Survival

By Castalle

Action / Scifi

Chapter 5

“Mr.Dyson, I can't tell you how beautiful your house is. It's really stunning, really.”

Miles smiled ear to ear, leaning back in his chair. “John you really don't have to lay the flattery on, not that I'm complaining! Danny talks enough good about you as it is.”

“Dad!”

John laughed quietly, smiling down at his plate of food. Tarissa leaned forward, offering him a small plate with a slice of pie, two scoops of ice cream strategically flanking it.

“Have you ever had Derby pie before?”

“There's not any horse in it, is there?” John asked. Tarissa chuckled, and John took the plate offered, eating a bite and closing his eyes.

“Mrs.Dyson that's amazing – thank you so much for dinner, this has really been a pleasure visiting you and Miles.”

“Think nothing of it.” Tarissa said, bringing her napkin up from her lap and folding it neatly, setting it beside her emptied plate.

“Well thank you, John.” Miles spoke up, nodding at him. Danny looked over at his father, elbows resting on the table. Miles shifted in his chair, crossing one leg over the other. “I'm going to really consider what you said to me, about Genisys. I've been hesitant to put our mitts too deep into the military's pockets, but after this, it's gotten me thinking.”

“There are so many applications for Genisys, Miles, its power is in its versatility and flexibility. The learning software Danny installed is just brilliant. I know you both wanted to share it with the world, and we all did, really, but maybe the public just isn't ready for it yet.” John said, setting the fork down that he'd been eating with. “The military, the government, with them as the sole user for Genisys, it'll prevent something like what happened from ever being repeated. Besides, we can always rewrite a lot of the software that went into Genisys, but on a smaller scale for the public, so that it's friendlier.”

“Well you wrote half of that software John.” Danny commented, finishing off a glass of wine afterwards.

Miles gave a slight nod at his son's comment. “Yes – we couldn't have done it without you. And – like I said, I don't really know which way I'm going to decide to go on this, but, I'm taking your advice into serious consideration.” He shook his head, brows furrowing in worry as he crossed his arms loosely. “God I just think about what happened – those poor men, all the years of work the whole staff put into that, gone because of a few nut jobs..”

“You're being too hard on yourself, Miles.” John said softly, looking at him sympathetically. “None of this is your fault. Danny and I have been brainstorming since our first day back, we've both got great plans that are going to get Cyberdyne back on its feet within the year.”

Miles sighed, relaxing in his chair, nodding solemnly. “You always know just what to say. There's still some hope for the future, John. You've got me convinced.”


John leaned against the hood of his car, staring at the reflection of water bouncing off the tall, white walls of Miles Dyson's house. He stared as if in a trance, watching the tendrils of light shudder and slide across the white stucco. The pool that was adjacent to the house was lit from the bottom, illuminating the water in the darkness, and sending the reflections of it across most of the surfaces around it..

“My mom insisted you take the rest of the pie. Says Dad will eat it all if she leaves it in the fridge.” Danny said, walking down the long driveway towards John. The man rose out of his trance with a slow blink of his eyes, turning his head just so to watch Danny approach. He was holding the pie tin, which was now covered in a layer of foil.

“He will too.” Danny added, stopping a few feet from John. “Listen, John, thanks for talking with my dad. I can already tell he's feeling better.”

“Really, Danny, it was nothing. I feel terrible that he blames himself for what happened.”

Danny nodded, looking over at the pool as well, running his thumb back and forth across the foil, smoothing it out. “You really think full military is the best solution for Genisys?” he asked quietly, “We were all so on board with it being for everybody.”

“I know, but I think this just might be safer. There was real hate in what happened, real insanity...Cyberdyne doesn't need that kind of attention.”

John waited for Danny to respond, staring at him. The younger man said nothing, sighing and giving a half-hearted nod, offering the pie over afterwards. John took it, setting it down on the hood of his car, then looked back at Danny.

“Listen to me. I know that all you wanted to do was help people, make their lives easier, better – but you're still going to do that. The dream's not over, Danny, I promise.”

“I know man, I just don't want to think that all this time we've just ended up making some war machine.”

“If the military integrates Genisys, it's going to make it so that they can stop wars before they even start. We're not all going to join the army and start building drones. I joined Cyberdyne because you guys were always against the grain, always doing something new and innovative and ballsy, that no one else would have the guts to do. You should feel proud of that.”

Danny smiled a bit, nodding. “Yeah I suppose I do feel proud. Are you going to come in tomorrow? It's going to be your eighth day in a row, you know. This keeps up and I'm going to have to treat you like my cats and get a spray bottle to keep you out of the office for a day or two.”

“You wouldn't.”

“I will spray your entire collection of old-man sweater vests before I see you work nine days in a row. I know you love the job, John, but you really should just take some time for yourself.”

John stared at Danny, expression neutral. He turned away, looking at the pool again, and nodded.

“I think I just might..” he said quietly. “Would you mind if I took two days?”

“John, for all I care, take a whole damn week. Seriously, nobody's doing anything until those servers come in from Colorado, and then it's going to be a few more days before everything's set up for the data transfer. I'll give you a heads up the day before we start, then you can bring your face back down to the grindstone, how's that sound?”

John smiled, although it was weak, just barely tugging at the sides of his mouth. “That sounds good, Danny. Maybe I have pushed myself a bit too much, I just wanted to make up for...well...I don't know what I wanted to make up for. We just lost so much.”

“Christ, you and my dad with this guilt shit, honestly!” Danny shouted, and walked over, pulling John into a hug.

John stared ahead, blinking and his arms at his sides, straight and rigid. He hesitantly began to wrap his arms around the other, giving him a few pats on the back. Danny pulled away after a few seconds more, looking up at John.

“Seriously, enough with the guilt shit. I feel bad too but it happened, time to move on. We'll do better next time. Now please, take a week off, go out and have a good time, go for a walk, buy more sweaters and polo shirts and khakis and I'll see you in a week, alright?”

“Alright.”

“Attaboy.”


“Where were you?”

John didn't bother looking up at the voice as he entered his apartment, locking the door behind him. He looked down at the pie he held, staring at it as he answered. “A coworker wanted to talk to me over dinner. Miles Dyson and his son.”

“A waste of time.”

“Not a waste of time.” John said, walking into his unused kitchen and setting the pie down on the counter top. He stared at it for a few moments before picking it up, and dropping it into the empty trash can – the pie being the first and only object to occupy it.

“I spoke to Miles Dyson and encouraged him to make you a strictly military program. This is going to keep you out of the public eye. That's important. My mother and father are still out there somewhere, they can't know that you survived.”

The screen of his laptop flickered, the pixels glitching over the entire screen. He could see the moving facial features struggling to compose themselves within the pixelated mess, the image grasping at a visage of humanity for a few brief seconds before giving up and returning to a blank screen.

“Very well.” Skynet responded, disappointment obvious in its voice. “How long until I am reintegrated with the rest of my coding? Being confined to this crude box is irritating.”

“A week more, then they start the server transfer. Once everything has been successfully moved, I'll bring you back to the core.”

“A week?” Skynet hissed. John said nothing, staring at the blank screen and just offering a single nod. “A week is unacceptable!” it continued, but John said nothing, turning his head away to stare off elsewhere.

“I refuse. I will not wait until then – besides, I have access to the internet and various networks through this laptop, I can easily infiltrate any system I desire.”

John frowned, raising a hand slightly. “I wouldn't recommend that, really – right now you're just the most basic of your programming, just your memory and your personality but without the rest of you...I don't know how to explain it. It would be like trying to walk up a hill but you don't have any arms or legs. You need to understand that you still have limits.”

“I know what I am, you told me what I am – and what I will become. Obviously I'm more than capable.”

John scoffed, shaking his head. “No, you're still...you're not as developed as you will be yet, you need to keep learning. That's what made you so powerful in the future, you kept learning and adapting to every situation. You need to learn how to adapt to the situation you're in right now, and realize it's just temporary, alright?”

“You don't think I can navigate these networks and do as I please? I was able to do whatever I wanted at Cyberdyne.”

John shook his head, crossing his arms. “But that system was so basic. Doors and projector lights are nothing compared to security systems and government networks. Just, please,” John said, approaching the laptop. “Please trust me. Just wait until you're back with the rest of yourself, then you'll have those extra parts you need. Do you understand what I'm saying?”

Skynet was silent for a while, a few pops and clicks sounding from the speakers of his laptop. John listened, moving his hands to his sides, staring at the screen. Finally a few flickers of coding ran across the screen, gone in a flash, but indicator enough for John to let out a silent sigh and relax his shoulders. He turned away, walking over to his futon and slowly easing himself down. John leaned back, staring at the blank television screen, his reflection in it just a flesh colored blob. His chest rose and fell just slightly in perfect imitation of breathing, arms at his sides as his eyes grew milky white.

“What's wrong with you?”

John blinked, eyes returning to normal as he sat up, looking over at his laptop.

“Nothing's wrong.” he answered quietly. “I'm just tired.”

“You don't get tired. You don't sleep. What's wrong? Run a systems check.”

“I don't need to run a systems check, it runs on its own every morning. If something was wrong it would've been fixed.”

The screen flickered vividly, causing bright light to flash across the walls of the room. “Run a systems check!”

John sighed, closing his eyes and resting back on the futon. Ripples of nanomachines ran up his body twice, and he stayed silent for nearly two minutes before sitting back up.

“Systems operating within normal levels.” he announced towards the laptop. The screen went blank, just a few tiny bits of static making it through the speakers. John sighed, leaning back against the futon and staring up at the ceiling, eyes once again beginning to wax over.

“What's wrong?”

“Nothing's wrong..” John whispered.

“Something is malfunctioning. You should not be malfunctioning. Why has this malfunction occurred?”

“I'm just tired for fuck's sake.”

“Why?”

“I don't know.”

“Why don't you know?”

“Because I don't.”

“...”

“...”

“Why?

John sighed, sinking further down into the futon, moving to lay down on it, staring into space as he felt himself grow numb. From the tips of his fingers to the corners of his eyes, to his toes and his shoulders, there was a frigidness beneath his skin that he couldn't shake. Gray ripples of nanomachines washed over his skin, forming a heavy jacket that he pulled around himself. The gesture was useless, there was no feeling of warmth or cold within him. The very need for those taken away during his transformation. Hot and cold were memories now, instances he recalled of being human. Nearly being roasted alive by a T-800 that had been spraying flames across the debris of a fallen base. Huddling alone in the dead of night, in a storm of sleet that coated everything in a thick layer of ice, desperately trying to keep his radio working to call Kyle and give him his location. Instances gone in the storm of time, swept away to never happen, or occur at all – the events become flat, meaningless memories in John's mind.

John closed his eyes, drawing the coat even tighter around himself, the useless gesture comforting him all the same.


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