Chapter 4 He Forgets Not His OwnThis is a featured page

It's all too domestic for words, Sarah thought. Here they were this odd little family all sitting together around the dining room table at breakfast. There the red haired shape-shifting terminator sat beside an angelic little girl who thought she was with her mother. The two were happily discussing the lessons the child expected to study today--home schooled by an AI of incalculable intelligence. Over there, her son sat in quiet conversation with his cyborg lover while they sipped their morning coffee. Sarah suspected that Cameron drank coffee just to share the morning ritual with John. And here I am, Sarah thought, still trying to grasp how much my world had changed in such a short time -- a short time at least in the way I measure it.

Sarah picked up a piece of toast from her plate and then put it back down. Once more she found that she simply had no appetite.

"Good morning everyone." All heads at the table turned in surprise. It was the first time that John Henry had ever come up from his covert domain hidden in the old fallout shelter.

"I am sorry to interrupt but I assumed you would want this immediately." John Henry pushed a file folder to the center of the table.

"Ms. Connor, you have an appointment with Doctor Bajhan Saluja at 9:30 AM tomorrow."

"A doctor," Sarah said, sounding confused. "Why do I need...?"

"Because I asked John Henry to set it up, Mom. Just because Cameron and I have been away doesn't mean we've forgotten anything. You aren't eating, you have lost weight."

John turned back to John Henry. "Doctor Saluja is an oncologist?"

"Yes," John Henry replied. "As near as I can determine, he is regarded as one of the best in his field."

John Henry looked at Sarah. "The file folder contains information establishing a false identity for you. It explains that you have been living in Europe and that you are in San Francisco to visit family. It should deflect any inquiry about the lack of medical records in your name."

Sarah started to protest but seeing the resolute expression on John's face she decided that resistance would be useless.

"All right, I'll go. I'll go!"

"Good," John said. "I'll take you."

John Henry looked anxious. "If I may suggest, John, that may not be a wise idea. Your mother is a wanted fugitive and both you and Cameron are mentioned in law enforcement communications as known associates. Your presence with her might increase the likelihood that she will be recognized."

"I am not going to let her go alone, John Henry."

"If I may suggest an alternative possibility," Catherine said. "If Sarah will allow me I will accompany her to her appointment."

Oh lord, it truly is an uncertain world, Sarah thought.

"Fine," she said, reaching out for the file folder to begin studying her new identity.

_________________________________________________________


Doctor Saluja made no attempt to conceal his concern. "Ms. Delacroix, the tests are not indicative of cancer but they do suggest a highly virulent infection that is rapidly spreading throughout your body. I believe that infection is a response to an external toxin that has been introduced into your system."

"Are you suggesting that my sister has been poisoned, Doctor?" Sarah glanced at Catherine who was seated beside her. Catherine now resembled an older more mature version of Sarah herself. Her expression looked to be one of sincere concern.

"That is actually a reasonably accurate statement, Mrs. Montoya."

Saluja returned his attention to Sarah. "You told my nurse that you were aware of the metallic device implanted in your breast?"

"Yes, my work involves highly sensitive industrial security. It was inserted as part of an investigation I was conducting. It no longer works."

Saluja seemed to accept the explanation.

"In my opinion it is almost certainly the source of your infection. The concentration of impaired blood cells increases as the proximity to that device decreases.

"What do you suggest we do then?" Sarah tried to sound resolute and courageous. At that moment she felt neither.

"The device must be removed immediately. There is a day surgery suite attached to this office and I can do the procedure myself. Then we shall begin a protocol of anti-infection medication. I must be candid. The drugs we will employ are highly potent and unpleasant side effects are virtually certain. I anticipate you will feel quite ill for the next seven to ten days. I suggest that you allow me to admit you to the hospital."

"No." Sarah responded instantly. "No!"

"My sister does not deal well emotionally with hospitals, Doctor. I assure you that I will be able to provide her with appropriate care at my home." As she spoke Catherine felt Sarah's hand brush against hers. Turning to look at her, Catherine saw Sarah nod in quiet appreciation.

Doctor Saluja did not appear happy but he elected not to press the point. "If that is what you wish. Please take a seat back in the waiting area and I will make the necessary preparations."

__________________________________________________________


As the car pulled into the garage Sarah realized how unpleasant the next few days were likely to be. Her breast throbbed, she felt waves of nausea roll over her while chills and sweats marched through her body in an endless procession. As she tried to step out of the car she felt her knees buckle. She would have fallen to the floor if an arm had not suddenly been around her waist holding her erect.

"Accepting help when you need it is not an act of weakness, Sarah," Catherine said. "Ask your son if you do not believe me."

Catherine had abandoned the elder sister facade and had returned to her Weaver persona. With her assistance Sarah walked slowly to the door into the house. As the door opened she saw that the reception committee had formed. John, Cameron, Savannah, and even John Henry were waiting with varying degrees of visible impatience. Catherine raised her hand to ward off any questions. "She will be alright, but now she needs to go to her room and lie down."

Sarah felt John's arms go around her as he kissed her forehead. Cameron gave her hand a quick squeeze and Savannah gently hugged her. John Henry offered a gentle sympathetic smile.

"Captain Connor, if you and Cameron will help your mother upstairs, I need to speak briefly with John Henry."

The little procession moved off. Sarah supported by John on one side and Cameron on the other was trailed by an entirely serious Savannah. As they were about to leave the room Sarah whispered to John. They stopped and Sarah turned to look back.

"Thank you Catherine."

"You are welcome Sarah."

__________________________________________________________


John Henry watched the data scroll across the computer screen. The chemical analysis was exactly what he had expected. John was not going to like this. Hearing footsteps coming down the stairs he realized that he was about to have an opportunity to test his last assumption.

"Good morning John Henry."

"Good morning John...Cameron. How is Sarah this morning?"

"Pretty much as the doctor predicted. She feels lousy so we decided not to stay very long in her room."

"Catherine made us leave," Cameron said.

"Yeah." John had a look of bemused surprise. "When did Catherine turn into Florence Nightingale?"

"I believe that she feels responsible since she assured the doctor that your mother would receive adequate care," John Henry replied.

"Oh, I think we have roared right past adequate. So what are you working on?"

"I fear that this is going to distress you John. I have been testing the transmitter that the Kaleba agent implanted in your mother when she was a captive."

John Henry held up the miniscule piece of metal between his finger and thumb.

John's expression became one of cold focused attention.

"Doctor Saluja's diagnosis was correct. This was the source of your mother's illness. It was coated multiple times with a toxic chemical compound. In that form it acted as if it were a time release medicinal capsule."

John Henry shook his head sadly. "The people that employed this device did not intend for Sarah to survive its use. I believe that it may have been removed barely in time. Based on the amount of toxin left on the transmitter I have concluded that in another week the poison would have caused irreversible damage.

John took the transmitter from John Henry and placed it in his palm. For a moment he stared at it and then clenched his fist. Cameron could tell that he was grasping it so tightly that it was cutting into his hand. Seeing a drop of blood she whispered into his ear. "John. Put it down, John, please."

As always Cameron could pull him back from the brink. He handed the transmitter back to John Henry and appeared to reach a decision .

"I think we are going to need something more than just the intelligence operation James Ellison is putting together. I am going to require a group of people willing to take part in more extreme action. Someone is going to answer for what they tried to do to my mother." John spoke the last sentence with a chilling precision.

Cameron moved in front of John and stared intently into his eyes. "If you are truly serious about this John, I know where to start."

"Where?"

"Chola," Cameron said. "To assemble what you want will require people who do not feel bound by legal constraints. Chola has links to that world." Cameron's voice was as resolute as John's had been.

"Do you think that she will help us?"

"Chola trusts me. I believe she will at least listen to us. We must go and see her."

"All right," John said. We'll go as soon as Mom is feeling better."

"If you have a project, I suggest you start on it immediately." So intent had they been on their conversation neither John nor Cameron had noticed Catherine enter the room.

"Are you trying to get rid of us Catherine?"

"Captain Connor, right now more than anything else your mother needs rest and quiet. Your presence in your current state of mind is needlessly agitating. If something requires your attention elsewhere--go. I promise you that I will see to Sarah's care."

John looked at Cameron who shrugged her shoulders. He turned to John Henry who tried with less success to mimic Cameron's gesture.

"Alright Nurse Nightingale, we will go. Pack a bag, Cam. We leave for LA tomorrow morning."

__________________________________________________________


"John, I believe that you missed your turn." Cameron was concerned.

"Really?"

"Yes, the turn off for I-80 is back there."

"What if I don't want I-80?" John asked.

"But John we have to go that way to get to Interstate 5."

"Backseat driver," John said.

"But I am not in the....Oh."

Cameron realized she was being teased when she heard John chuckle. She rarely fell into such literalisms anymore, but she had walked squarely into that one.

"We're going to drive Route 1, Cam, down the coast."

"It will take us much longer to get to Los Angeles that way."

"I know but I've always wanted to see the north coast. I may never have the chance again, so I want to see it now. I want to see it with you."

Cameron did not actually blush but it was close enough for John.

As they drove south the early morning fog burned away. The cloudless blue sky and the crystalline beauty of the Northern Pacific flowed into each other in the distant horizon. When they put the car windows down they could hear the waves pulsating against the shore as if the ocean itself were a living being. Recalling the devastated coastline around Los Angeles where most of his war had been fought, John mournfully understood that none of this exquisite natural beauty would survive If Judgment Day came. It would be lifetimes, if ever, before it would be this lovely again. Make a memory, John, he thought. Grasp the image, the mental picture, and put away where it can be recalled and cherished if the horror cannot be stopped.

At a sign for Wadell Creek Beach, John pulled off and parked. Taking Cameron by the hand he led her out onto a broad golden strand. The breeze was stiff from the sea and out in the bay the multi-colored sails of the windsurfers danced across the water. Down to their left two fishermen were tossing their lines and their hopes into the sea. Up the beach to their right a family was laying claim to the area around an outdoor grill. Let the picnicking begin. Make a memory.

Cameron, who was wearing her favorite jeans, boots, blouse and light jacket outfit walked to the water's edge. Bending down she touched a receding wave with her fingers.

"It's cold," she said.

"Yeah, the ocean is always sort of chilly up here."

Balancing herself against John, Cameron pulled off her boots and handed them to him. She bounced away walking barefoot in the surf while the waves splashed around her ankles. Suddenly she turned, and with an elegant kick she splashed some water on him. She smiled broadly and then turned to run up the beach. John gave chase but he knew that if Cameron were really running he would never get close to her. But he also suspected that today he would be allowed to pursue her until he caught her.

He actually did get close about fifty yards up the beach. Then she turned, ran back, and leaped into his arms. As she kissed him a loud whistle of appreciation came from one of the two boys in the picnicking family who were playing frisbee.

An errant throw, a gust of wind, and the frisbee flew in their direction. From a flat footed stance Cameron leaped into the air, caught the plastic disk and in one motion sent it whirling back to its young owner. As the frisbee sailed into his grasp the boy waved in open mouthed admiration. Make a memory, John.

As the day wore on John stopped again at a place known as Lovers Point north of Monterey. He had a vague recollection that the name really didn't refer to anything romantic but today that did not matter. He walked with Cameron along a natural stone peninsula that jutted out into the ocean. He wanted a memory of holding Cameron in his arms on Lovers Point. The memory was altered a bit when the large rogue wave crashed against the point showering them both in sea foam. Still, as he pushed her wet hair back out of her eyes and kissed her, John decided that this would do.

They had a little time to stroll the quaint streets of Monterey before checking into the Inn. The large window in their room provided them with a stunning view of sunset on the bay. John sat in the large armchair with Cameron curled in his lap watching the sun slide into the darkening horizon before they made love. As their bodies intertwined and their lips hungrily sought out each other, John realized that there was something of the first and the last each time they came together; the wild, unrestrained passion of the first now flavored with the growing knowledge of each other's desires from the last. Their love was simultaneously memory and promise.

In the morning John made a quick call back to San Francisco.

"Is everything alright?" Cameron asked.

"John Henry says Mom is still going through the side effects but Catherine thinks that it is slowly getting better. Savannah misses her ballet teacher."

Cameron smiled and then asked, "Where are we going today?"

"There's something I want you to see in Carmel just south of here."

An hour later they arrived at John's destination.

"What is this place, John?"

"This was once the main Catholic mission in Northern California. It has been restored and the church is supposed to have a beautiful altar."

"How do you know all this, John?"

"I read a guidebook once. Come on Cam."

The altar was in fact stunning, a large gothic creation adorned with ornate dark wooden carvings that filled the front of the church. John sat down with Cameron in a pew near the middle of the sanctuary. The atmosphere was unmistakably one of quiet reverence.

Cameron felt an uncertainty about religion. As a human social institution she understood the concept but as a matter of belief or faith she remained confused. Clearly, many humans embraced religious faith as a means of linking what they believed to be their immortal souls with a benevolent creator. Others simply did not possess that faith at all. Cameron knew that her original creator was anything but benevolent while the question of her soul seemed unanswerable. But as she watched John bow his head she decided that despite her failure to understand a quiet respect was still appropriate.

As they left the church Cameron asked whether he had prayed for Sarah.

"Yes, I did," John replied.

"John, do you think that I have a soul?"

John froze in mid-step and took her face between his hands. "Cameron, if you do not then no one does. Do you know what else I prayed for?"

"No," Cameron replied.

"I prayed that I would always be able to be worthy of you."

Cameron smiled slyly. "Well, that does give you something to aspire to."

Got me again, John thought.

The two-lane road south from Carmel through Big Sur offered staggeringly beautiful ocean views on their right. John did, however, feel a need to pay some extra attention to the road. Then about thirty miles south of Monterey he abruptly turned right off the highway.

"Where are we going now, John?"

"The beach at the end of this road is supposed to be something special."

After parking they walked toward the beach. Cameron suddenly cried out. "John, look! The sand is purple."

"It's the minerals that leach out of the rocks," John said. "It's supposed to get darker as you go north. Come on, let's go look."

They had walked a short distance up the beach when a male figure abruptly darted by them and dove into the surf.

"John, that man was naked."

"As cold as the water is here, I doubt that he'll stay in very long."

"But John, he was naked."

"I think they allow nude bathing in this area."

Cameron grinned and touched the top button of her blouse. "Really? Maybe we..."

"Don't even think about it, Cam."

"I thought you liked ogling my nude body."

"I do," John said. "But that's a pleasure I'd rather not share with the rest of the male population of Northern California."

"Selfish." Cameron's smile was positively wicked.

"When it comes to you, always. Come on, we should start back to the car."

When they reached the point on the beach near the parking area, they turned for one last lingering look at the sea. John stepped behind Cameron and gently folded her back into his arms. As she allowed herself to slip fully into his embrace, Cameron sensed the inherent contradiction. Her physical prowess exceeded his in every way but in his arms she felt safer and more protected at that moment than at any other time in her existence. She tilted her head back against his shoulder as he leaned forward to whisper into her ear.

"Cameron."

"Yes John?"

"Will you marry me?"

Cameron spun around as if she had received an electric shock. "John, you don't have to...I mean it isn't necessary..."

"Cameron, shhh." John lightly touched her lips with his fingertip. "That was not a complex question. It does not require analysis. The answer is either yes or no. Will...you..marry me?"

"Yes."

Make a memory, John, make a memory.

___________________________________________________________


They stopped in front of a small wood frame house.

"Is this where Chola lives?" John asked.

Cameron nodded. "This is the address John Henry gave me."

"You go in and talk to her. After you have prepared her for the fact that I am three years older than I was two weeks ago, I'll come and see if she is interested in our project."

Cameron got out of the car and looked back at John.

"You know that this is not one of the better neighborhoods in this city. You are a well dressed anglo saxon male in an expensive car. Please try to avoid any needless confrontations while I am in there."

"I will be the soul of discretion," John promised.

John watched as Cameron knocked on the door. When it opened he recognized Chola in the doorway. Even from this distance he could see the surprise in her expression. Chola stepped back and motioned Cameron inside. The door closed behind her.

As the time ticked by John watched as people strolled past the car, glanced at it and him but moved on without comment. Tiring of sitting behind the wheel John got out and walked around to the passenger side. He leaned against the car, folded his arms, and continued to watch the house. In that position he heard the loud voices coming down the street.

The three men looked to be in their early twenties. A good deal of their disposable income had obviously gone to the tattoo and body piercing parlors. They swaggered three abreast in the classic street-tough manner. The sidewalk was theirs and anyone else could damn well get out of the way. John remembered his promise to Cameron. He was about to turn and get back in the car when he saw the fourth person in the group--a young boy no more than fourteen trailing the toughs like an obedient puppy. The boy was big for his age and wore a grin that seemed oddly familiar. It was Delgado, Caesar Delgado, his Delgado. John leaned back against the car.

"Hey white bread, nice car," one of the men commented.

"Yeah, but who said you could drive it in our neighborhood?"

"Maybe you give us a ride and we let it go this time."

The three men were having fun. They had formed an arc in front of John, taking turns with their comments, waiting to see him sweat. Delgado stood back watching how they hassled the anglo.

John had once had a fair command of Spanish insults but it had been a while. Let's see, he thought, hijo de puta was still probably a good starting point. From there a few references to sexual inadequacies, dietary habits and family deficiencies should do it. From the darkening expressions on their faces, John was certain that even if he had the words wrong, the tune was coming through. The one in the middle, the leader, roared a curse and leaped at him. John simply moved aside and kicked him on the side of the knee...hard. The man screamed in pain and fell forward hitting his head on the car. The second tough guy had just started to move when John drew his pistol and jammed it against his throat.

"John, I thought I asked you to avoid confrontations."

The third man wheeled at the sound of the female voice to see Cameron standing on the porch, the pistol in her hand aimed at him.

"They started it," John said, grinning.

"Chola is ready to talk to you when you are through playing."

"You two pick up your friend and get the hell out of here." John ignored the looks of furious loathing from all three.

"Caesar, wait a second. I'd like to talk to you."

The boy looked surprised. "How do you know who I am?"

"Let's just say I've got second sight. I know who you are. More importantly, I know who you can be."

"And who can I be?" Delgado asked in a clearly disbelieving tone.

"A better man than any one of those three pieces of crap you were trailing after."

"They aren't crap," Delgado protested. "They are respected men in my neighborhood."

"Nobody respects them Caesar. The weaker people they hurt are afraid of them but no one respects them. You just saw how stupid they are. They let me make them angry and they rushed me before they knew what I could do. If I had wanted it, all three would be dead now."

Delgado blinked as the truth of John's statement sank in.

"I have to go talk to the lady in the house. How about you watch my car?"

"Twenty bucks."

John grinned. "Thief. Ten bucks. Five now, five when I come out."

"Deal."

__________________________________________________________


John had always thought Chola was lovely--a sort of hispanic princess with her huge dark eyes and long gleaming black hair. But he had also sensed a crushing sadness about her. It was as if too much pain, too much disappointment, too much loss had been cast on her too early in her life. Experience is a great teacher but she kills her pupils. Today, however, Chola's sadness had been replaced by an expression of stunned disbelief.

"I've always known that there were very different things about both of you," Chola said. "Cameron has tried to explain some of it but I look at you I can't...."

John was sitting in a large chair. Cameron sat down on the arm and put her hand on his neck.

"Chola, the last time you saw me, you said that we lose everyone we love." John slipped his arm around Cameron's waist. "Sometimes we get them back."

Chola looked momentarily shaken. "Okay, for now let's say I believe you are both what you say you are. Cameron tells me you want people who are prepared to do violence."

"When it is required," John replied.

"The three men you met out front can be violent," Chola observed.

"I want people who are serious, Chola, not street scum."

"I may be able to find you such people but it will take money."

"I have money."

"And it will require loyalty from you."

"I will return loyalty with loyalty," John responded.

Chola made her decision. "I will need a week, perhaps two, but I will find you the type of people you want."

"Good." John rose and Cameron stood by his side. "Cameron will be your contact. She will be in touch to see how things are going." He turned to leave and then turned back to Chola. "The boy standing by my car, do you know him?"

"Chola glanced out the window. "I know his family. I don't really know him."

"This is your game now, Chola, and I won't tell you how to play it. But I like that kid. If you can use him, I'd like to get him away from the people he is running with."

Chola looked at John intently. "People follow you now don't they? They wouldn't have when I saw you last but they will now. I'll see what I can do about the boy."

Cameron looked at Chola and smiled. To John's surprise Chola smiled back.

"Hasta luego," Cameron said.

"Vaya con dios, hermana."

As John and Cameron came down the sidewalk, Caesar, who had been leaning on the car, stood up. John pulled a bill from his wallet and handed it to him.

"The woman who lives here is doing something for me. She might need some help. Remember what I told you. You can be the better man."

"I'll think about it."

"You do that," John said. "Keep it hanging Caesar."

"You too, Jefe."

__________________________________________________________


They were only a block from Chola's house when John's cell phone rang.

"John Henry, is Mom--?"

Cameron could hear the concern surging through John's voice. Then the tone changed. Now he was coldly calm, serious, and responding in one or two words to the information John Henry was providing.

"Thank you John Henry." John flipped his phone closed and reaching over with his right hand entered an address in the car's GPS system.

"What is it John?" Cameron could see the Captain John Connor battle visage slip into place.

"John Henry set up a computer monitoring program for me. I gave him the names of everyone I remembered from the future. All my company J troopers, everyone I cared about. The program was supposed to find them in this time and alert me if anything happened to them."

"And he has gotten an alert?" Cameron asked.

"Not at first, that's the problem."

The sun was going down and a soft evening twilight was settling over the city. Cameron felt the car accelerate as John jammed on the gas.

"About a week ago there was an accident on the freeway in West Hollywood. A car ran off the road and flipped over. The young couple in the car were killed instantly but their little girl just over a year old was in a car seat and she miraculously survived. The newspaper treated the story as just another car wreck in LA. But last night a local TV station reported that the police were now investigating the case as a vehicular homicide. A witness has come forward who claims to have seen another car force the young couple off the highway."

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

"The TV report said that the little girl was doing well and had been temporarily placed with experienced foster parents named Bryan and Ellen Mitchell. John Henry says the reason the monitoring program didn't pick up the first story was because the newspaper got the the child's name wrong. The paper reported the little girl's name as Alice. The television report corrected it. The child's name isn't Alice. It's Allison.

__________________________________________________________


Cameron glanced at the GPS screen. "John, that is the Mitchell house over there."

John pulled the car to the curb and cut the engine. The house sat on a corner. They were to the left and slightly behind it. The kitchen light was on and he could see the back door. The solid, if unpretentious, two story home fronted on the street ahead. The surrounding neighborhood looked placid and undisturbed in the early evening darkness. This was not a place accustomed to violence. That was about to change.

"We'll go in the back," John whispered as they crept forward. They had only gone a few steps when he saw the van come speeding up the street in front of the house. He could hear the tires screech as it stopped out of his line of sight. There was the sound of running feet and a tearing crash as if the front door had been smashed open.

John drew his pistol and glanced back to see that Cameron had done the same. They sprinted together toward the back door. John tried the knob and found it locked.

"Open it Cam," John whispered.

Cameron gave the door a quick shove and it popped open. Any noise was masked by the sound of a woman screaming in the front of the house. Two shots rang out and the screaming stopped.

"Son of a bitch," John snarled and moved rapidly through the house. With Cameron following they hurried through a dining room and into a deceptively normal living room. Photographs on the wall, magazines tossed casually about, and a sweater draped across the couch all spoke to a settled world that no longer existed here. The three men who had just destroyed that world stood in the vestibule at the foot of the stairs. Behind them the shattered front door dangled on its broken hinges.

The men were all dressed in identical brown khaki work clothes with baseball caps pulled down across their foreheads. The body of a woman lay face down at their feet, a pool of blood forming near her head. Two of the men were shouting at each other oblivious to the fact there was now someone else in the house.

"Man, why did you have to shoot her? She told us where the kid was."

The second man jerked his thumb toward the open door. "You heard the man. No live witnesses. Now go get the kid."

The first man turned and had taken one step toward the stairs when John shot him. One bullet struck the side of his head and he crashed to the floor. His two companions turned in thunderstruck surprise to face the new threat. Neither even managed to raise their weapons. Cameron had moved beside John, her pistol locked on its target. The crash of two automatic pistols firing in unison echoed through the the house and both of the remaining intruders went down.

John was about to move forward when he heard the footsteps on the porch. There was another one. Even as the thought registered, the fourth man came through the door. He was larger than his deceased companions, dark hair, no cap with a hard, coldly impassive look on his face.

John squeezed off a quick shot, perfectly aimed, that struck the man squarely on the forehead...and bounced off. In that split second, John could see a gleam of silver where his bullet had hit.

"Ohhh shit." John dove to his right, his impetus significantly enhanced by the shove Cameron applied. He tucked and rolled behind a chair as the terminator's gun fired at the space he had just occupied. Looking back, he was pleased to see Cameron dive behind the couch. Her new sensitivity to pain had at least discouraged her from willingly taking a bullet. John had no doubt, however, that if it came down to his safety she still wouldn't hesitate.

In battle you must analyze your options quickly. The Glock wouldn't stop a terminator, but if he could hit its eyes it might throw its visual function offline. A pain more remembered than felt in his right side reminded him that even a blinded terminator was still deadly. Still, if he could damage its sight, it would improve their odds.

For the moment the metal seemed to be focusing on Cameron. It was walking purposefully toward her hiding place. But that exposed its left side.

"Hey!" John yelled. The machine started to turn its head and John fired twice directly into its left eye. The terminator staggered back a step,shaking its head as it tried to compensate for the damage. It was turning its pistol back in John's direction when a missile with long brown hair burst across the room. Cameron grabbed the terminator by the right arm ripping the gun out of its hand and spinning it crashing into the wall. As it tried to extricate itself from the wood and plaster she smashed into it again, knocking it to the floor.

"John, get the child. I can deal with this." Cameron's tone was insistent.

The terminator was struggling to regain its feet when Cameron kicked it, driving it back across the living room. John's every emotion fought against leaving Cameron alone. Rationally, he knew, however, that this was her fight. All he would do was get in her way. Turning, he dashed up the steps.

On the second floor he could see the doors to three different rooms. Jerking open the first door he knew immediately that it was an adult's bedroom with nothing to indicate the presence of a child. The second room had all the appearance of a child's room; small beds, cartoon posters on the wall and stuffed toys lying about but no sign of a little girl. He was about to turn to the third room when he heard the muffled sob coming from the closet.

John knelt by the closet door and slowly opened it. He found himself staring into the piercing black eyes of a defiant little girl about four or five years old. She had an hispanic appearance with olive hued skin and dark black hair. She was holding a smaller child who had her face buried against the older girl's shoulder.

"Go away!" the little girl snapped. "Leave us alone!"

"Its alright sweetheart. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm John. What's your name?"

The child seemed surprised by the soft kindness in John's voice.

"I'm Marissa."

"And who is this?" John asked.

"Her name is Allison."

As if responding to the sound of her name, the younger child turned her head to look at John. He looked into her small brown eyes and saw...Cameron.

"There is bad men in the house," Marissa whispered. "Bad men took my mommy and now they are here too."

"They aren't going to hurt you or Allison, Marissa. I promise."

John heard the sound of steps in the hall. Please God let it be Cameron, he prayed. It was. She was carrying something in a plastic bag and except for a small cut above her left eye, she seemed unhurt by her battle.

"Did you find the child? Oh you found two."

"Marissa, this is my friend Cameron. We would like you and Allison to come with us now."

"Away from the bad men?"

"Away from the bad men," John confirmed.

In the distance, the wailing of sirens was piercing the darkness. The police were coming.

"We need to go John." Cameron was pleading.

"Will you come, Marissa?"

"Yes," she said and she relaxed her grip on Allison. John picked up the smaller child and handed her to Cameron. Then he scooped Marissa into his arms.

"Lets go. And Cameron," he dropped his voice to a whisper, "cover her eyes as we go down the stairs. I don't want them to see what's down there."

__________________________________________________________


The room was not quite dark. All the lights except the small lamp on the table near the window had been turned off. John sat at the table, his pistol lying in front of him, peering out the window at the motel parking lot. Cameron checked to see if both children were asleep, gently pulling a cover up over Marissa's shoulder before joining him at the table.

"So what do we do now John?"

"We wait until morning. I go out and buy a couple of children's car seats and then we go home."

"You are taking the little girls with us?"

"Let's just say for now your ballet class has increased."

"Are you sure this is the right course? I'm not doubting you," Cameron sounded uncertain, "it is just that--"

"We are taking them with us, Cameron. I wish I could say I was certain that this is the right thing to do, but I can't. I know only that someone or something has spent a lot of effort and shed a lot of blood trying to kill one little girl. I am not giving them another chance."

Even in the dim light Cameron could see the expression of unrelenting determination. The girls were going to San Francisco.

"Alright, but let me show you something else." Reaching to the floor Cameron picked up the bag she had carried from the Mitchell house. Thrusting her hand into the bag she pulled out a human head still dripping a small amount of blood.

John jerked back in his chair before he saw the wires and broken metal extending from the neck. It was the head of the terminator Cameron had battled back at the foster home.

"So you brought me the head of Alfredo Garcia?"

Cameron looked confused and John shook his head. "Never mind, bad joke. It is kind of a grisly souvenir though isn't it?"

"It isn't a souvenir, John. This seemed to be the best way of preserving its chip."

"Why not just take it out?" John asked.

"Before we all made the temporal jump three years ago, Catherine defeated the terminator that killed Derek."

John's face drained of all expression as he remembered his uncle's dead body sprawled on the floor of the Weaver house.

"Catherine removed its chip but it was coated with phosphorus. As soon as it was exposed to the air the substance burned and corrupted all the data on the chip. John Henry could learn nothing from it."

"And you think if it is still in the head, John Henry might find a way around the auto-destruct?"

"I hope so," Cameron said.

"I only love smart women," John whispered.

A smile danced quickly across Cameron's face before she again became serious.

"That is not all John. This terminator appeared to be at least an 800 model but it didn't fight like one."

"In what way?"

"I defeated it too easily. It lacked the tensile strength as well as the agility I would have expected from an 800 model."

"Do you think it was just defective?"

"No,I think it was built under conditions that lacked the sophistication of a Skynet construction facility. John, I don't think this terminator came from the future. I think it was built in this time period."

John's face turned ashen. "And if they have built one...."

Cameron completed the thought, "...they have built more. Perhaps many more."

"My love," John said, "I think we need to get home."







talli
talli
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