1919-2013)
Mickey Rose, Comedy Writer for Films & Television, 77 (1935-2013)
Frosty Westering, Coached Four National College Football Titles, 85 (1927-2013)
Maria Tallchief, Legendary New York City Ballet Prima Ballerina, 88 (1925-2013)
Jimmy 'Fast Fingers' Dawkins, Chicago Bluesman, 76 (1936-2013)
Carmen Weinstein, Leader of Egypt's Dwindling & Aging Jewish Community, 82 (1930-2013)
Deanne Barkley, Influential Television Executive, 82 (1931-2013)
Dr. Hilary Koprowski, Developed 1st Successful Oral Vaccination for Polio, 96 (1916-2013)
Colin Davis, Former Principal Conductor of London Symphony Orchestra, 85 (1927-2013)
Bob Perry, Republican Mega-Donor, 80 (1932-2013)
Chi Cheng, Bassist for Grammy-Winning Rock Band the Deftones, 42 (1970-2013)
Charlie Wilson, Former U.S. Representative for Eastern Ohio, 70 (1943-2013)
George McArthur, Noted Globe-Trotting Journalist, 88 (1924-2013)
Frank Bank, Actor Played Lumpy in Classic Sitcom 'Leave It To Beaver', 71 (1942-2013)
Pat Summerall, Former NFL Player-Turned-Broadcaster, 82 (1930-2013)
George B. Shea, Noted Billy Graham Singer, 104 (1909-2013)
Richard LeParmentier, Actor, Best Known as Admiral Motti in 'Star Wars', 66 (1946-2013)
Francis Lawrence, Former Rutgers University President, 75 (1937-2013)
Pedro Ramirez Vasquez, Architect Designed Some of Mexico's Biggest Landmarks, 94 (1919-2013)
Storm Thorgerson, Designed Album Art for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin & Others, 69 (1944-2013)
Alfredo Guevara, Cuban Filmmaker, Intellectual & Cultural Leader, 87 (1925-2013)
Al Neuharth, Founder of USA Today Newspaper, 89 (1924-2013)
T.J. 'Tommy' Kelly, Hall of Fame Horse Trainer, 93 (1919-2013)
Errol Mann, Kicker for 1977 Super Bowl Champion Oakland Raiders, 71 (1941-2013)
E.L. Konigsburg, Newbery Medal-Winning Author of Children's Literature, 83 (1930-2013)
Anna Merz, Visionary Rhino Conservationist, 81 (1931-2013)
Robert E. Holding, Billionaire Owner of Sinclair Oil, 86 (1926-2013)
David Shears, British Journalist for the London Daily Telegraph, 86 (1926-2013)
Richie Havens, Folk Singer & Guitarist who Made His Mark at Woodstock, 72 (1941-2013)
Chrissy Amphlett, Lead Singer for Australian Rock Group the Divinyls, 53 (1959-2013)
Jagdish Sharan Verma, Former Indian Chief Justice, 80 (1933-2013)
Robert W. Edgar, Represented Pennsylvania for Six Terms, 69 (1943-2013)
Shamshad Begum, Legendary Indian Singer, 94 (1919-2013)
Allan Arbus, Actor, Best Known as Wisecracking Sidney Freedman on 'M*A*S*H', 95 (1918-2013)
Laurie Kay, Pilot who Flew in Low Over Johannesburg Stadium in 1995, 67 (1945-2013)
Kathryn Davis, Philanthropist in Preserving the Hudson River, 106 (1907-2013)
Humphrey Patton, Served with Toskegee Airmen in World War II, 93 (1919-2013)
Leo Branton Jr., Lawyer who Helped Angela Davis win 1972 Murder Case, 91 (1922-2013)
Rick Camp, Former Pitcher for Atlanta Braves, 59 (1953-2013)
George Jones, Country Music Superstar, 81 (1931-2013)
Dr. Antronette K. Yancey, UCLA Public Health Professor, 55 (1957-2013)
Tom Bartman, Republican who Helped End Forced Busing in L.A. Schools, 67 (1945-2013)
John Galardi, Founder of Famed Der Wienerschnitzel Hot Dog, 75 (1938-2013)
Sal Castro, L.A. Teacher who Helped Instigate 1968 Protests, 79 (1933-2013)
Patricia McCormick, One of the World's First Female Bullfighters, 83 (1929-2013)
Dr. Francois Jacob, Nobel Prize-Winning Biologist, 92 (1920-2013)
Alan Wood, Provided Iwo Jima Flag in World War II, 90 (1922-2013)
Maxine A. Smith, Influential Memphis Civil Rights Leader, 83 (1929-2013)
William Guy, North Dakota's Longest Serving Governor, 93 (1919-2013)
Marvin Chauvin, Chief Executive of WLNY-TV on Long Island, 77 (1935-2013)
George Bunn, Expert & Leading Figure of Arms Control, 87 (1925-2013)
Mary Thom, Prominent New York City Feminist Icon, 68 (1944-2013)
Aloysius Jin Luxian, Shanghai Bishop Revived Catholic Church in China's Financial Hub, 96 (1916-2013)
Ruth Lucas, 1st African-American Woman Promoted as Colonel in U.S. Air Force, 92 (1920-2013)
Stanley Dashew, Inventor & Entrepreneur who Revolutionized Credit Card Industry, 96 (1916-2013)
Janos Starker, Grammy Award-Winning Cellist, 88 (1924-2013)
Barry Fey, Music Promoter Brought Big Names to Colorado, 73 (1939-2013)
Jack Shea, Directed 'The Jeffersons' & Other Television Hits, 84 (1928-2013)
Sandor Racz, Hungarian Labor Activist, 80 (1933-2013)
Arvarh Strickland, University of Missouri's First Tenured Black Professor, 82 (1930-2013)
Edward Friedman, Prominent Scientist, 87 (1926-2013)
Bernard Kaufman, Musician, Played for 'Perry Como' & 'Tonight' Shows, 98 (1914-2013)
Leopold Engleitner, Oldest Known Survivor of World War II Concentration Camps, 107 (1905-2013)
Deanna Durbin, One of Hollywood's Earliest Superstars, 91 (1921-2013)
Mike Gray, Author, Activist & Documentarian Wrote 'China Syndrome' Screenplay, 77 (1935-2013)
Gordon Gayle, World War II Veteran who Received Navy Cross, 95 (1917-2013)
George Horse Capture, Native American Activist, Curator & Professor, 75 (1937-2013)
Margaret Groening, Mother of 'Simpsons' Creator Matt Groening, 94 (1919-2013)
Ken Higgins, Boeing Test Pilot & Advanced Aviation Safety Advocate, 71 (1942-2013)
Daoma Winston, Washington-Based Author, Wrote 1975's 'The Haversham Legacy', 90 (1922-2013)
James Tolbert, Pioneering Lawyer in Hollywood, 86 (1926-2013)
Joseph L. Maniglia, My Longtime Backyard Neighbor & Friend, 87 (1925-2013)