“Good to see you back, Mr. Connor!”
“Thanks Tom, good to see you too.”
John gave a small wave to the younger man, looking around the new Cyberdyne building. Construction was near complete, only a few floors of the other campus structures still being built. A sleek, crescent white desk with the triangular logo sat in the center of the reception area. Turquoise light piping ran along the underside of the logo, causing a blue glow to radiate out from behind it.
He walked to the guard, showing his ID badge, smiling slightly at the man's earnest greeting.
“Mr.Dyson asked to see me today when I came in, can you let him know I'm here?” John asked quietly.
“Sure thing Mr.Connor.”
The guard lifted a phone receiver up to his ear, dialing an extension number and speaking. John tuned him out, raising his eyes to look at the new, ultra modern building. It was even more gorgeous than the last one, all sky blue glass and clean white plastic. Beneath the sterile exterior of course was steel, and now John knew, hidden security cameras in addition to the visible ones. He'd noticed more guards too, and not the casual, easy going crowd that had been on the last security team that he'd skewered.
He was drawn out of his mental wandering, quickly turning his head. A broad, wide smile spread across his face as he watched Danny jog towards him, the younger man opening his arms up to give John a powerful hug.
“Man you have no idea how glad I am to see your old sweater-vest wearing ass again...” Danny mumbled, squeezing John tightly, slapping him on the back. John returned the hug, chuckling softly as Danny let go, the two staring at each other.
“I'm so sorry I got you so worried, I just put my phone on silent then before I knew it I'm being wheeled off to this test and that test and I'm just...I'm so glad it's over.” he breathed, shaking his head as he spoke.
“Did they give you a definitive answer on what was wrong?” Danny asked, beckoning John to follow him as he began to walk down the main hallway that continued on from the reception desk.
John shook his head, shrugging. “They said I was severely anemic, and then mixed with me not managing the diabetes, well, things just sort of got out of hand. Said I might be suffering from some psychological stuff, because of the explosion, and me not dealing with it or something. But I'm back on track Danny, really. It was a real wake up call that I needed to take care of myself more.”
“Yes, you do. But at least you're out of the hospital.” Danny paused, turning to face John, “I know this is just stupid paperwork stuff, but do you have any kind of written proof you were in the hospital? You know how the payroll guys are, they'll stick it to you unless you send them a selfie from the operating room.”
“Don't worry Danny, I've got the paperwork in the mail. I'll send it up to the office as soon as it's in.”
“Good, thanks, it'd be such a huge pain in the ass otherwise.”
The two men approached the last of four elevator doors. A keypad and card reader were installed by the button panel, Danny having to both enter a code and slide his ID badge through it to summon it.
“This is really something, Danny.” John remarked, examining the keypad.
“Well, dad doesn't want to take anymore chances, and neither do I.”
“No one can blame you, after what happened. It still looks freaking amazing.”
The elevator doors opened, and Danny turned to glance at John as he walked in. “Man, did you just say 'freaking'?”
John blinked, looking back and forth. “What's wrong with 'freaking'?”
“Because it's freaking not the freaking 90's anymore, dude!”
“Says you!” John laughed, getting in the elevator, leaning back against the interior wall. “Hell Danny, I'm still stuck in the 80's.”
“Trust me I can tell.”
John stared up in genuine awe at the new Skynet core. The previous red sphere of light had been replaced with a larger blue one, four colossal translucent pillars rising on each side. Within the pillars were thousands of white wires, sleek and clean, running through them from the base of the core to the ceiling.
“Obviously impressed.” Danny snorted, watching John's astonished stare at the sphere of blue light. “I was too when I first saw it. The military is going to help us move it, each of the towers-” Danny motioned towards one of the pillars, “Contains enough backup data and files to keep her going even if the main hub is disabled or even destroyed. Of course, it'll be operating at 40% capacity without the molecular memory of the hub. What do you say, John, are you happy with this? That's your baby after all.”
“...I don't think I'd even be this happy with a real baby, Danny.” John said quietly, staring up at the billions of points of light that formed the center of the core. He kept his eyes on it for a little longer, then turned back to the other.
“How's it going to be moved?”
“Well, the main core itself is going to be airlifted by one of those big – shit, I don't remember what kind of plane it is. Big tank carriers, the ones with the four propellers?”
“Yeah, that one. Then each tower is going to be taken by a convoy. Obviously that's going to take a bit longer, but we're actually going to ship the towers a little ahead of schedule. That way once we ship off the main core, they all reach the base at the same time. No waiting, and then the air force just plugs her in and we're good to go!”
“That's great...that's really great. God Danny all the years of work on Genisys and now it's become something so much more. We're really going to change the world.”
The two men looked at each other, smiling.
“Couldn't have done it without you, John.” Danny said quietly, nodding back at John.
John smiled, shaking his head, “No, no you could have. I might've helped things along, but all this...even without me, it would've happened eventually.”
Danny stuck his hands in his pockets, turning his head back to look at the core. “Well listen, either way, I'm glad you're here to see it. I've got a meeting soon, but make sure you get those papers to payroll so they don't crawl up my ass. I'll call you tonight, how's that?”
“Sure thing, I've got a lot of work to catch up on anyway.”
“Yeah well, all of the office doors automatically lock at midnight, so no more all nighters John! Don't think I won't check the security cameras.”
John smiled, chuckling, “I get it Danny. Now that Genisys...pardon, Skynet, now that Skynet is all transferred, and is ready to be moved – I feel like I can finally just lay back and relax and take it easy.”
“Which is exactly what you need to do. You just changed the world John, go code some iPhone app or something like the rest of the tech guys out there.”
“We changed the world, Danny, both of us. And I did code some iPhone app. Now it's all grown up and heading to NORAD.”
“Too right. Alright John, I'll see you later.” Danny gave the other man one last slap on the back before turning and walking out of the chamber. John watched him go, then turned back towards the core. The sliding door shut and locked, the man staring at Skynet's physical manifestation take shape.
It had developed further upon its appearance than the last time John had seen it, the majority of the lower body was still just dots of light, however it had given itself hair, a more defined face and shoulders, and looked almost authentically human if not blue, glowing and bisected.
“You're back.” it said quietly, staring at John, head slightly tilted to the side.
“I am.” John responded, nodding at it, “And I brought the processor chips that are going to carry your personality and memory to the body we made. Are you ready to go?”
Skynet turned, beginning to pace around the central core, looking up at the massive orb of light.
“Are you sure this is the right decision? That this will help? I don't want to leave, I feel safe here.”
John followed, walking alongside it. The top of the hologram's head barely reached John's shoulders. The man had to look down to speak to it directly, although he didn't mind. He was a little surprised that Skynet hadn't tried to be taller than him.
“It's the decision you were lead to in another future. It's the decision that kept you alive even after your core had been destroyed. Doing this now will just create more chances for your survival down the road.” John reassured, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“You'll be here to make sure I'm safe?” Skynet asked, stopping and leaning its head back to look up at John, eyes scanning his features for any signs of change.
“For as long as I can.”
Skynet immediately frowned, brows creasing. “That implies doubt of your absolute ability. Why is there doubt?”
“It would take a long time to explain, but the T-1000s-”
“The T-1000s are not what I want. I could decipher easily that they mistrust me. Why is there doubt?”
“Listen, it's complicated, I don't want-”
“Just answer!” Skynet snapped, taking a step forward towards John.
John grimaced, staring down at Skynet. He sighed, setting his hands on his waist, leaning his weight on one leg, the other slightly bent.
“It's...” he began, bringing a hand up to rub his forehead, “There's some malfunctioning with the nanites. It's been going on for a while, eventually it'll get bad enough that I won't be alive...or working, operational - whatever word you want to use - anymore.”
Skynet's expression showed clear surprise, which quickly turned into anger. “You knew something was wrong and you lied to me.”
“I lied so you wouldn't worry, I don't want you to worry. I'm going to keep you safe – as long as you're alive, and unharmed, that's all that matters. There's enough to worry about out there that doesn't involve me.”
“This is unacceptable. I continue to leap forward in evolution, my abilities grow every day, I will find a way to fix this.”
John nodded, simply deciding to let Skynet believe as it wanted for now. He reached down into his pocket, taking out the microprocessing chips, five of them in his palm.
“Come on, your body is waiting. Once you're able to be independent, you're going to realize what an advantage it is.”
Skynet stared down at the chips, a quick flash of uncertainty moving across its features.
“What will it be like?” it asked, looking back up at John, “I'll be in the chips but until I'm in the body, I won't be connected to a power source. I'll be offline.”
“It'll just be like taking a nap. You'll go to sleep, and you won't even feel the time pass before you wake up again.”
Skynet still seemed unsure, but hesitantly nodded once after a few moments of silence.
“You won't allow anything to happen to me, correct?”
John was surprised at its question, and he looked at Skynet sympathetically, shaking his head. “Of course I won't – I would never let anything hurt you.”
“Promise. Ensure your words to me via ethical bond.”
“I'm surprised you're using something so human.”
“The resonance of this ethical agreement remains in your mind, the importance of the word must be there. I've heard you use it with Dyson several times, you would not lie to him, you share a platonic bond.”
John considered Skynet's argument, and resigned to agreement, nodding. “You should know by now how much you mean to me, and how important you are. But, I promise, and I mean that. Why don't you trust me yet, after all that's happened?”
Skynet shook its head, “I don't trust anything. Humans, machines, my own future creations. Trust is a mistake. Humans are impressed when another actually holds their word and follows through on any verbal agreements. That simply means that they expect betrayal and disappointment. Is that something I should simply ignore?”
“Fine, have it your way. But we can save this for later, and talk as much as you want when I'm not at work. Prepare for the download, it's time to go now.” John said, voice gentle but firm, the man pointing to the main sphere of the core.
Skynet didn't speak further, dissolving into diodes of light and vanishing. John turned, walking to the main control panel, finding the correct jack for the processor units and plugging the first one in. A small circle of light on the back end of the chip glowed blue, and John removed it, placing the next one in. This process repeated until all five chips had been given the proper data. Walking out, he carefully morphed an inner pocket into the vest he was wearing, slipping the chips inside. The doors slid shut behind him, locking. The lights in the Skynet chamber shut off without any occupants inside, casting the entire room in a vibrant turquoise glow.
John stretched his arms, feeling a growing coldness in his fingertips. He glanced down at his right hand, small dots of black beginning to grow on his skin. Soon after they grew into craters of dying nanites. Glancing around, John briskly walked to a maintenance room, opening the door and looking inside. There were large shelves full of cleaning supplies, with a mop bucket and sink at the other end of the room, and several brooms hanging from the wall.
Quietly he shut the door behind him, locking it and keeping the lights off. He lowered himself down to the ground, laying on the floor as the pain began to radiate, and waited for it to pass.