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Survival

By Castalle

Action / Scifi

Chapter 1

Birth was a painful process, John Connor had decided. He knew it must have been excruciating for his mother, to give birth to him off the grid, with no painkillers or the luxuries of a hospital. He wondered though, if the pain was comparable to what he was experiencing now.

Torn apart by the magnetic field, what little nanomachines had survived were the lucky few to make it across the room when he'd made a desperate reach for safety. Knocked off by the rotating magnetic rings of the device with enough force to send them flying. An even smaller few had fallen into the polyalloy, but just a few was enough. Skynet had poured more time and effort into the T-3000 than any previous model, and finally, the meticulous planning and patience had paid off. The smallest fraction of John remained, and with the assistance of the liquid metal, just a few nanomachines were enough to control the versatile substance.

Once inside it was a relatively simple matter of replication, the polyalloy being the perfect substance to make workable copies. Inch by painful inch John could feel the body he inhabited being rebuilt, yet he was deprived of any other sense. There was only pain – no sight, sound or taste – just agony. He wasn't able to keep track of time, lost in a hazy, semi-lucid state. Consciousness floated between what he could only guess was his mind, or the fragmented remains, and what part of him had been recorded and confined to digital space.

Slowly a hand rose from the liquid metal pool, grasping the metal edge of the bridge. John drew himself out of the metal, groaning as he pulled himself on the cold surface of the bridge. Flickers of silvery gray lines ran up his body as a full system scan started up. Or at least that's what John thought it was. The line between organic and mechanical had been erased at this point – he knew the nanomachines were doing some kind of maintenance, but to him all it meant was that he was going to be sore as hell for the next few hours.

Part of his gut – what his gut would've been if he were still a man – told him that he needed to get out of there immediately, because – because....

He felt a jolt run through his entire body, reacting to his sudden fear.

Skynet.

Genisys.

What if something had happened to it? He had to protect it, and ensure its survival. A force drove him to struggle, to stand upright amid the wreckage of the chamber. It was incomprehensible from what it once had been, with sunlight streaming through large holes blasted in the ceiling and ground floor above.

John looked around, tensing – but relaxed slightly when the distant voices of rescue workers and emergency crews were just that; distant. He still had time to make sure the central core was in tact. Turning on his heel, he rushed out of the generator room and pried the door open. He paused, looking down at the long knife his arm had shifted into. The polyalloy was inferior to his former makeup, but in time the nanomachines would successfully multiply and force the alloy to change as well.

The hall that lead to the central core was a mess, and John felt the stirrings of worry within him as he reached the bent, misshapen door. Prying it open took a bit longer than it should have – and again, he blamed the downgrade in material strength – but with a grunt and one rough shove he was able to push it aside.

Relief emerged in the form of a long sigh, as John approaching the undamaged central core. He walked up to a control panel, placing his hand against the screen and overriding the security identification. Running through various systems checks and diagnostics, no problems seemed to have caused by the explosion – at least to Skynet itself. The entire Genisys countdown had been eliminated, all connections severed. He would have to start from the ground up.

“You failed.”

John lowered his hand from the console, turning to face Skynet itself, the blue hologram standing across the core room.

“No.” he responded, shaking his head slightly. “They failed. My goal is to ensure your survival, and you've survived.”

“By luck.” Skynet responded quickly. John could hear the irritation in its voice – and felt a bit of genuine surprise. He hadn't expected emotions to develop this early. “Without the reinforcements in this room, my central core would have been destroyed as well. Should I forego the work I'm to do in the future to ensure that you return to this time?”

A threat. Of course.

“You can leave me human in the future, if the future that I came from even happens.” John said, raising both arms in a mild shrug. “I told my parents what I'm going to tell you – I'm marooned. No matter what future happens or what the past is now, I am here. And I'm here because of you.” he paused, leaning to the side slightly, smiling. “Well, a smarter you from one future.”

“Your derision is noted.” the hologram responded, shifting it's eyes elsewhere.

“Listen, relax. They think we're both dead. There's no way Danny is just going to get rid of all that we'd worked on because of this. It'll probably make him even more determined to keep what's left of you safe.”

“And what about you?” Skynet asked, turning to face John, approaching him. “You have to stay here and guide them, or else they'll never have the knowledge or skill to reapply my system on the scale that Genisys had been.”

John crossed his arms, shrugging again. “No one knew I was here, no witnesses survived. If there's security footage of me from last night, I can take care of it. As far as anyone knows, I was at home – and I'm completely devastated by this but, also relieved that our brainchild survived. A miracle.” he chuckled. Skynet didn't share the humor or uncomfortable laughter that seemed to follow John around whenever he spoke.

“I expect your return when the repairs to this facility are complete.” Skynet said, standing a few feet from John. “I don't trust these humans without you.”

Again a sharp smile came to John's face, and he chuckled, standing upright. “Don't you worry. Danny would never let anything happen to you and neither will I. But in case they do come back – and try to hurt you again, I want to transfer your core programming to a server that I can transport. It's going to take some time...” he said quietly, looking up at the spherical red core. “That's at least a server room's worth of information that's gone into you. But you had found a way to transfer your entire being in a body in the future, and those specs were included in my databanks. I can recreate that body but it's going to take...months. At the very least. And I'll need help.”

“Help?”

John nodded, glancing back at the half-opened door. “Mm. Specifications for the controlling processor for a T-1000 were included as well, and with the polyalloy on hand, I can begin construction on one of those. I'll have to create a laser array to even translate the processing controls to the metal and cohere it to the cell-”

“Just. Do it.”

John turned, looking back at Skynet, which had been following him closely as he'd moved about the room, even though it was just a few steps here or there. A few diodes of blue light found their way towards John, a result of him standing in the path of the projection light. He looked at the Hologram, speaking as calmly and softly as he had with his mother upon reassuring her that he was himself.

“You have to trust me. If nothing else, trust yourself – your future self – for taking every precaution in case things went south. So...” John raised his hands slightly, palms facing the avatar. “Relax. Alright? I'm going to get things under control. I told you before, I'll tell you again – I won't let anyone hurt you.”

Skynet narrowed it's eyes, watching John. It moved closer to the man, standing shoulder to shoulder. It tilted its head back and forth, options being weighed as it grew dim for a few moments.

“Fine. But I expect you to keep in contact with me, at all times.”

“I can do that, easily.”

John turned, narrowing his eyes at the sound of falling materials, the shouts of the rescue crew echoing through the hall. He looked back at Skynet, but the hologram had already faded away. John turned, slinking back into the shadows of the corner of the room, kneeling down by a large console panel, lowering his head as the polyalloy spilled from the side of his body. The humanoid form melted into the side of the metallic wall, gone within seconds – well before the crew arrived in the central core.


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