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Old September 29 2009, 08:59 AM   #91
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Sarah Connor checked the barrel of the Colt M1911A1 and let the gun slide back into position. It looked, remarkably, like the one that she’d carried when Cromartie captured her outside of John’s school years ago when everything with Skynet started again. You couldn’t go wrong with a classic and this was the only thing she needed to stay alive. “You heard me, James.”

“This is nuts,” said the African American man. “You’re gonna go out there on your own and survive when Skynet probably has you as target number one on its hit lists. You know I have word for that: suicidal.”

“It’s not the first time someone’s said that about me,” she slid the pistol into the holster attached to her belt. “Actually I’ve heard that diagnosis so many times I take it as a compliment these days. Plus I don’t have to worry about Skynet. Don’t you remember what I told you about what Kyle told me when we met?”

Ellison crossed his arms, “I remember well enough; and remember I’ve watched those videos of his interrogations in the police station so I probably know it even better than you do. Most of the records were lost in the war. Skynet has no idea who you are, it just knows your name and the city where you were born. Any machine it sends after you will be systematic until it locates the correct Sarah Connor or kills everyone on Earth with the name. Since John doesn’t exist anymore you probably don’t have anything to worry about, but you can’t take that chance. Plus you need to think about this for a moment: what if this is an alternate reality from the one that Kyle came from? Skynet’s active here a lot later than it used to be – didn’t you say in one of the tapes that JD was supposed to be in 1997? Internet technology has come a long way and those reports about you and, dare I say it, Skynet were put on the internet by the news companies. How do you know Skynet wasn’t vain enough to Google its own name and now knows everything there is about you? Including what you look like.”

“Just a chance I’ll have to take,” Sarah countered his argument. “I’m not worried about it though. The war’s already begun, there’s no going back this time. We have to build the army so John has someone to lead when he gets back. Until then they need someone to rally around and that’s you and Savannah.”

“How can you be sure John’ll be back?” James asked pointedly. “How can we trust anything that machine said to us. What stopped her from killing John the minute he beamed in? Hell how do we know that the temporal transporter even worked? When you used it in the bank it leveled the place and I don’t remember Zeira’s Corporate Headquarters falling on our ears after they disappeared. Your son is dead Sarah. You hae to face it.”

Before Ellison could react Sarah’s hand slapped him across the face with force he never imagined a slap could have, “Never say that again you Bastard. My son’s alive – he’s out there and he’ll be back to lead this war. It’s destiny, James, don’t you see that? John leads humanity against the machines and they win the war under his leadership. My son will be here soon enough and you will give him his army.”

“What about Savannah?” James had to think of his adopted daughter. “She needs you, she needs your training now more than ever.”

“Savannah will be fine,” was all that the woman said. “She’s ready, there’s not really anything more that I can teach her than what she already knows. Plus she has you to help her. You’ll train her now. But I want you to promise me that there will be a Resistance for John and Savannah to lead.”

Ellison was surprised by her request, “Of course I’ll do my part. But what about you? You said I’ll give John the Resistance he wanted.”

Sarah stood there for a moment without moving as the words ran through her head, “I’ll do my part for as long as I can hold a gun. It was just a slip of the tongue that I didn’t say I’d be there.”

“Sarah it doesn’t take a genius to see what’s going on,” he put his hands around her waist. “Something’s wrong.”

The mother of the savior of humanity stood there and felt his hands against her hips. She let his fingers stay there for a few moments before she broke free of his strength. He deserved the truth for putting up with her for so long, “I’m dying.”

“What?” The tall man’s jaw dropped. “What the hell do you mean?”

“I mean I’m dying. I can’t be much clearer.” It was hard to watch. Sarah Connor, one of the strongest women in history, was nearly in tears. “Before the bombs fell I went to a doctor just over the border using one of the ids. Chola was good at her job and they worked so well that I got to use the Universal Health Care system to pay for my tests. My results came back positive for end state leukemia.”

For the first time in many years James Ellison was speechless. He struggled to find the words to say what he was thinking, to speak his mind about how he felt, but the words just didn’t come to him. He pushed them aside and asked the key question. “How long do you have?”

“Days,” she wiped a tear away, “maybe a couple of weeks.” Sarah recovered herself, “Which is why you’re going to carry out my last wishes. I’ll die soon but I can die at peace if I know that humanity will be safe. Have the army ready for John when he gets here and,” she choked up, “tell him I’ll see him soon.”


Before Ellison could react Sarah had passed through the bunker and she’d started through the escape hatch and returned to the outside world. She’d left Savannah and him behind, but he’d carry out her final wishes. He was sure of it.
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Old September 29 2009, 08:59 AM   #92
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

He failed.

“Is there a problem Mister Ellison?” The man from the videotapes asked him.

James Ellison pushed all of his weight against the makeshift cane that he’d constructed from the remains of the leg assembly of the endoskeleton that they’d destroyed over a year ago. The question from Kyle Reese had pulled him from his memories of days when he still thought the war was winnable to the cold reality of today.

“Why would there be a problem?” He asked the man who would become John’s father.

“You didn’t say anything for a long while and looked like you were pretty out of it,” Kyle answered frankly.

Ellison looked at the young man still seated at the table, “Just remembering someone from my youth.” He breathed heavily for a second from the strain and then focused back on Kyle Reese, “Could you excuse us please Kyle?”

“I think that I should be here,” Kyle challenged his request. “There’s a lot to do before we get started and we need to come up with a strategy to go after these survivors. We need their support in the battle of Topanga.”

“Please, Mister Reese, this is important,” was the answer that James gave. “I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important. Please.”

Kyle looked between the two for a moment and relented, “Alright. John I’ll be in the staging grounds planning the assault if you need me for anything before you and your team leave.”

“Thanks,” Connor answered, “but I’ll be fine. Good luck with your mission, Kyle.”

“You need the luck a lot more than I do,” answered the younger Reese. “I’m just playing armchair quarterback here; you’re the one doing the hard work. So good luck.”

“Thanks,” John felt like he was repeating himself. He watched as his father left the room and, once the doors were closed, he focused his attention on the girl and the man. Mister Ellison looked like he was pretty happy to see that John was back after all these years, but the girl was a different story. The girl looked like she could kill him where he stood without a second thought. Was Ellison sure she wasn’t a skinjob?

Connor grinned, “I bet you never thought you’d see me again did you.”

“I always had a sinking suspicion that I would,” Ellison kept leaning on the assembly. “In a world where intelligent machines have taken over I don’t think anything’s impossible anymore. Plus a little bird kept telling me that you’d be back one day.” He hobbled toward him with the cane, “John Connor, the prophesized leader of the human resistance against Skynet. The leader of a scrappy young band of rebels and a Luke Skywalker type as I once described you in reports.” He smiled brightly (showing the wear on his older face as every line became a crevice), “You look great; just like when I last saw you in that subbasement.” He laughed cheerfully, “As for me well nature took its course with me and kicked my ass a few times over. Even I’m amazed that I’m still alive from time to time so I’m sure you’re shocked.”

“I am actually. I hadn’t expected to find you ever again after what happened at Zeira Corporation and with everything that’s gone wrong over the years. To be honest I didn’t expect for anyone else other than Kyle’s group to be alive quite anymore.” He slid some hair away from his brow, “We thought we were the only ones left.”

“There aren’t many of us,” Ellison relayed sadly. “I’m sorry John.”

John looked at him puzzled, “What do you have to be sorry for? You did your best.”

“I failed,” was how he answered. “I vowed to your mother when I last saw her that I’d have an army ready for you when you got back, but I never truly believed that it was true and I couldn’t build an army for you because of everything that happened in 2018. The military survived under a General Ashdown’s supervision. He launched an offensive against Skynet that failed miserably and gave away almost 70% of the last human outposts. His war decimated our troops and he nearly got us all killed. We tried to build your forces,” he looked at Savannah, “we both did, but we failed horribly. I failed you and I failed your mother’s last wishes.”

“You didn’t fail me,” the destined leader answered him. “You did what you could against extreme circumstances that were impossible for anyone to deal with. You held out longer than most others could ever hope to against superior numbers and the odds being far from in your favor. Most importantly you survived this war. Survival is more important than anything and that includes building an army. We survived and that’s the best any of us could ever hope for.” He paused as if replaying Ellison’s words inside his head, “You said that you failed my mother? Mister Ellison why didn’t she lead the fight and why didn’t she build the army for me? Why’d she pass the buck off to you in one of the most important missions of her life?” That wasn’t the Sarah Connor that John had grown up under. That sounded nothing like the woman that he respected and hoped to develop even half the skills and courage of.

The older man considered his words carefully before he finally spoke, “Sarah asked me to take over the reigns for her after the bombs fell on top of us. She wanted me and Savannah to go on and to fight the war while she did her own part on her own terms like always. I’m sorry to tell you John that the last time I saw your mom was the evening of Judgment Day.” Ellison wondered how far to go with it and decided it was time for the truth to come out – not even Savannah knew what had happened to Sarah. “Sarah had been sick for a while before Judgment Day came. One morning about a month before J Day she snuck over the border to meet with a doctor that we’d become familiar with the services of. She’d been losing weight, fatigued, and she never felt right anymore. He diagnosed her with leukemia in the end stages. When Judgment Day came Sarah only had, at most, a couple of weeks left before she’d succumb to it. She took a pistol and headed out on her own to live her last days on her terms.”

“I’m sorry John,” he truly was, “But your mother is dead. She lived her life fighting the machines, but she lost the war for her own body to a combatant that she could never defeat: the decay of our own selves.”

Despite everything John Connor took the revelation pretty well. He’d long assumed that his mother was dead and that she’d died during this pointless war, but he never knew just how it’d happened. Now though he knew the truth about how his mother left the war and the Earth and he wished it’d been on her own terms (much like she’d lived her life). She’d left the war behind after her own body failed to support her anymore. She left this mortal coil because of the ravages of genetics and not the war that she’d sworn her life to fight. A part of him hoped that she was at peace but, in all honesty, John knew that his mother was spinning in her grave at the way it’d happened. He knew her far too well.

Then he noticed that the girl behind Ellison, Savannah Weaver, was taking it harder than he ever would. Streams of tears were coming from her eyes yet she remained a statue at Ellison’s side. Machines could cry, he’d seen Cameron cry once, but he knew now that Savannah was as human as he was. John walked up to her and looked at her for a moment like a General would inspect one of his troops. He realized that she’d stiffened herself trying to hold it all inside. John simply brushed one of her tears away with his thumb.

“You know my mother, if she were here, would probably be yelling at you for showing a weakness like that,” he pointed out to Savannah, “but, deep down, she’d be crying too. My mother knew the value of each human life and she would mourn just like you are. She’d probably do it was a cigarette and a bottle of Jack, which is probably why she died the way that she did, but everybody’s different. You go on and keep crying if it helps you to mourn her loss.”

“Thank you General Connor,” Savannah answered using the title that he didn’t deserve in this reality. “I stand ready for your orders and to give my life in service of humanity in the war against the machines.”

Despite her choice of words John couldn’t help but grin. There was that title again: General John Connor the leader of the Human Resistance against Skynet. A title he never wanted, didn’t feel he deserved, yet always seemed to find its way back to him. That was Future John’s rank, not the present’s honor. He looked her in the eyes and spoke his piece, “Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that. There’s been far too much death already as it is.”

“The question is,” the former FBI Agent interrupted him, “what’s our next move? By all rights you should be leading this group. You’re the man that leads humanity out of this Dark Age and back to salvation. It’s history.”

“You know I never really wanted that job,” again he was being honest with them and with himself, “and over the last few years since I arrived I’ve wondered how the great General John Connor would handle being in this world. You know what I realized? That John doesn’t exist here. Yet, nevertheless, he does because I exist. This isn’t the war that my mother prepared me for; this isn’t the battle that I was destined to fight. Yet, in many ways, they’re exactly the same right down to the people I deal with each and every day of my life.”

Savannah nearly cried out, “But you’re John Connor!”

“I know who I am,” he answered, “my mother’s drilled it into my head so many times that I can’t remember them all. For now, though, I’m going to be a dutiful little soldier and keep running things from the sidelines; making suggestions and recommendations to Kyle to let him lead the war.”

“That isn’t what your mother wanted!” Savannah yelled at him. “She wanted us to lead the human race out of this and to beat Skynet once and for all!”

John looked at the girl he’d rescued the day that his uncle was killed, “Just like my mother to have a Plan B waiting in the wings. Why isn’t she leading the Resistance anyway? A charismatic leader could probably have beaten that Ashdown fellow at his own game.”

“They had trouble taking my orders because of my age,” Weaver admitted bitterly. “They didn’t care about my training or my experience. They saw me as a little girl and that was enough for them to brush me aside. I wished then that they would’ve listened and I wish now that they really had. You have no idea how hard it is for me not to knock you on your ass right now!”

“You’re the daughter my mother always wanted,” teased Connor. “I’m not going to sit on the sidelines forever, Savannah, far from it. Right now though we need to consolidate our forces and we need to make arrangements with the Cyborg Resistance so that they can help us at Topanga. They were crucial in the last timeline.”


Ellison shifted his weight on his walking stick, “The what?”

“You know it best as John Henry,” he answered remembering the name of Cameron’s murderer as well as his own. “Weaver told me that John Henry was sent here to build his own army to fight Skynet; his Cyborg Resistance. Where is he?”

“We’ve never found him,” Ellison was shocked to hear the name of his old project. “You’re the first one that stepped into that time machine that’s come out of it that I know of. There is no Cyborg Resistance; there’s just Skynet.”

That was the first that John hadn’t expected to hear. He’d always believed that it’d simply been that he’d never heard from them because they were worried that someone would shoot first and ask questions later (which was probably why Weaver disappeared in the first place when they arrived). If Ellison – in a sense John Henry’s father – hadn’t been contacted, though, maybe he wasn’t here. Maybe the transport failed and he’s lost in time somewhere? Cameron I’m so sorry. What did he do to you?

“You mean that you’ve never heard from him at all?” He felt sick to his stomach. Things just got a lot more complicated, “What about Catherine Weaver? Have you heard from her?”

“My mother?” Savannah questioned with warmth in her voice. “My mother’s here?”

“In a sense - the machine that had replaced your mother came forward with me on that day. I haven’t seen her since I arrived here,” John paced the room rubbing his forehead. “Have you seen either of them?”

“No,” the Commander answered. “We haven’t seen either her or John Henry. John there is no Cyborg Resistance. There’s only us.”

It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t. Connor had another question – another possibility that could shed some light on this whole ghastly affair. He spoke quickly, “Do you have a benefactor?”

“A what?” Savannah didn’t understand.

“Have you been finding documents, plans, computer disks, anything that gives you information about Skynet or the machines?” John asked quickly again. “Anything like that? Ever?” Please God let them say yes!

“Every once in a while we do,” Ellison answered again. “We never knew where they came from though. I always assumed that it was from a machine that had turned like Weaver had.”

John rubbed his stubble covered face, “What if our benefactors are those two? What if they’re giving us what we need to survive? What if they have a Resistance and we just don’t know about it?”

“Entirely possible I’d say,” suggested Ellison. “If there is a Cyborg Resistance they’d probably want us to win just as badly as we want it. They’d give us the materials we needed to do it too probably. We have been finding a lot of weapons laying about lately.”

“Maybe even a bit more,” John pointed something out. “Remember when we were going after John Henry and Cameron? Do you remember what Catherine Weaver told my mother? She said that I’d save the world but that I’d need John Henry to help me do it. I always wondered what she meant, but now I know.”

“What did she mean?” Savannah asked as John walked toward the door.

Connor looked at the girl, “She meant I’m going to have to find John Henry to get that answer. Mister Ellison I’m going to bring those survivors back to you to give you that army. Keep the home fires burning for us would you?”

“You got it,” Ellison smiled, “And good luck.”

John stood by the door for a moment, “I’d never admit this but I don’t believe in luck; though I appreciate the sentiment. Besides you don’t need to have any luck when you have a destiny now do you?”

“I see your point,” James looked between him and Savannah, “good hunting.”

John nodded and left the room leaving Savannah and Ellison behind. James collapsed backward into the chair that he’d been using only moments prior and just stared at the closed door. Savannah placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and he clasped his hand around it. “That was harder than I expected.”

“You’ve done very well,” Savannah said softly, “The less he knows the better off he’ll be.”

“But there’s so much,” Ellison pointed out, “so much that he can help us with. I hope that he only realizes the truth about just how important he is to us. That he accepts destiny.”

“He will soon enough,” Savannah said soothingly. “If you’ll excuse me though I want to keep an eye on him and the teams as they go to the Enterprise. I don’t entirely trust any of them, now John Connor more than ever.”

Ellison looked up at his daughter, “Good luck.”

“Thank you,” she walked away, “Fortunately I believe in it and know we’re going to need every ounce of it that we can get.”
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Old September 29 2009, 09:01 AM   #93
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Chapter: 9
Characters: 42,747
Pages: 15
Paragraphs: 64
Words: 7,841
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Old September 29 2009, 02:49 PM   #94
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Ellison and Savannah have a couple of secrets hmm......interesting twist.
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Old September 29 2009, 02:55 PM   #95
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

An enjoyable continuation. Good dialogue, I can hear the actors saying their lines, although with Sarah Connor I found myself flip flopping between film and TV versions!
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Old September 29 2009, 04:37 PM   #96
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

NX74205 wrote: View Post
Ellison and Savannah have a couple of secrets hmm......interesting twist.
I decided to just come right out with it rather than keep implying that they had their own agenda. To me those two characters were among the most interesting additions to the series - anyone else remember the discussion thread from Allison from Palmdale right after Savannah Weaver first appeared? The thread went crazy with speculation: was she real, was she a part of Weaver (amazing we predicted that Weaver was in pieces but we never imagined it was the Eel), was she a baby terminator? It went from being about Cameron to being about the girl. - but back to the discussion at hand (I just rewatched Allison From Palmdale on the DVD set so it's fresh in my mind).

Ellison and Savannah are two of the most interesting additions to the franchise in my opinion. First you have a convert to Sarah's line of thinking because he's experienced it first hand and - unlike Silberman - he didn't go insane believing everyone was a machine. They you have this little girl who lost her parents to the machines and then dealt with a machine version of her mother. Then, when they started to connect, even the machine went away. I touched on this a bit when I wrote Savannah's story earlier and how she felt that everyone always left her. I thought it'd be an interesting contrast between John's view that everyone dies for him by having Savannah feel that everyone would leave her when the chips were truly down. There'll be more to this as the story progresses, but I hope that I got her resentment toward John down right.

The Badger wrote: View Post
An enjoyable continuation. Good dialogue, I can hear the actors saying their lines, although with Sarah Connor I found myself flip flopping between film and TV versions!
I was hoping for that when I wrote the pages between Sarah and Ellison. I had soldier Sarah who knew that she had to fight the machines, but then there's the underlying knowledge that she's going to die soon which lets the less guarded Sarah from TSCC to come out for a bit. For me, in a sense, to the character that's her version of hell (I had thought about including her thinking her cancer was caused by the T-1000 - I once read that contact with the mimetic polyalloy would cause cancer) and that the machines indirectly had won both their war against humanity and her on the same day would just add to the hell she was living in.

But I have to admit that this will be the only time that I write for Sarah Connor in this storyline. Will John and Savannah every so often hear her voice though? That's another tale .
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Old September 29 2009, 08:39 PM   #97
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

WOW. That was a huge piece. ANd thanks, I was really looking forward to John and Ellison talking. Great job!
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Old September 30 2009, 02:16 AM   #98
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Mistral wrote: View Post
WOW. That was a huge piece. ANd thanks, I was really looking forward to John and Ellison talking. Great job!
You're welcome. I considered being evil and skipping to John and Jesse leaving but thought that was just too mean.
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Old September 30 2009, 02:22 AM   #99
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Can I make a wee suggestion? Post these one at a time. I'm enjoying it, but I can't commit to reading three huge posts in a single go, and if I click on it to just read one, it resets my "already read" sensor (or whatever makes the magical bolding appear) and I lose my place in the story when I find my way back to it. I think you would get more feedback if you broke it up a little, and it would enable you to keep the story coming on a more consistent basis instead of in huge installments less often.

Just my two cents. I do like the story, I'm just having trouble keeping track of what I've read so far.
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Old September 30 2009, 03:25 AM   #100
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

kes7 wrote: View Post
Can I make a wee suggestion? Post these one at a time. I'm enjoying it, but I can't commit to reading three huge posts in a single go, and if I click on it to just read one, it resets my "already read" sensor (or whatever makes the magical bolding appear) and I lose my place in the story when I find my way back to it. I think you would get more feedback if you broke it up a little, and it would enable you to keep the story coming on a more consistent basis instead of in huge installments less often.

Just my two cents. I do like the story, I'm just having trouble keeping track of what I've read so far.
Actually that's not a bad idea. I may start doing that to help with flow.
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Old October 2 2009, 02:44 AM   #101
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

I'm enjoying this immensely NX. I love how you are merging both franchises together...it seems flawless. The paragraph about Ashcrofts attack on Skynet Central failing from Terminator Salvation was great.Loved seeing what Sarah and Ellison were up to after John left and Savannah as well. Reading this makes me wonder if you have any ideas about doing a Smallville continuation involving Superman?
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Old October 3 2009, 05:23 AM   #102
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Admiral_Young wrote: View Post
I'm enjoying this immensely NX.
Thanks

I love how you are merging both franchises together...it seems flawless.
Old habits die hard I'm afraid.

The paragraph about Ashcrofts attack on Skynet Central failing from Terminator Salvation was great.
I always took it that the major events from the series still happened, only they'd be slightly different. In this reality there was no John Connor to stop the futile attack, so it went forward without anyone stopping it and Skynet got the upperhand.

Loved seeing what Sarah and Ellison were up to after John left and Savannah as well.
I'm glad people liked that because I thought, while writing it, that it could go either way. I didn't know if people would like the idea of Sarah training a replacement for John as I wrote it.

Reading this makes me wonder if you have any ideas about doing a Smallville continuation involving Superman?
Unfortunately, for a while, this will be my final fanfic.
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Old October 3 2009, 07:39 AM   #103
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Strangely it wouldn't let me edit:

I plan on posting the first part of the next chapter tomorrow. I'm going to take the suggestion and try posting different sections each night.
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Old October 5 2009, 06:18 AM   #104
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Shortly before the world ended Cyberdyne processors were popping up everywhere. They were inside military goods, computers of varying specifications, even consumer goods that people took for granted somehow had been made better through the wonders of a computer chip. One of the biggest buyers of these technologies were the members of the automotive industry. These companies bought the enhanced processors in order to better run their products and to meet new governmental regulations. Under the auspices of the President of the United States’ orders for cleaner, greener cars the industry needed to keep things more effectively and the Cyberdyne CPUs were just what the doctor ordered to accomplish that. Even in their near microscopic state these cores could compute things far more efficiently than even the most advanced supercomputers.

That was part of the problem though. In addition to housing a powerful computational system that was at the level of allowing the devices to be able to think for themselves, the processors also contained a small transmitter that allowed them to connect to Cyberdyne servers at routine intervals. The official taglines were that these connections allowed the software to update regularly to make the equipment more reliable; or so the story goes. The truth was revealed not long after the first products made their way to the market. On April 19, 2011 when Skynet went online it contacted these processors and uploaded its malware into the CPUs as part of a routine software upgrade. Then it began using the conscripted vehicles on small test runs just to see what it could do. Since the processors had been hooked into the propulsion of the cars Skynet took control over many of them as it could and used them in tests. The results were far more effective than even Skynet could have anticipated. At first it made a few random vehicles run off the road then it intensified the tests by killing the occupants. After that it became far more sinister as it became more and more likely that the humans were going to try to kill it. It started taking over buses and construction vehicles and used them to take out as many people as it could. When it decided to destroy the world the cars became the first generation of Hunter Killers and were used to keep as many people as possible in the cities as the bombs detonated.

John Connor never particularly cared about cars or trucks just so long as they could him from Point A to Point B. Nonetheless, with the advent of the computer age when the bombs detonated and fired off their EMP charge most vehicles in the world had experienced their last hurrah (including a good many of Skynet’s own first wave of killers). Because of that the survivors who needed to traverse long distances needed other arrangements. From what he’d been told by Derek before the fall the Resistance had their own transportation and, much like today, they were all older vehicles from the (at latest) the early nineties before the overreliance on technology took hold. The cars and trucks that the survivors were using were the perfect example of this. The troop transport that they’d put together was one such example of the salvage. It was patched together school bus that had been painted, how he didn’t know, with urban camouflage colors to try to hide among the rubble as it roved for survivors. The roads weren’t always clear so they’d given it a few upgrades in the form of reinforced coverings on the front so that they could plow through any obstacles. Somehow the transport always made it to its destination and brought home survivors; nonetheless, it hadn’t exactly had many successes lately.

Even though he didn’t care about how he got from place to place there was something about a school bus that just made him uncomfortable. He didn’t know himself why he hated them so much. It was probably his own lack of a childhood that made him feel this way, or so he’d told himself over and over. Whether it be growing up in the jungles or South America or being on the run he didn’t have much time for the traditional upbringing where school buses were important to him. When he was with Todd and Janelle he’d had some exposure to the classic childhood, but he was more pissed off about everything with his mother’s prison life that he didn’t enjoy the brief break from his training and being constantly on guard (well except for the times he saw fit to break the law). He wasn’t a saint as a kid, but he wasn’t a demon either and, looking back, he still regretted some of the things he did. But, now, in the post Uncle Bob world in which he lived he longed for that mundane life with Todd and Janelle Voight where he could get into trouble and worry about the police and not a cyborg coming for him. The bad thing was that you just couldn’t pick the cards that you got in the poker game of life and Todd and Janelle suffered the same fate as anyone else who got too close to John Connor. They died because of him.

Though it could, just as easily, have been the reality of the survivor’s situation. Years ago that school bus delivered children to schools so that they could get an education and lead the world; then the day came that it would never have that lofty distinction again. The kids that once rode this bus were dead and would never get to live their dreams. Some of those poor kids even died sitting in those very seats and their bones littered them when it was put together. That was the most damning thing about seeing it, why it was so uncomfortable to be on it. It wasn’t the loss of his childhood or the extremes of his own life: it was the loss of life and the possibilities that were robbed of the last generation of humanity. Those were the reasons John Connor had such trouble with the school bus. So he needed a change – one of the few personal requests that he’d asked for.

The man who had been destined to be a General and lead humanity had gotten assigned to a different vehicle than that school bus though. He and a soldier named Wise were asked to ride in an old 1980 Ford pickup at point with Connor himself driving it because it was a stick shift. The shocks were worn out, the upholstery was ruined, but it was a surprisingly comfortable ride (anything would be better than the monkey wagon of a school bus though). The best part of it was that it was outfitted with a ‘borrowed’ phased plasma pulse gun that was mounted into the bed of the truck – it wasn’t like the metal bastard who they got it from would need it ever again. If they came under attack from above or even to the sides then they’d be able to take care of it if they moved fast enough. This Wise guy was supposed to be a pretty good shot, one of the best that Ellison had seen in his entire life, so John just hoped he was good enough not to miss.

At least he didn’t have to ride with Jesse in that school bus. He thought that he got over the death of Riley Dawson a lifetime ago, but the wounds of her death had come back to him not long after he first encountered Jesse in this world. As much as he didn’t want to admit it he’d cared deeply for that crazy girl he met after class that one day and ditched school with not long after. Maybe, just maybe, he even loved her at one point. That was until he realized that she was, like pretty much everyone in his life, a victim of the machines and Skynet. Plus she never treated him like his alias and didn’t seem at all surprised when she heard his true name that day in Mexico. Riley had always tried to protect him in some way or another and even was fearless in the face of Cromartie. It didn’t take much longer for John to realize that she’d been sent back through time, but her mission wasn’t from Skynet or from Future John as he’d come to call himself. Riley and Jesse were rogues sent back to break John’s support of Cameron. When she failed and realized the truth, Jesse killed her for her failure. Jesse’s plan, nonetheless, hadn’t changed from the get go. All along Jesse had planned to kill Riley and blame it on Cameron so that John would send the machine away. When he confronted Jesse about it in her hotel room he informed her that he’d never have relieved Cameron of her services, but he’d considered pushing the magic button that would destroy her chip. He even carried the locket, his mother having locked it in one of the secret bunkers that she’d constructed in the desert.

John thought he was over it but, when he saw Jesse again, all he could see was Riley when he first met her and then again as she lay on the metal slab in the Los Angeles County morgue. So much promise, so many possibilities, so much love and she was dead. Through the mysteries of time it was possible that Riley could be alive right now and roaming the Earth; though John had serious doubts about that possibility. With all the loss, all the death, and their dwindling numbers how could a girl have possibly survived through all this? How could anyone have survived this? He had to get these thoughts out of his mind though. How could he become the legendary John Connor when he kept thinking about the dead when the living needed him far more than anyone else did? His mother, Derek, Cameron, they all told him that he acted more like John Baum than John Connor, but how could you be a leader without having compassion or caring about the people beneath you? How could you lead when you ignored the very people you were fighting to protect and save? It messed with his head far more than he’d ever openly admit.

At least there was one other person in this truck who was as quiet as he was as they made this trip. Earl Wise was one of the best shots that Kyle had to offer, but he was as silent as the machines were. Hell, the way he looked forward with a cold stare John wasn’t sure if he wasn’t a machine; it was almost a dead ringer for the way that Cameron or Uncle Bob would survey the countryside. From what he’d been told Wise had been one of the ones that had broken off to make his own when Kyle became the leader after Derek stepped aside. He created a group of scavengers that tried to go it alone so that they could avoid Skynet forces better and they had had a lot of success at their evasion. Then, one day, they got picked up by a Skynet patrol near their hideout and they had an army of endoskeletons stop by for a quick visit. A dozen six hundreds and half a dozen seven hundreds plowed through their hideaway and killed everyone there but Wise himself; he’d somehow managed to escape through a storm drain and the machines didn’t follow behind. It wasn’t one of Derek’s or Kyle’s search parties that found him this time. While Savannah and a man named Garvin were out on patrol they found him sitting in the shadows with his Desert Eagle in his mouth. They talked him down and they brought him back into the fold. That was over a year ago and he was the last human that they found alive ever since then.

But not many people knew much about him. Both Kyle’s and Ellison’s notes called him an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a question and John could understand exactly what those notes meant. They’d been riding in the truck for over two hours now and he’d probably said maybe two sentences during the entire trip. The first one was to ask for the canteen of water and the other was to ask about the charge of the plasma repeater in the bed. That was it; the grand total of their conversation through the graveyard of downtown Los Angeles. John wasn’t big on small talk either and it seemed that Earl Wise would be able to give even Cameron a run for her money in the silence department; but John needed something to do to keep his mind off of all this. John had been in this world for three years and these big operations still had a bad habit of making him nervous – not that he’d ever show it. Plus there was another mystery about Earl Wise that he couldn’t answer. Wise was a man that John had, somehow, had a dream about only last night. When Skynet attacked the survivors in his dream it was Wise that blew up a Hunter Killer with Savannah’s help. It was Wise and Savannah who blew up in a fireball brought forth by an Aerial Hunter Killer. He hoped his dream wasn’t prophetic.

“Are you always so quiet?” John asked as he turned down another rubble lined highway and passed by the carcass of a burnt out Dodge Ram. He, momentarily, wondered if it could be the one he’d had as a kid.

“I’m not big on small talk and it’s not like there’s much to talk about these days anyway now is there? There’s not been any new television in a decade and a half, there are no movie stars to gossip about, and that only leaves the weather to talk about and it stays pretty much the same day in day out,” he said curtly. “Shouldn’t you be assessing our tactical situation anyway since you’re leading this mission instead of chewing the fat with me?”

John half smiled, “Just because I asked a question doesn’t mean that I’m not assessing our tactical situation. We just turned at Third and Cameron, or what was once Third and Cameron. We’ve just passed through a Skynet occupied zone that used to house my team’s hideout – that’s not exactly a tactically important piece of trivia just a bit about where I come from. There was a Centurion, a spider from the looks of it, on the third floor of the building that we just passed but it doesn’t appear to be in pursuit of us. Our biggest threats in the region are from potential landed Hunter Killer Assault Fighters because there aren’t any in the sky, or at least none that I can see and Skynet, so far, hasn’t found ways to make its planes invisible as far as I remember. The landing zone is to the north northeast so we’ll steer clear of it, which’ll mean our trip’ll take a bit longer than it normally would. Situation assessed.”

“Maybe you can do two things at once,” commented Wise sarcastically, “but I’d like to keep my attention on the road so that I can watch for the metal dicks. Besides I never took you for the chatty Cathy type. You seem a lot like me and you’d rather be quiet than anything else. Are your demons haunting you and you need to talk to someone to quell them?”

“I can’t listen to the radio and I get bored on long car trips. Besides, it’s not like we can play bug slug or anything like that.” John turned down another road and scanned the horizon. It looked like there was a T-600 in the distance on a hill. He waved out the window to show Jesse he was going to turn again soon and to point the enemy combatant to Wise.

“What the hell’s a bug slug?” Wise inquired as he spotted the Series 600. He bent down toward his legs and pulled a plasma rifle out from between them.

Connor watched him get the Plasma Rifle and then focused on the endoskeleton as it stood there, “Just a game I used to play with my mother on long car trips. When you see a Volkswagen Beetle you’re supposed to punch the passenger in the arm.” He was nonchalant to hide his own concerns about facing yet another machine while locked away inside the small truck.

Wise fired, from their incredible distance, and the purple plasma beam enveloped the rubber skinned infiltrator’s head. The robot fired blindly into the air and collapsed to the ground, its chip had been destroyed by the energy surge and half of its face had turned to superheated liquid metal. Earl – pleased with his shot – pulled himself back into his seat and returned the gun to its place between his legs. “I played that too as a kid. My dad and I would play it when we were on one of his trips to Death Valley for work; he was an ecologist studying the Valley for his thesis. We didn’t call it bug slug though; we called it punch buggy.”

John was more impressed by the shot than what he called the game, “I’ve never seen anyone make that kind of shot before.” Well not a human anyway.

“I take it you didn’t grow up in the backwoods of Pennsylvania when you were growing up then. I could shoot a gun before I could recite my ABCs and 123s.” Earl was teasing John, but it wasn’t entirely meant as a joke. His father had taught him how to fire a gun at a very young age and he was pretty good at it even then when the rifle was taller than he was when you set it on its stalk. That was why he’d been able to survive: he could fire a gun and rarely missed.

“I always did say that surviving in this world was a combination of thinking on your feet and shooting from the hip,” Connor informed the man. “I guess you just, naturally, get to take it to the next level. And, for your information, I didn’t grow up in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, you’re right about that, but I didn’t exactly grow up not knowing how to fire a gun or to think for myself.”

Wise was growing irritated by talking, “Oh really? Considering you’re from what was once Los Angeles did your daddy take you to a shooting range when you were growing up? A shooting range isn’t exactly the same thing as growing up in the woods quite frankly. I think that’s the only way I did survive and your claiming to have had a similar upbringing as mine is just a little insulting.”
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Old October 5 2009, 06:19 AM   #105
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Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

“My father was dead,” John reported to the man bluntly. “And I didn’t have the Club lifestyle that people assume kids from Los Angeles grow up with. I actually grew up in the jungles of South America where I had to fight to survive, where my best friend growing up was an M-16 rifle. I was only in Los Angeles for a little while and, while I was here, I was bumped from foster home to foster home until my mother got out of jail. Then I didn’t exactly have a Hollywood lifestyle even with my ex-con mother; before or after J-Day.”

“Should I be impressed by where you grew up?” He secretly was. Maybe Connor wasn’t that bad.

“No,” John shifted gears as he turned down another torn up road. “I just wanted to break your stereotype about kids from LA. It wasn’t always like TV claimed it was for kids living here.”

Earl looked at Connor for a second then watched the road again. He scanned it, “I wasn’t aware that I’d applied a stereotype to you and I didn’t watch much television; before the fall or after, so your assumption made an ass out of you.”

“How long is it until we reach the Enterprise?” John tried to change the subject realizing he was in good company. If Wise always acted like this he could see why Uncle Derek liked him.

Wise looked down at one of the maps that they’d found, “I’d love to whip out a GPS and get turn by turn directions and an exact time for you there John but I don’t think there are many GPS satellites still in orbit to give us a good enough fix. Besides we’d probably give ourselves up to Skynet if we tried to use one to find out where we are anyway.” He looked at his map, “If I had to make a guess though I’d say that we’re at the halfway point and maybe even the three-fourths point. So we should make it by sunup if we keep this pace and if we don’t get involved in any Skynet entanglements.”

“Avoiding Skynet these days is like trying to ask the moon not to rise at night,” the destined leader of the Human Resistance answered the other man in the cab of the antique truck. “I don’t know about you but I want to get out there and get as many people as possible onto our side as we can and then get the hell out of there.”

“Do you have an idea how we’re gonna do that, fearless leader?”

John thought about that for a moment like an applicant trying to figure out the best possible answer for a job interviewer. It was a good question: what exactly were they going to do when they reached the Enterprise? It wasn’t like they could just waltz right inside and take over the helm of the ship, they needed a plan and it needed to be the best plan in the world if they were going to win this battle. He’d had a few ideas what to do but that was pretty meaningless if he didn’t have an idea on how to get onboard the damned ship.

Presumably the Enterprise was the one he was the most familiar with: the nuclear powered aircraft carrier that the navy had used from the sixties. Cameron once explained to him that Skynet had outfitted all United States military assets with Cyberdyne processors to make them more efficient and more capable in the millennial age; some of them even were being deployed with the computer serving in the role of Captain. Presumably that meant that it was the CVN-65 he was heading toward unless Skynet had brought back the CV-6 from the dead or there was another Enterprise out there (but it would’ve been under construction if was one of the next generation carriers and it was unlikely Skynet would waste the resources on completing it). That gave him a greater advantage than anyone could possibly know. When he was living with Todd and Janelle they’d taken him to tour the Enterprise during Fleet Week so he’d gotten to explore the ship a bit. Plus he had another opportunity. If the computers were in control over the carrier then they’d have some ports where he could gain access. At heart John Connor may just have been a grunt in this reality, but he was also an expert hacker and he had the tools he needed to do his job. He could hack into the system, confuse the Enterprise’s hardware enough to let them get through the front door, and they could get as many people as possible then get out. John hoped.

“I have an idea or two,” John finally answered him after a moment. “I just have a little refining to do before we get started.”

Earl finally took his eyes off the road, “Well why don’t we both shut up so you can focus all of your attention onto the problem and come up with a solution before we get to the Enterprise and before we have a hundred tin cans trying to blow our brains out? I wouldn’t want to be the reason that the great John Connor – destined leader of humanity – couldn’t figure out how to open up a door.”

While John turned the convoy down another road he looked, for a moment, at Wise and wondered just how he’d heard the story of John’s past. It wasn’t important, plus he’d been goaded enough with his supposed destiny over the years that he’d learned to ignore people when they taunted him about it. So John kept driving in complete and total silence toward their target and kept mulling over the plan of action that he was about to implement. Fortunately he’d been able to get out of that damned conversation that he, like a fool, had stumbled into with Earl. It had also, at the very least, reminded him to keep quiet during long car trips and to keep that policy in the future.
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