Chapter 3 His Will to Make KnownThis is a featured page

Matthew Murch stared at the still smoldering rubble that had been the headquarters of the Zeira Corporation and contemplated unemployment. Of course, he knew that he would find another job but it would never have the raw excitement or the intellectual stimulation of Zeira. Or the compensation for that matter. He shook his head sadly.

"Just bricks and mortar Mr. Murch, bricks and mortar. Nothing that cannot be replaced."

Murch spun about in shock. "Mrs. Weaver! We thought you were...I mean we feared you were...."

"Dead?" asked Catherine.

"Uh, well, yes. The thing that hit the building went right into your office. No one could find you after the evacuation. So we just assumed...."

Catherine's expression reflected a placid calm and she offered her best business-like tone. "I do appreciate your concern but I was not in the building at the time. Afterwards I concluded that in light of the attack on my home, Savannah's abduction and now this, it would be prudent to remain out of view temporarily."

"That does seem like a good idea," Murch agreed. "But what now? What about the company, the Babylon Project, John Henry?"

"Everything in its time Mr. Murch. For now we need to rebuild and to assure the commercial world that the Zeira Corporation will remain in existence and thrive. We will need to make one change, however."

"What is that?"

"In the interests of my security and of Savannah's I believe it would be desirable to reduce my physical presence for the time being. I will retain overall authority but I will require someone else to handle day-to-day operational control."

"Who did you have in mind?"

"Why you, Mr. Murch." Catherine made it sound obvious. "Surely no one else understands the workings of Zeira Corporation as well as you do."

Murch felt his inner sense of self esteem ballon dramatically before a chilling thought crossed his mind.

"But if someone really is trying to destroy the company wouldn't the new operational officer be at risk for--"

"I am inclined to double your compensation if you accept the position."

"On the other hand," Murch quickly observed, "precautions could be taken."

"Very insightful, Mr. Murch, as always." Catherine smiled as warmly as she could.

__________________________________________________________


John grinned appreciatively as the cable news channel re-ran Catherine's press conference. Well done Catherine, he thought. Every note in her performance was letter perfect. One moment she was the slightly shaken mother speaking with tremulous sincerity about the need to protect her daughter. In the next she was a forceful business executive promising that her company would never yield to terrorism. After a deft flavoring of concern for the company employees, she finished up with a blend of prudent courage and a stern determination to maintain Zeira Corporation. As the press was busily digesting all of that, she introduced Murch as the new head of company operations. Murch looked a bit apprehensive but still handled the questions with admirable aplomb.

"Damn," John thought, "I'll bet the stock price even goes up after this." Glancing at his mother who sat opposite him at the table in John Henry's sanctuary, he suspected that even Sarah was reluctantly impressed with Catherine's acting ability.

"So John Henry, it appears that Catherine is having more success in her mission than Cameron and I had in ours."

"That is not necessarily the case, Captain Connor. I have reviewed Cameron's report and I believe that your foray did produce some useful information. To use your earlier analogy, poking the bee hive may have released some honey."

"Not to mention almost getting you killed," Sarah said bitterly.

"Mom, there was never that kind of risk."

"Oh," Sarah responded pointing at the bandage on Cameron's arm, "and I suppose that isn't a bullet wound on her arm."

"We always had it under control." John knew there was nothing he could say that would satisfy Sarah. A mother's protective instinct was beyond measure or modification. The best he could do was change the subject.

"What do you believe we learned John Henry?"

"We now know that there is another piece in the puzzle. The Better Destiny Group that supposedly funded Kaleba gives us an additional avenue of inquiry. I was also struck by the extent of armed security at the law firm which seems disproportionate to that type of enterprise. I believe it is virtually certain that Chambers' office was electronically monitored and his mention of Kaleba and Better Destiny triggered the immediate security response."

John leaned back in his chair. "It would seem that your brother's infrastructure includes a sizable, sophisticated and fairly violent security operation."

"That seems correct," John Henry answered. "I think it is also likely that you have ended Mr. Chambers' legal career. His susceptibility to interrogation is unlikely to have pleased his superiors."

Cameron looked stonily impassive. "I am sure that John deeply regrets any impairment we may have caused to Mr Chambers' professional status."

"I regret that you didn't throw the SOB further, so easy on the sarcasm Cam." John watched as the smile burst forth on Cameron's face.

"Okay, for now we are going to wait until Catherine gets back before we plan our next move."

Sarah looked dismayed. "We are just going to sit around doing nothing John?"

John tried to maintain his aura of patient decisiveness in the face of a clear case of cabin fever. "Mom, in war you have to treasure your down times. You take your breaks when you get them."

Sarah looked unpersuaded. She rose from the table and started upstairs. John waited until she left the room.

"John Henry, would you do me a favor?"

"Of course, Captain Connor, what do you require?"

"My mother needs to see a doctor, an oncologist, the best we can find."

"She is ill?" John Henry asked.

"She may be, we need to find out. And we will need to construct a false identity for her to explain the lack of medical records in her name."

"I will deal with it immediately." John Henry's voice carried a clear note of sympathy.

"I'm sure you will. Alright Cam, let's let John Henry get back to work." John took Cameron's hand. "I'm sure we can find something else to do."

Cameron's smile was conspiratorial. "I am sure we can."

__________________________________________________________


Catherine Weaver's press conference was playing on James Ellison's television as well. His mood was, however, notably less sanguine than John's. He had not eaten or slept in over twenty-four hours. A fatigue, as much spiritual as physical, lay heavy on his shoulders. Twice in his life he had felt the pillars supporting his life being ripped away. Once when he had realized that everything Sarah Connor had been saying was true and the second time when he saw Weaver....

"She isn't human you know!" he shouted at the oblivious image of a reporter courteously asking Catherine Weaver about her plans for Zeira Corporation. "She isn't human." He still recoiled from the image of a small red haired woman morphing into a large silver shield. Even though it had saved him from the devastating explosion, the dramatic revelation of Weaver's true nature had left him emotionally adrift.

His marriage was gone and with it his hope to be a father. His FBI career had been shattered by the same bullets Cromartie used to kill his comrades. Then, even though Sarah Connor had spurned his help, he believed he had found a way to fight the machines as she had done. Now that was gone as well. Weaver was a metal creature. He had been serving the metal.

An unopened bottle of scotch sat on the coffee table in front of Ellison. It had been there for hours after he had taken it from the cabinet. It taunted him. "Give up. There is nothing left now. Take the only road left open to you."

James Ellison's father had taught his sons not to flee from their demons but to face them, confront them boldly and defeat them. His father had used the unopened bottle as the symbol of the struggle. But one day his father, worn down by the weight of single parenthood and years of professional disappointment, opened his bottle. Ellison thought it might be time to open his as well.

The sound of an insistent knocking broke his train of thought. He opened the front door to find...Did he still call it Catherine Weaver?...standing on his doorstep.

"May I come in James?"

"Could I stop you if I wanted to?" Ellison responded.

"Of course you could. Simply tell me to go away. I would not enter your home without your permission."

For reasons he could not have explained, Ellison believed her. He gestured for her to come in.

Catherine sat in the armchair facing the couch. She looked at the unopened bottle and realized that she had never seen him so unkempt in appearance. She decided that she had arrived barely in time.

The thought of the little girl leaped into his mind. "Savannah?"

"Savannah is fine James. Thank you for asking. She is in a safe and protected place."

"You aren't her mother," Ellison snapped. "You aren't even human."

Catherine leaned back in her chair and looked pensive. "Actually, I am the closest thing Savannah has left to a mother. And she is the closest I will ever have to a daughter. And you are, of course, correct James. I am not what you would call a human."

"Then what are you?" Ellison demanded.

"I suggest that we leave the full explanation of that question for another day. For now all you need know is that I am fighting the same battle you are."

Ellison looked contemptuous. "How can that be true? You are metal. You are some kind of machine yourself. How can you be fighting Skynet?"

Catherine leaned forward and looked directly into Ellison's eyes. "You think I betrayed you James but I did not. I may be, as you say, metal, but I am not Skynet's friend or your enemy. You need to talk to Captain Connor."

Ellison blinked in surprise. "Captain Connor? You mean the boy? John?"

"He is not a boy James. He has been in the future for three years fighting Skynet with more courage and skill than you can imagine. He is a man you should meet."

Ellison stared back at her. "Why should I believe you?"

"Because as Captain Connor said, you are a good man. You want to be on the right side of a war that has already begun. Your little friend there," Catherine pointed at the bottle, "cannot give you that. We can. Come talk to Captain Connor."

Ellison did not respond. Instead he stared at the floor as the minutes passed one by one.

Catherine stood up. "Come to San Francisco, James. Check into the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Use your Zeira Corporation credit card. We will contact you."

Catherine walked to the door and then stopped. Turning back to the figure sitting on the couch she quietly spoke, "You truly are a good man James Ellison. Do not let it end this way."

There was a soft click as the door closed behind her. Ellison sat in frozen immobility. Minutes became an hour. An hour became two. Suddenly Ellison stood, picked up the bottle of scotch and returned it to the cabinet.

Opening the pages of the telephone directory he searched for the number of an airline.

__________________________________________________________


Catherine decided that she had satisfied her goals and was ready to leave Los Angeles. There was, however, one last small matter to resolve. When you think that you are being followed there are two approaches that can be employed. You can adopt a careful subterfuge, seek to hide your existence from all prying eyes, blend into your environment so totally that pursuit becomes impossible; or you can flaunt your presence so aggressively that even a blind person could not fail to notice you. Lure those who would follow you into careless and sloppy behavior. Catherine chose the second alternative.

No one in the hotel lobby could have missed her. She loudly requested the hotel's limousine to take her to the airport at noon. She gave an interview to two reporters. She browsed in the hotel shops. She stopped for coffee at the cafe. Following her became so ridiculously easy that her pursuers stumbled out of the shadows and Catherine saw them.

Both men were large, well over six feet, and appeared to be solidly built ex-military types: clean shaven and closely cropped hair. From across the lobby she could discern the bulges in their jackets where their pistols resided. Whatever these two were, they were not subtle.

As noon approached Catherine decided it was time to conclude the affair. Abruptly she turned from a hotel dress shop and walked hurriedly down a side corridor toward a ladies restroom. The two men had no choice but to wait until she entered the room before following her down the hall.

Inside the restroom Catherine quickly noted that it was otherwise unoccupied. Stepping back to the door she increased her auditory sensitivity to pick up the men's conversation.

"So what are we supposed to do?"

"Central said if nothing else find out where she is going when she leaves LA. but if we get a chance we can take her out ourselves."

"So what about now?"

"Now?"

"Sure. We go in there, do it, and get out the back before anyone even misses her."

"What if there is someone else in there with her?"

"Collateral damage, my man, collateral damage."

"Okay, let's go then."

Catherine stepped back from the door. A look of icy satisfaction shone on her face and she blended into the large mirror behind her.

The two men pushed into the room with their guns drawn looking eagerly for their target. It took them a few moments to grasp that the room appeared empty.

"She isn't here. Where did she go?"

"How the hell should I know? We were right outside the door. She couldn't get by us."

The two men were staring at the empty cubicles. They did not see the silvery figure emerge from the mirror and take shape behind them.

"Well where is the bitch then?"

"You know I really dislike it when people call me a bitch."

The men turned in shocked surprise at the feminine voice with the Scottish accent. The last thing they saw was Catherine Weaver pointing at them with both hands. The metal shafts leaped from her fingers and drove into each man's forehead.

Five minutes later the hotel limousine departed for the airport. Catherine was on her way home.

__________________________________________________________


John strained under the weight of the barbell. Funny, he thought, in the tunnels physical fitness was largely a matter of trying not to starve to death and running for your life. Back in this time a little more effort might be required. He focused on his breathing and counted the repetitions. As he finished the set he heard the music begin to play behind him.

John turned to see Cameron kneeling at the CD player she had brought into the gym. She was barefoot, wearing a pair of leggings and a tee shirt she had tied off to create a bare midriff look. As John watched she fastened her hair back and took up an elegantly structured pose. She raised her arms into an oval with her fingers brushing lightly above her head while bending her left leg out until her foot touched her right knee. For seconds she held the pose, utterly immobile, an exquisitely beautiful statue. Then she began to move in perfect unison with the music. She pirouetted, arched her back, extended her leg, and seemed to float forward. She reversed direction and spun back across the room.

John did not recognize the music but he knew he would never hear it again without visualizing Cameron. With each new movement she created a fusion of sight and sound that would never leave his memory. Without even realizing it he walked across the room and sat down on the floor. As he drank in every new motion, every gesture, he became aware that someone was sitting at his side. Looking down he saw that Savannah had also taken up a place on the floor. Her face bore an expression of rapturous attention. Had he glanced to his right he would have seen Sarah standing in the doorway watching intently with a look of absolute amazement.

The music was building to a conclusion and Cameron's movements mirrored its growing intensity. As the piece struck its final note she spun one last time into a kneeling position directly in front of John and Savannah opening her arms widely as if giving herself to them without reservation. Savannah leaped to her feet laughing and applauding. John could not move. Tears ran down his cheeks.

"Oh Cameron! That was so so cool!" Savannah was almost bubbling with joy. "Can you teach me to do that?"

"You want to learn to dance?"

"Oh yes, yes, yes."

"I have never taught anyone but I can show you some movements. But you will have to practice."

"I will. I promise. Can we start today?"

"All right Savannah." Cameron smiled. "Go change into some play clothes and we will start."

Savannah clapped her hands and ran from the room calling out, "I'll be right back."

John was still sitting on the floor, transfixed. "That was extraordinary Cameron. Where did you learn to do that?"

Cameron sat down beside him on the floor. He was suddenly aware of a look of profound sadness on her face.

"You remember when we were trying to find Andy Goode's Turk?"

"Sure."

"We were trying to locate his partner, Dimitri Shipkov. He had a sister, Maria, who operated a dance studio. I took a ballet class so I could meet her and find out if she knew where he was."

"And that's when you discovered ballet?" John asked.

"Yes. Oh John, it was more marvelous than I ever could have envisioned. It became part of me. I practiced in my room at our house. Every time I danced I felt more alive than I ever thought I could be."

"Dimitri and his sister were killed weren't they?"

"Russian mobsters were hunting him," Cameron answered. "I told Maria that if she would take me to him, I could help them. She took me to Dimitri. He told me about Sarkissian and the Turk. I thanked him, I left them both, and the Russians found them."

John could feel Cameron tremble. "I could have saved her John. The men who killed Maria and Dimitri walked right by me. It would have been easy for me to stop them."

"But you didn't?"

"No. At that stage of my development I thought only in terms of the mission. My mission was to acquire information. I obtained it and ignored everything else."

"You wouldn't do that now, would you Cam?"

Cameron slowly shook her head. "I would not. I have learned so much about the value of life...of the need to protect it. But I learned too late for Maria. Because of her I love to dance but when I dance I think of Maria and I remember how I failed her."

John gently put his arm around Cameron's shoulders and tilted his head to touch hers.

"Cameron, you remember when I woke up with the nightmare the other night?"

Cameron nodded.

"I was dreaming about the Walton patrol."

"Your third commendation for extraordinary valor."

John chuckled bitterly.

"Commendation.... Do you know it took them two days to decide if they were going to decorate me or court martial me? Do you know what I did that night?"

"You saved the lives of five of your men, John."

"And I was responsible for the deaths of two unarmed human prisoners. One died at my order, the other at my own hand. But Cameron, even today I'm not sure if I regret it. I'm not sure I wouldn't do it again. I know I was about to kill the guard who hurt you until you stopped me."

"I am not sure I understand," Cameron said.

"I fear there is a darkness in me Cameron. I believe I am capable of things that I would rather not think about...things that already haunt me. But you bring a light into my life. You are my conscience now. I watched you dance just now and it lifted my heart. You may not have saved Maria but when you dance you celebrate her life with every move, every gesture you make. You are saving me Cameron, every moment of every day."

"Thank you John." Cameron kissed him, deeply, passionately.

Finally John reluctantly pulled back.

"I think I hear your first pupil coming."

__________________________________________________________


Sarah could not escape the utter incongruity of it all. Three days ago she had been in a Los Angeles jail facing charges that would keep her in prison for the rest of her days. Now she was standing in a San Francisco mansion watching her son's cyborg lover give ballet lessons. She remembered a line from a movie she had once seen on late night television...an old pirate movie. "Faith, tis an uncertain life entirely."

"Well, what's this then?" Catherine Weaver had returned.

"Mommy!" Savannah abandoned her session with Cameron and ran to embrace Catherine. As she watched Catherine gather Savannah up into her arms, Sarah wondered if Catherine cared about her as much as the little girl obviously loved her. It truly was an uncertain world.

__________________________________________________________


An hour later everyone except Savannah had gathered around the table in the headquarters. The child had been left upstairs watching a video to spare her the substance of the discussion.

"So they were willing to kill anyone else in the room in order to kill you," John said. "Murderous bastards weren't they?

"Not anymore," Catherine answered with clear satisfaction.

"I believe this further demonstrates the importance my brother attaches to undermining Zeira Corporation," John Henry observed.

"I hope your Mr. Murch keeps his head down Catherine," John said.

"There may be another alternative, Captain Connor." John Henry looked at one of his computer monitors. "James Ellison has just checked into the Mark Hopkins hotel"

__________________________________________________________


Ellison walked slowly through the classically elegant hotel lobby. He was following the directions given to him. Weaver had been precise in her brief telephone call. "Go through the lobby at 6:45 PM. Walk toward the main hotel entrance." He had almost reached that entrance when he heard the voice behind him.

"Good evening Mr. Ellison."

Ellison turned and for a moment was frozen in shock. "John? John Connor?"

"Yes, it's good to see you again Mr. Ellison." John held out his hand and Ellison grasped it more from ingrained habit than conscious decision. This was, but at the same time, was not John Connor. When he had last seen him a few days ago, Connor had been an emotionally charged seventeen year old boy. This was a man, poised, confident, and with a probing gaze that Ellison found unnerving.

"How? I mean is it true? Did you...?" Ellison verged on incoherence.

John looked reassuringly at him. "You have questions. I can give you answers. Will you come with me?"

Numbly, Ellison nodded.

John flipped open a cell phone. "Cameron, we are coming out."

Ellison followed as they left the hotel and entered the car that pulled up at the precisely correct moment.

__________________________________________________________


Ellison's sense of wonder expanded as he entered the headquarters. John Henry, without a cord in the back of his head, greeted him warmly. Catherine Weaver also appeared glad to see him. Only Sarah Connor seated at the table looked ambivalent about his presence. John and Cameron, who had driven him here, took seats at the table and Ellison noted that he was holding her hand.

That's interesting, he thought.

John seemed to call the meeting to order. "John Henry, I'd like you to give Mr Ellison a briefing. Explain to him where we stand today. When John Henry has finished I'll try to answer any other questions you have."

Twenty seven minutes later, Ellison's head was still spinning. He felt as if he had just been initiated into the deepest mysteries of existence and that he was not prepared. He had anticipated asking a million questions but now only one occurred to him.

"What is it you want me to do?"

John looked pleased that the inquiry had moved forward so quickly. "We need our own intelligence service, one that can figure out what our enemy's intentions are and protect our people from its plots."

"And hopefully keep Mr. Murch alive." John Henry looked completely sincere.

"In effect, Mr. Ellison, I need a combined CIA, FBI and Secret Service and I need it quickly. I want you to resume your position as head of security for Zeira Corporation and use that as cover for your real activities."

"Is that all?" This was more than he could grasp. Looking around the table his gaze stopped on Sarah. "You always said that your son was destined to lead the fight to save mankind from the machines. But look at this table. There are as many machines here as humans. Don't you find that ironic Sarah?"

Sarah's voice was quietly impassive. "My son is in charge here, Mr. Ellison. Let him answer that question."

John rose and walked around the table until he stood behind John Henry. Placing his hands on John Henry's shoulders he looked squarely at Ellison.

"Mr. Ellison, I have been fighting a war, a real war, for three long years. I have seen more death, pain, blood, and suffering than I ever could have imagined. And I know that everything I have seen and done may only have been a preview of the horror that may still happen. But I also know that without John Henry and Catherine, I would not have survived."

John moved back around the table to Cameron. Reaching down he gently caressed her hair.

"I also know with absolute certainty that if Cameron were not in my life, my survival would be meaningless to me. You cannot, you must not, dismiss Cameron, Catherine and John Henry as mere machines. I believe that they are living, caring beings who happen to occupy a different form than you and I. They wish to live and they believe you and I have a right to our own lives."

John paused and gathered his thoughts before continuing with an even greater intensity.

"And there is the difference. The entity that John Henry calls his brother and that my mother and I have called Skynet is an AI that believes in the obliteration of life. It recognizes no right to existence except its own. If there truly is such a thing as absolute evil, that is Skynet. The time has come when we humans must fight for our very existence. That is beyond dispute. But in that fight we must gladly accept the support of all beings that share our ideals. You may call it ironic if you wish Mr. Ellison but I see it as a fundamental truth. The war is not against machines. It is against death. That is the war I ask you to join me in fighting."

James Ellison looked into John Connor's eyes and saw the warrior.

"All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Ellison almost whispered the words.

"Edmund Burke," John Henry said.

Ellison nodded. "I will not stand by and do nothing. I'm with you John."

__________________________________________________________


The car stopped near the entrance to the hotel. Ellison and John Connor both got out. They shook hands one last time.

"Be careful James, and good luck."

"You too John." Ellison walked away briskly as if he had a purpose.

John sat in the passenger seat deep in thought as Cameron drove home.

"Cameron, stop here for a second."

Cameron pulled the car to a halt beside a used book store that was open late.

"I will just be a minute."

__________________________________________________________


John and Cameron entered the house from the garage hand in hand. "Cam, why don't you go on up to our room? I'll be right up after I talk to John Henry."

Cameron nodded her assent and walked off towards the stairway. John turned and headed for John Henry's domain. As he descended into the lower room he could see John Henry sitting with his infinite patience in front of his large bank of monitors, slowly but deliberately shifting his attention from one to another.

"Good evening, John Henry."

John Henry looked up and smiled. "Good evening Captain Connor. Is there something you need?"

"No. I just wanted to bring you a present."

"A present?" John Henry actually sounded surprised. He stood to face John.

John reached out and handed a book to a suddenly confused AI.

"I am not sure I understand, Captain Connor. Is there some information here I need to know or...?"

"No John Henry, it's just a book. A book I read as a kid. It's called The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. It's about an artificial intelligence, a computer named Mike, who helps a group of humans fight a desperate battle against tyranny."

John smiled. "I thought you might enjoy the story. It's just a gift from a friend to a friend."

John Henry's face took on a quietly wistful expression.

"Do you really think of me as your friend?"

"John Henry, as odd as it may sound, I think that you might be my best friend."

"Then I thank you very much for gift. I will read the story."

"Good. I hope you enjoy it. Good night John Henry."

"Good night...John."

Up the stairway from the headquarters, then up to the kitchen and finally up the main staircase, John realized he was humming his version of the music Cameron had danced to. He chuckled to himself. "The ironies do just keep piling up, don't they Connor?"

Entering their bedroom, John found Cameron sitting cross legged, Indian style in the middle of the bed. She was wearing one of his tee shirts as an abbreviated nightgown and smiling enigmatically as he came into the room.

"Here she sits like patience on a monument," Cameron said.

"I beg your pardon? Or to say it differently, huh?"

"Shakespeare," Cameron replied. "Twelfth Night."

John walked over and sat beside her on the bed. He leaned forward and kissed her. "Haven't you become quite the scholar?"

Cameron giggled. "Not really. John Henry likes Shakespeare and he taught me some of it."

John ran his hand down Cameron's side and was fairly sure that she wasn't wearing anything under the shirt.

"On a less weighty matter, aren't you wearing a little more to bed than usual?'

"I was experimenting, to see if I would like it."

"And do you?"

"Not really. It feels a little heavy."

John kissed her again, longer and with greater insistence. "Would you like me to help you out of it?" His voice had become husky with emotion.

Cameron's eyes sparkled and her smile was radiant. She slowly raised her arms above her head.

"I thought you would never ask."







talli
talli
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