Title: Resistance (5a/?)
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Disclaimer: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is not mine...though since Fox appears to be dropping it, rightfully it should be up for grabs.
Summary: Slightly alternate time-line, Riley lives...Cameron's glitch continues to make itself known, and Sarah...well Sarah gets to learn what it's like to be in John's shoes...in more ways than one.
AN: Many thanks as always to inspectorboxer for her unerring ability to point out ways to make these chapters so much better.
AN#2: This is a long one, so it's posted in two parts...I got a little wordy *G*
Chapter one / Chapter two / Chapter three / Chapter four
Haven House stood proudly on the corner of two major downtown streets. The aged nobility of its yellow brick façade was blemished but unbowed by layers of graffiti, some faded to no more than a faint smudge, and a few bright tags scarcely older than the newspaper on the stoop.
The front door, a freshly painted burgundy, was just visible from where the Jeep was parked, across the street and down a filthy alley between two derelict three story tenements. The one on the left had a dry cleaner’s on the ground floor and the other an appliance repair store. Laundry hung on wire cords between the walls and Cameron’s long range sensors picked up many sounds from the buildings that she labeled as domestic; Human conversation, a dog barking, a radio giving the traffic report and the steady thrum of a washing machine.
The terminator should have been watching the halfway house where John, Riley, and Casey’s two month old son Jeremy were in the middle of their recon mission, but mostly she was watching Sarah.
“Stop that,” Sarah ordered wearily, not taking her eyes off of their target. Her appearance matched her voice, stiff and worn, as if she hadn’t quite woken up this morning. Dark hair, a little more ragged than usual, hung in layers around face, almost obscuring her features, but Cameron knew from experience that the edges of her mouth would be pinched with worry.
“You didn’t sleep,” Cameron observed bluntly, ignoring Sarah’s command and continuing her appraisal. There had not been time to ensure that the other woman ate a proper breakfast this morning either, but Cameron had insisted that Sarah take a banana and a yogurt bar with them when the left the house. Initially resistant, Sarah had eventually complied when the terminator flatly refused to leave the house until she agreed. The snack still lay uneaten on the seat between them, a playing piece in their ongoing battle of wills.
Scrubbing a hand across her face, Sarah yawned and shrugged. “I slept…I just… don’t feel like I did.”
“You took the sedative?” Cameron asked doubtfully. She wasn’t quite sure if the woman was lying to her or not. Sarah had a habit of telling people what she wanted them to know, and nothing more.
“Yes, not that it’s any of your business,” Sarah grumbled irritably, still not even glancing at Cameron. She had avoiding looking at the terminator all morning and, Cameron suspected, taken special care not to come close enough to risk even the most casual or accidental physical contact.
Undeterred, Cameron refused to drop the subject. “I don’t understand. If you slept, then you should feel rested.”
Crossing her arms and slumping a little in her seat, Sarah continued to gaze out the windshield. “Yeah well, that’s the problem with that crap…it doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to.”
Cameron quickly reviewed the list of side effects mentioned in the pamphlet that the pharmacy had included with Sarah’s medication. She stopped when she came to one that seemed the most accurate. “You are experiencing fatigue and drowsiness?”
“Give the girl a prize,” Sarah muttered a little nastily. There was a long pause, and then she sighed and finally turned her head to look at Cameron, the ghost of a rueful smile on her lips. “I’m sorry,” She apologized awkwardly, “I’m just a little…”
“Pissy?” Cameron finished for her, helpfully. “That’s the word John uses,” she explained when Sarah raised her brows at the terminator’s choice of adjective.
Sarah snorted and looked away again. “I’ll bet.”
“Your blood sugar may be low, you should eat something.” Cameron picked up the yogurt bar and held it out. “This contains calcium and 9 essential nutrients, as well as vitamins A and B.”
Sarah ignored the offer. “Stop it!” She repeated, pulling back against the door on her side of the Jeep.
“Stop what?” Confused, Cameron set the foil wrapped bar down gently on the dashboard in front of the other woman before withdrawing her hand to her lap.
“Stop whatever it is you’ve been doing for the past three days!” Sarah snapped, tension in every line of her frame. Her expression, when she did look at Cameron, was a mixture of frustration and confusion. “I don’t need a nursemaid…or a babysitter, or a goddamned cybernetic shadow,” she continued. “Can’t you be happy without driving someone crazy?”
Unable to consider the question properly in the face of Sarah’s obvious distress, and the acute discomfort it was arousing in her own system; Cameron automatically corrected the other woman, a hint of reproach in her voice. “I’m a robot, I can’t be happy.”
Sarah snorted at that, running a hand through her unruly hair, and some of the tension in the Jeep eased. “What, you can feel fear, but not happiness? Make up your mind girlie, either you can feel or you can’t.”
Cameron pushed her brows together, acknowledging the inconsistency and dissecting it carefully. “Fear is much easier to understand than happiness,” she reasoned. “Humans cannot seem to agree on what it means to be happy. Therefore it is difficult to identify that emotion in myself.” Cameron paused, unsure whether or not to ask the next logical question, but Sarah waited quietly until she continued. “How do you know when you are happy?”
Sarah shrugged and picked up the yogurt bar from the dashboard, tossing it absently between her hands as if that would satisfy the terminator. “Usually I’m happy enough when no one is shooting at me or John,” she answered lightly, watching the snack bar flip through the air.
Cameron stiffened and turned away, she didn’t like it when Sarah brushed her questions off instead of taking them seriously. It was unproductive. “You are being flippant, that is not very helpful.”
“No… it isn’t,” Sarah admitted. She sighed, catching the yogurt bar in one hand and ripped opened the package. She looked at it for a moment before taking a bite, and Cameron wondered briefly if this was the woman’s way of offering a wordless apology.
After chewing and swallowing, Sarah tried again; “Look, you know you’re happy when you feel good…when things are going the way they should be. Usually people think that they’ll be happy when they have everything they want.”
“Oh.” Cameron examined that explanation, noting that Sarah had avoided answering the original question, choosing instead to use the generic interpretation of the word ‘you’. That made her curious. “Are they?”
“Are they what?”
“Happy when they get what they want?” Cameron elaborated.
Sarah shrugged, “Sometimes…not usually.”
“Because people are complicated.” Leaning into the corner where the back of her seat met the door, Sarah curled a leg underneath her and turned towards Cameron. “Sometimes they only want something until they have it. Other times… they don’t see that they already have everything they could ever want… until they lose it.” She finished with a trace of bitterness, looking out through the windshield and across the road, to the halfway house where John was.
Cameron tilted her head, remembering what Sarah had said to Ellison when they had buried Cromarite in the Mexican desert. He had spoken of losing his marriage and his career, that’s’ a lot to you? she had asked him. Sarah had lost much more than that, almost everything.
“What would make you happy, Sarah…what do you want?” Cameron had read that there was power in a person’s name, and she used the other woman’s now to try and draw her away from her pain and worry.
Sarah glanced back sharply; narrowed green eyes alight with suspicion. “We’re talking about you here girlie, not me.” Her voice was hard, defensive.
“But I am trying to understand,” Cameron returned earnestly.
A raised eyebrow indicated Sarah’s skepticism. “Are you trying to understand happiness or me?”
Acknowledging Sarah’s perceptiveness, Cameron hesitated. She knew what the right thing to say was, but Sarah didn’t like it when she lied, a point that had been made very strongly in the past. “Both,” she admitted after some consideration, choosing the truth even though she suspected it would make the other woman uneasy.
Sarah absorbed that, regarding the terminator silently for a minute, her expression unreadable. “Let’s just stick with happiness for now,” she said finally, the topic of her own desires closed.
Cameron accepted the redirection. While pushing Sarah could be fascinating, there were definite consequences when she went too far. Sometimes those consequences needed stitches. “Okay,” she answered, meeting Sarah’s stare with her own until the other woman looked away with a shrug.
“So…” Clearly still uncomfortable, Sarah cast around for the thread of their previous conversation. “What does Cameron want?”
“Protect John, Stop Skynet,” Cameron’s answer was immediate and succinct.
Sarah shook her head. “No, that’s what you’re programmed to do.”
“There is a difference?”
“A pretty big one actually,” Sarah drummed her fingers on the wheel, her expression thoughtful as she considered how to explain the distinction. “Your programs are something that was done to you, for someone else. Want should about what you’d like to have for yourself.” She glanced at the terminator curiously, her fingers stilling. “Is that even something you can do?”
The distinction, and Sarah’s subsequent question, gave Cameron pause. She searched her memory for any occasion on which a human had asked her what she wanted, or even if she could want, when the objective had nothing to do with her programming, and found nothing. According to humans, machines didn’t have desires. Needs yes, they had the need to maintain the integrity of their physical bodies, to learn and update their software and to fulfill their missions, but there was no room in either Skynet’s or the resistance’s programming for want.
“I don’t know,” Cameron answered honestly. “What does it feel like, to want something?”
Sarah sighed again and put the last piece of her yogurt bar in her mouth, rolling it around while she thought. “Uncomfortable,” she answered finally. “It can pull and push at you until it makes you crazy…”
Sarah’s explanation sounded very familiar… Cameron reflected on the impulse that had seized her in the hospital and she looked down at the hand in her lap, clenching and loosening her fingers against her thighs, remembering what it had felt like to have them twined with Sarah’s.
The other woman had told her to blend in, but that had not been her primary mission. She had taken Sarah’s hand in order to distract her, and also to quiet the discomfort that was pushing and pulling on her, a discomfort that seemed to arise only in the face of Sarah’s unhappiness, or pain.
Sarah had been successfully diverted, which had been satisfying, but although their linked hands had made it impossible for her to ignore Cameron, the brief touch had only served to increase the terminators confusion.
“Uncomfortable, as if something is too cold or too hot?” Cameron ventured, using the comparison that had seemed closest to describing the feeling that had gripped her at the time.
“Exactly,” Sarah confirmed, rolling up the empty foil wrapper and tucking it inside of her coffee cup from this morning.
Cameron watched her, processing their conversation and measuring it against the morning at the hospital, her actions over the past three days…and to a lesser extent, the almost two years that she had known Sarah.
“I think that I want you to be happy,” she speculated tentatively, almost unaware that she was speaking aloud. The ringing silence that came in the wake of the terminator’s words was lost on her while she considered the possible implications of her theory.
“Was that bad to say?” she asked finally, Sarah’s shock eventually managing to penetrate her self-examination.
“You want me to be happy?” Sarah’s voice was choked and strained, the words working their way out from between clenched teeth.
Because Sarah had asked, Cameron studied the idea more carefully, making a slight adjustment the second time around. “I want to make you happy,” she confirmed, a little surprised at the deeper insight, but accepting its accuracy.
“No, you don’t.” Clearly unable to accept that conclusion, Sarah rejected it completely, falling back on her characteristic glare, as if daring Cameron to argue with her.
The terminator was not indifferent to Sarah’s negative reaction, but she was almost completely preoccupied with examining this new, unexpected and possibly detrimental, objective in her system, and she didn’t heed the warning signs. “When someone makes you happy, you want to spend time with them, talk to them. You value their opinions?”
“Yes…” Sarah ground out reluctantly.
Cameron shrugged, “Then yes…I want to make you happy.” She followed that supposition through, admitting with quiet puzzlement; “I want you to like me...”
“But… why?” Sarah demanded, her angry denial giving way to frustration and a touch of panic.
Cameron raised her hands, palms up, in what she understood to be a human sign of apology and bewilderment. “I don’t know,” she repeated. “It seems illogical. It has nothing to do with my mission.”
Having classified her discomfort, and identified its objectives, the terminator was still unable to isolate the source or cause, which was worrying. She could only conclude that this deviation outside of her mission directives was related somehow to the damage she had sustained to her chip. But it didn’t feel like a malfunction. It felt…right. This could mean that there was some corruption of her diagnostic software; she could be far more compromised than she had realized.
“Illogical?” Sarah’s growl interrupted Cameron’s analysis. “It’s insane!”
The terminator tilted her head and considered the accusation, noting with interest that Sarah’s evaluation ran very close to her own. “That’s possible…If I am damaged then my judgment may also be impaired.”
Still… Cameron replayed again the sensation of holding Sarah’s hand, realizing with some surprise that she had liked it… she had wanted to do it. It might be a malfunction, but she did not think it was the worst error her system could have had.
At a complete loss for words, Sarah just stared at the terminator. Finally, unable to deal with the unlooked for string of revelations in any way other then to push them aside, she gathered herself and pulled her gaze away, refocusing on the world outside of the Jeep to gain a little of the distance that she was craving. “I have to think about this,” she whispered harshly.
Cameron nodded. “I understand. You are freaked out.” She didn’t seem to notice that her own voice had dipped and fallen out of its usual flat line into something resembling hurt. “You think I’m a freak.”
Almost painfully aware of Cameron at this moment, Sarah couldn’t possibly miss that inflection, no matter how much she would have liked to. It twisted the knot of guilt that had been growing steadily, almost unacknowledged, in her chest ever since the metal girl had shown up on their proverbial doorstep and become her emotional, and occasionally physical, punching bag.
“I don’t think you’re a freak,” she offered, wondering even as she said it whether she was lying or not.
“But you don’t like me,” Cameron concluded a little wistfully.
“You’re a machine!” Misplaced sympathy or not, Sarah was beginning to feel more than a little defensive about this conversation. Guilt over treating the girl callously she could handle, but she refused to feel badly for not liking the terminator, and she resented the implication that she should.
“You like this car…it’s a machine,” Cameron rejoined, looking around the interior of the vehicle as if searching for some desirable quality that she lacked.
“Christ, Cameron! Can you just drop it?”
“You want me to drop it?” Apparently unfazed by Sarah’s panic, the girl regarded her evenly. “This conversation is making you uncomfortable?”
“Yes,” Sarah growled, unable to dismiss the impression that she was losing in whatever strange game they were playing, and getting more than a little irritated about it. Aggravation trumped nerves every time.
“It would make you happy?” Cameron continued relentlessly.
“Okay,” The terminator surrendered abruptly, sitting back in her seat and fixing her eyes straight ahead out the windshield.
Unable to believe it was over that easily, Sarah couldn’t resist asking; “Okay? Just like that?”
“Yes,” Cameron affirmed, completely serene once more. “I want you to be happy.”
Fairly certain that she’d just been outmaneuvered; Sarah huffed and pushed back into her seat. A sidelong glance at Cameron confirmed that the girl was wearing that specific almost nonexistent smile that she was coming to associate with the terminator after one of their convoluted conversations.
“Happy now?” she asked the metal girl sullenly.
Cameron pursed her lips, affecting a thoughtful pose. “No,” she finally admitted, looking across the space between them with a trace of rebuke in her otherwise empty voice. “You haven’t eaten your banana yet.”
The atmosphere inside of Haven House had the same mix of dignity and depravity as the outside. The front room was almost austere in its appointments, presided over by the oversized reception desk that stood like a silent sentinel between the door and the shelter’s inner sanctum. The pristine white walls were lined with neatly ordered shelves that held books and pamphlets on everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to Contraception, and even the plants in the corners looked as if every leaf had been deliberately arranged.
In stark contrast, the women that passed through the room, some of them pausing to have a word with the secretary behind the militant desk on their way in or out, were the picture of personal disregard from their gap soled shoes to their ill-fitting clothing and untended hair. At least the ones on their way out were clean.
Despite his deliberately shabby attire, John still felt very out of place as he paced the room, well aware of the suspicious looks he was earning just for being male.
Conversely, Riley had gone almost completely unnoticed in ripped jeans, a faded, oversized t-shirt and un-brushed hair hanging loosely around her bare face. Unlike John, she and the baby had been allowed past the front desk, escorted back into the shelter’s heart by one of the many volunteers for a chance to clean up and speak with one of the councilors.
As his mother had guessed, John had been asked to remain behind, and he was being watched very carefully by the sharp eyed, but heavy-set receptionist Jeanette. Pretending to study the shelves of informational material, John waited until the woman’s attention was distracted by a resident and slipped one of the bugs Derek had sent with them behind a stack of thick pamphlets from a nearby methadone clinic. If they didn’t manage to find Lauren today, they would at least still have ears in the shelter.
“You look like her.”
John whirled, knocking the pamphlets to the floor and sending the bug flying. A disapproving ‘hrumph’ from the desk sent his gaze skittering that way, and he offered an apologetic smile before focusing on the girl who had startled him.
“Your mother,” Lauren Fields continued, as casually as if they were two strangers discussing the price of bread, and hitched her sister a little higher onto her hip. “You look like her.”
“I…” John tried to cover his momentary lapse in brainpower by kneeling to collect the fallen pamphlets. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he finished rather lamely, keeping his voice low enough so that the receptionist wouldn’t overhear them.
“Oh come on,” Lauren snorted, making no move to help him. “Sarah Fields? She left me a message, why not just show up in person? Does she honestly think I’m that stupid?”
John got back to his feet slowly, his arms full of paper. “We thought you might run,” he admitted, discarding the apparently useless pretense of innocence.
“I should have.” Lauren fixed him with a dark eyed stare that he could have sworn she’d gotten from his mother. “I know what you do, and I don’t want my sister to be a part of that…I want her to make birdhouses, not learn how to shoot a gun before she can walk.”
“So why didn’t you?” John didn’t follow the reference to birdhouses, but he got the gist of her position, and he couldn’t blame her. If he’d had the choice, this life wouldn’t have been it.
Lauren hesitated, glancing towards the door before answering. “I think there might be another one of those things after us.”
“You saw the article in the newspaper too?” John asked, running his fingers through his hair and sighing when she nodded. All this plotting and Lauren was still a step ahead of them, so much for a rescue operation. “You’ll come then?”
“I’ll come,” Lauren answered grudgingly. “But to talk, not to stay.”
“That’ll do,” John agreed, feeling relieved and just a little sheepish about the whole thing. “Mom’s not far off, I’ll let her know to come pick us up.” He paused, looking down the hall behind Lauren. “Wait, how did you know I was here…is Riley..?”
Lauren rolled her eyes. “You two are seriously terrible at this, did you know that? I figured it out as soon as that girl said the baby’s fathers name was John. She’s probably still waiting for me to get back from the bathroom. So whose kid is that anyway? I’m pretty sure Sarah would have mentioned she had a grandchild on the way.”
“A friend’s,” John muttered sulkily, a little stung by Lauren’s frank disregard for his recon skills. “Look, can you get her so that we can go?”
“Touchy much?” Lauren smirked and handed
John juggled the pamphlets and the baby, choosing to drop the former rather then the latter, which got him another snort from Jeanette. The receptionist didn’t have the chance to follow up on her disapproval though, as the chime above the door rang and she was forced to let it slide.
Distracted by a happily squirming
Shit, shit, shit! Shifting the toddler in his arms to one side so that he could slide the other hand down to his jeans pocket, he retrieved his cell phone. He was cursing even harder when he remembered that Riley didn’t have hers…it wasn’t authentic, she’d insisted. So he had no way to let her and Lauren know what was waiting for them.
Flipping the phone open, he dialed his mother’s number instead. It rang once and then his mother’s voice came on the line, stilling some of the panic in his guts.
“John?” Her three tone code was followed swiftly by his. “What happened?”
“Nothing yet,” John murmured, hoping that the terminator was sufficiently occupied with Jeanette to prevent him from overhearing. “We’ve found them, but there’s an old buddy of Cameron’s here and he’s in blue.”
There was a pause while his mother processed that. Her voice, when she came back, was calm, but John could hear the fear underneath. “Can you get out?”
“I don’t think so.”
There was a muffled conversation. “Okay, John.” The trace of fear was banished, replaced by a more familiar tone of command. “I want you to stay put and keep your head down, Cameron’s on her way.”
“Be glad to see her,” John answered feelingly and hung up, tucking the phone back into his pocket. Keeping his back to the desk and the terminator, John sidled towards the hallway where Riley and Lauren would be coming from.
“Excuse me young man. I’ve already asked you to wait here.” The receptionist’s voice jerked him to a halt and John could only look longingly down the corridor.
“Now I’m sorry, officer, but without a warrant I simply can’t release that information,” she continued, shifting her attention from John and back to the fake cop.
“Yes, I see. Young man?” The terminator echoed Jeanette’s address, leaving the desk to face John. “Do you know Lauren Fields? I believe she is staying here.”
Knowing that it was unwise to arouse suspicion any further by refusing to answer, John turned around slowly, holding
“Is that your child?” The fake police officer advanced stiffly, coming to a stop within a few feet of him.
John snuck a quick glance at the receptionist and she nodded tightly, the first non hostile recognition he’d gotten from her since he walked in the door. “Yes,” he lied. “Her mom and I are here to see a friend.”
“John, there you are!” As if on cue, Cameron breezed through the front door, her face lit up in a disturbingly convincing grin. She brushed past the terminator as if he were exactly what he was pretending to be, and linked arms with John. “Who’s your new friend?” looking up through her lashes, Cameron actually giggled. “He’s cute.”
John glanced between the terminators, watching them size each other up. Cameron’s ruse was only for the receptionists benefit, and all three of them knew it. But without his target in sight, the other machine had his own persona to maintain, so it was a stand off.
“Is this your child, miss?” Obviously the other terminator had decided to proceed with his mission as planned, overtly anyway.
“No!” Cameron rolled her eyes. “I’m like, sixteen…and you know, single.” Letting go of John she sidled up to her male counterpart, forcing him to back up and away from the hallway. “So… are you married?”
Clearly unprepared for this development, the terminator gave way before Cameron’s advance, and John took advantage of the distraction to start inching away. Cradling
They appeared at the same instant that the male terminator decided he was finished playing Cameron’s game, and tried to push past her. Tilting her head at the sound of feet in the corridor, Cameron caught the fake cop’s arm and slammed him back into the wall. “Run!” she barked, all traces of the flirtatious teenager erased in a split second.
John didn’t need to be told twice. Waiting just long enough for Riley and Lauren to reach the foyer and realize what was going on, he passed
Riley obeyed him immediately, clutching Casey’s son to her chest and sprinting for the door. Lauren accepted
“This is what she does!” John reassured her hastily. “Now move!”
“Now Lauren!” John shoved the girl through the doorway and out onto the sidewalk. His mother had the Jeep idling right out front and he didn’t stop, propelling Lauren and Sydney away from the shelter and into the backseat after Riley and Jeremy.
Once the girls and the babies were in, John shut the door and pulled himself up into the passenger seat. His mother glanced back at the building behind them once and John thought he saw something like indecision pass over her face before she hit the gas and squealed away from the curb.
“We’re just going to leave her?” Lauren asked disbelievingly from the back, hastily trying to buckle herself in and juggle a suddenly squalling toddler.
“You are,” Sarah answered. After checking the rearview mirror for pursuit that wasn’t there, she pulled the Jeep over and undid her seatbelt. “John…” She waited until she had his full attention. “Get them home, and don’t move from there until I get back, do you understand me?”
John nodded, knowing there was nothing her could do to dissuade her.
“Good.” Sarah pushed the door open and jumped out. “Derek and Jessie are on their way, Cameron and I will come back with them.” She slammed the door. “Now go!”
John obeyed her, sliding over into the driver’s seat and buckling in. They couldn’t risk the girls and the kids, but leaving Cameron and an unknown terminator to take each other apart in a public place wasn’t an option either. Even if Cameron won, there would still be the other endoskeleton to keep away from the police. A glance in his mirrors as he pulled away showed his mother already running back to the halfway house, and John swallowed hard, willing himself not to worry. She would be okay…she always was.
Sarah arrived on the scene just in time to see Cameron thrown through the front door. The terminator hit the sidewalk hard, fracturing the cement, but she regained her feet in time to meet the other machine as it forced its way out through the wreckage of the door.
Reaching around the splintered wood, Cameron caught the uniformed terminator by the collar and hauled him forward. A deceptively simple flick of her wrist sent him flying into the street directly at Sarah.
Jumping back in a desperate effort to avoid the badly aimed, two-hundred plus pounds of metal, Sarah was clipped by a flailing arm and went down. Beside her, the terminator got stiffly to his feet, hesitating briefly as he stood overtop of her to assess her threat level. Sarah lay perfectly still. On her back, with her Glock trapped underneath her, she was helpless, but if he turned away she would have a chance to take him from behind.
Dismissing Sarah as a threat, the terminator stepped over her and advanced on Cameron again. The metal girl was ready for him, and she grabbed his wrist as he reached for her, twisting around to pull it behind him before shoving him into the pavement again.
Sarah took a moment to note that both machines seemed to have lost their guns, though a few tell-tale gleams of metal showed where bullets had already left their mark on them. She was just pulling her own weapon out when the sudden scream of approaching sirens yanked all three of their heads up.
“Cameron!” Sarah warned, shoving her gun back into her waistband.
“I know.” The metal girl pulled away from her opponent long enough to knock his legs out from beneath him with a well-placed kick. She turned to follow Sarah off the street but the other terminator rolled, reaching out and grabbing her by the ankle. Cameron twisted, but he yanked hard enough to bring her down, using the momentum to get back on his feet.
The sirens were getting louder. They needed to get out of there and fast! Sarah looked around, panic rising. Where the hell was Derek?
As if her thoughts had conjured him, the ex-soldier’s truck came spinning around the corner, and didn’t slow down, slamming into both terminators as they grappled. Cameron and the other machine were lifted off their feet and launched far ahead of the truck as it screeched to a halt beside Sarah. She looked up to see Derek throw the door open, and beyond him, Jessie behind the wheel.
“Get in!” he shouted.
With the police almost within sight, Sarah didn’t have much of a choice and she scrambled grudgingly into the back seat of the cab. “We have to go back for Cameron!” She ordered when Derek slammed the door and they started moving.
“Risk our lives for metal?” Jessie snorted as she sent the truck roaring off on a side street. “Not bloody likely.”
Furious, Sarah pushed forward between the front seats. “Turn around now!” She made a grab for the steering wheel but Jessie swerved and she was thrown into the back again.
“Jesus, Sarah!” Derek swore. “Are you trying to get us killed?”
Already aching from her collision with an airborne terminator and subsequent fall, Sarah gasped when she was slammed up against the back seat. Between the pain and the swerving of the truck, it took her a minute to orient herself, but she managed to get into a seated position, and yank her gun free. Leaning forward again, she pressed it squarely against Jessie’s temple, the image of a metal girl sitting in her front seat and claiming that she wanted to make her happy running inexplicably through her head.
“I said, turn around!” she snarled, clicking the safety off.
Cameron had seen the truck coming just in time to spin her opponent so that he took the brunt of the collision. But that didn’t save her from the impact with the pavement, or the weight of the other terminator crashing down on top of her.
Acknowledging the feedback from her external sensory system, she shut down her processor’s reaction to what it interpreted as pain, and crawled out from underneath the other machine. Disabling her physical sensors was a calculated decision. Without sensation, the terminator suffered in combat, but pain, while useful, could also be distracting.
The other terminator lay still once she was free, and Cameron automatically began counting down the seconds until he would reboot. She didn’t have the tools to remove his chip, and a quick scan of ambient noise compared to the approaching sirens revealed their imminent arrival. She had to go, but the truck was gone…and, a glance informed her, so was Sarah.
Cameron registered only relief. It didn’t occur to her to expect assistance. Terminators operated alone whenever possible. Her retreat was simplified by the elimination of the need to protect anyone else. This was one of the reasons why she and Sarah made such a good team; the woman understood that the safe removal of the other terminator’s targets was of primary importance. John forgot that constantly.
She was startled therefore when the truck returned just as the machine at her feet was stirring. Cameron evaded his uncoordinated grab, reaching out to catch the edge of the truck bed as it sped past. She pulled herself over the side and into the back as the police cars finally screamed into view.