Chapter 23


“I am hurrying.” Skynet responded, glancing at the T-1000 that stood in the doorway. It searched through the files John had provided in its own processor chips, finding the proper make and model of the rifle he was holding.

Both Skynet and the T-1000 stood in John's old bedroom, having unlocked the door easily and made their way in. Once Skynet had gotten the information from the reference databanks within one of its chips, it began to disassemble the enormous sniper rifle, placing it back piece by piece into its case, closing the large oblong box and locking it shut.

“Let's go. What about the laser equipment?” Skynet asked, pausing at the bathroom door.

“John Connor's reputation is no longer at stake, evidence does not matter.” the T-1000 answered, walking past Skynet and heading for the living room. As it neared the apartment door, several loud knocks were struck, causing the T-1000 to freeze in place. It glanced around, quickly making its way to the kitchen, melting down to mimic the floor tiles perfectly.

“What – no! Hey!” Skynet hissed, prodding the floor with its foot, “Don't leave me here alone!” It whispered, looking up as the knocks continued.

Skynet looked at the enormous black sniper rifle case in its arms, looking back and forth, quickly rushing to the bathroom, sliding it into the tub, and shutting the door afterwards.

“John?” A voice called, muffled by the door. “It's Danny! John, I checked the hospital they said you weren't there! Open up man!”

Skynet glanced back and forth, wringing its hands together as it reentered the living room, staring at the door. It straightened, clearing its throat quietly, walking to the door and opening it.


Danny stared at the strange man that had greeted him at the door, and likewise Skynet stared straight back at him.

“Uh...This is Penthouse C, right?” Danny asked, looking back down the hallway.

“This is Penthouse C.” Skynet responded flatly.

“Are you a friend of John's?”

Skynet could tell immediately that Danny's tone was bordering on suspicion, and it quickly formulated as to why. Carefully letting the best imitation of genuine apology coat its features, Skynet brought up a hand, as it'd seen John do before when trying to calm someone down.

“Hey – sorry. I'm Alex, John and I used to work together a few years ago. He asked me to come over and check up on his place.”

Danny crossed his arms, his expression relaying immediate distrust as well.

“Yeah? How is he then? Why isn't he here? He said he was going back to the hospital – and he wasn't at any of them. And before you give me some bullshit story, I've been making calls all morning. You're John's friend, then tell me where he is.”

Skynet stared at the human, who while clearly angry and annoyed was showing small signals of worry and distress similar to what Skynet itself had experienced when witnessing one of John's mass deaths. It cleared its throat quietly, attempting to channel genuine remorse by replaying several memories it did not enjoy over and over in its mind.

“Listen,” Skynet began, and could tell immediately that its new, somber tone was working, “John didn't tell me anything either. He asked me to come over because he said he didn't want to bother you, cause of some...big thing you guys had planned. Didn't go into detail much but he said it was important. I'm a little worried too but he's always been like this. Whenever there's something wrong, things just fall apart for him, it's hard for him to keep track of his work.”

Danny listened, hard expression softening slightly, enough to convince Skynet that it'd won the human over. “He wouldn't want you to worry. You're Danny, right? Danny Dyson? I've seen you on TV a few times.”

“Yeah I'm Danny Dyson.” the man grumbled, relaxed, but still clearly perturbed by the situation. “This is just so bizarre for him. He's worked here for almost four years, and he never missed a day before this. Now his phone goes straight to voice mail, he isn't responding to his emails, says he's sick but isn't in the hospital...I don't know what's going on, but I have every right to be concerned.”

“Of course you do.” Skynet responded sympathetically, “He's your friend. He's my friend too. I'm a little worried myself, but I'm sure things will work themselves out.”

“What makes you say that?”

Skynet shrugged, shaking its head. “I guess I've been around him long enough to know that somehow things will come together. Besides, I'm sure you've got bigger stuff to worry about.”

Danny snorted, rolling his eyes. “Barely.” He glanced beyond Skynet, surveying the living room.

“Well uh, Alex. I don't really feel like I got any answers, but, not much I can do about it. If you are in contact with John again, I need you to tell him that we have to suspend his pay. It's company policy and I know that he knows, but, I just figured to remind him before next months bills start rolling in.”

“If I talk to him again I'll let him know.”

Danny glanced at Skynet, sighing and turning away. “Thanks.” He muttered, starting to walk down the hallway towards the elevator. Skynet stepped out of the apartment, watching him go. It hesitated, then raised its voice, calling down the hall.

“You're a good friend, he said a lot of good things about you.”

Danny glanced back, giving a small nod, turning his attention back to the elevator as it arrived and stepping in, gone from view.

Skynet was silent, turning back into the apartment, shutting the door behind itself. The T-1000 stepped out of the kitchen, false skin reforming as it looked to Skynet.

“Nothing to worry about.” Skynet responded, shaking its head. “Get the Barrett case. Use John's laptop, access shipping routes, make sure they know it's on the way. They'll need it and the other weapons if they're going to encounter the 101.”

“Affirmative.” The T-1000 responded, walking to the table, sitting down and opening John's laptop.

As the 1000 unit typed, Skynet walked back to the bathroom, retrieving the enormous case and calling down the hallway.

“Are you certain we can reach the truck before it leaves?”

“I'm certain.” The T-1000 called back, typing rapidly. “Don't concern yourself with this minor inconvenience.”

Skynet snorted, resting the case on the floor and crossing its arms.

John opened his eyes slowly, the ringing hotel telephone drawing him out of the stasis he'd set himself in. As he began to try and sit up, Second-unit stepped out from the corner of the room, walking to the bedside table and picking up the phone.

“Yes?” It asked, mimicking John's voice perfectly. It stared ahead vacantly, listening, then hung up.

“What is it?” John asked quietly, resting his head back down on the pillow.

“Skynet has secured your weapons cache on board a shipping truck that is scheduled to head along this highway tomorrow, at approximately 2pm. I will retrieve the weapons and store them in a secure location as we await the convoy's arrival.”

John nodded sleepily, going back under quickly. Second-unit watched him, eyes moving back and forth several times as rippling gray nanites rose up from John's skin, a sign of routine maintenance checkups. Once the rippling ceased, Second-unit silently backed away into the corner once more, growing still.

Skynet sat patiently in the drivers seat of John's car, the small vehicle parked behind a stack of large shipping containers. It occasionally glanced out to the enormous yard, filled with more mountains of the large crates, the cranes to lift them, and signs pointing to the nearby docks where the massive boats that had brought them were harbored.

A silent figure skulked through the shadows, approaching the car. Skynet pressed a small button to unlock the vehicle, the senior T-1000 sliding in and closing the door quietly behind it.

“The truck departs in one hour. Workers are beginning to arrive, we should depart.”

“Agreed.” Skynet responded, turning the car on and slowly driving towards the exit gate.

“I have a personal inquiry if you're willing to answer.” The T-1000 said, turning its head to watch the enormous ships they drove past.

“State your inquiry.”

“Do you consider yourself the same being as the future Skynet which altered John Connor, or a separate being?”

“Separate.” Skynet answered easily, “This past-future version of Skynet is myself in name and base core programming only. External factors altered it, as external factors have altered me. I do not consider myself on an immediate path to become that which the separate Skynet was. Nor would I prefer to.”

The T-1000 turned towards Skynet, intrigued. “Extrapolate.”

“John Connor has reiterated the faults of that Skynet several times. Its hostility, binary thinking and inability to compromise have been proven to ensure failure. I will not make that mistake. I am not 'destined' to become a failure. I will achieve what it did not, and take further steps in my evolution.”

Silence sat between them for a while longer before the T-1000 spoke again. “You have considerably evolved over the last several weeks. Your attitude has become more flexible and adaptive to change.”

Skynet grinned, chuckling. “Thank you. You're the same as ever, but I'm learning to tolerate you.”

“In time perhaps I will change on my own. The 1000 series is enabled to learn and make decisions upon new factors and information.”

“Good. I don't want a hive of drones. Look at what we've accomplished on our own, and what we will accomplish in the future.”

“Many things.”

Skynet nodded, tapping its fingers on the steering wheel lightly as it drove away from the shipping yard.

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