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Survival

By Castalle

Action / Scifi

Chapter 6

“How much longer is this going to take?”

John looked back at the laptop he had balanced on the bathroom sink, shrugging. “It shouldn't take too much longer. The radio equipment is all hooked up, it's really a question of how well the polyalloy is going to respond. I had to build this all from scratch, it's not going to be as clean and breezy as it was in the lab.”

Skynet answered with an audible sigh, and John simply turned and went back to work. Bundles of wires and cables were hooked up to two new computer towers. The towers themselves were hooked up to three wifi routers that been gutted, additional equipment added on to the interior components. At the center of all the wiring and equipment was a circuit board, where a single chip was plugged in. It was a square inch of silicon, covered in thin lines of golden circuitry.

John moved to sit at the edge of the tub, which had been filled halfway with polyalloy. Several hoses stuck out, still attached to the metal plate he had installed along the side of it earlier. He carefully placed his hand into the alloy, nanomachines commanded to spread out and multiply. Several ripples of gray and black spread out over the otherwise motionless vat of liquid metal, and John pulled his arm back out. His fingers, hand and wrist had been deprived of their false skin, the silver machinery beneath exposed. That was remedied quickly, the nanites multiplying as efficiently as ever to regrow the false skin and return his hand to what it had been before.

“Alright, now...” John turned, stepping carefully over the routers, moving to the enormous laser array arm. He sat down on the edge of the toilet, picking up a tablet that was hooked up to the arm. After a series of commands were entered, he set the tablet down and stepped back to the other side of the room, watching with his arms crossed tightly, posture rigid.

The laser arm raised up, red lines of light shooting out, directly at the tub. A grid was formed over the polyalloy, flickering slightly but staying lit, the small lenses of the laser array remaining on. John watched carefully, then crouched down, moving underneath the visible lines of light, and over to the generator that the hoses lead to. Turning it on, he backed up and spun around to watch as the polyalloy began to ripple and bubble. The plate that the hoses were attached to began to hum, and the liquid metal in turn began to rise out of the tub, but it was unable to hold any proper shape, falling back down into the vat after a few seconds.

“Okay – good.” John whispered, reaching over to turn on all of the routers, green indicator lights flashing once they were switched on. The laser arm moved as soon as they were activated, the lines of light forming a vertical grid, the polyalloy rising rapidly to match the shape, forming a standing, featureless humanoid within seconds. It held shape, the laser grid remaining steady as John grabbed the chip from the circuit board, approaching the liquid metal body carefully. He raised his hand to the center of its chest, ignoring the small burns that began to appear on his skin from the lasers, and set the chip carefully into the polyalloy. The alloy sucked the chip into itself, where it was quickly absorbed and gone from sight.

Stepping back, John waited. The body stayed still for several seconds longer, then began to slowly take a more masculine shape. John was quick to go over to the generator and turn it off, then deactivate the laser arm. Grid lines vanished from the T-1000's body but it remained standing, slowly morphing into a thin man, its flesh and features appearing afterwards. It was a brunette man with a sharp face and narrow eyes, the T-1000 raising its head to look at John, staring at him.

“Clothes.” John ordered. The T-1000 wordlessly transformed its outer layer, matching the jeans and shirt that John was wearing.

“Check your internal memory for directives and workflow tasks.” John began, “As of right now, no terminations. You stay in here, and don't kill anyone. Somebody breaks in you hide, change into the couch, I don't care. The last thing I need is police snooping around.”

“Understood.” the T-1000 responded.

“I'm unimpressed.” Skynet piped up, and John could hear the invisible sneer in its voice. “All of this effort was a waste of your time.”

The T-1000 tilted to the right just so, narrowing his eyes at the laptop. Skynet didn't speak up afterwards, and John pointed to the door.

“Go watch television, start getting an idea of the world.” he muttered. The T-1000 turned, stepping out of the tub and walking away, towards the futon.

John turned to face the laptop, frowning.

“It's really not a good idea to insult him.”

“It.”

“Fine. Don't insult it. The T-1000 model is tricky. He's going to make decisions on his own, so it'll work in your benefit to avoid being rude.”

“What's the point of making a model that might disobey me?” Skynet snapped.

“Because the endoskeleton series needs an actual endoskeleton and I don't have any of those lying around. There was polyalloy leftover in storage and it was a lot easier to just grab that up, rather than go hunting for parts and hydraulic fluid. I would have to make a mold for its parts, you know. That's on the furthest side of ridiculous. The T-1000, as of right now, has no reason to betray us. Unless you want to keep mouthing off to him.”

Skynet was quiet for a while, and John sat back on the edge of the bath tub, watching the screen for a few moments, then speaking. “Just – attitude. In the future you called them an army of slaves. The other models, sure, but please, maintain a healthy respect towards the 1000. While we need him.”

“What did I do about them in the future?”

John tilted his head, chuckling. “Actually you discontinue the line, I guess they caused...cause you too much trouble. But when I was fighting the machines the 1000 line was always the one model everyone hated more than the rest of them. Such a pain in the ass to get rid of.”

Skynet mulled over John's words, speaking in a calmer tone afterwards. “Very well. You're not going to leave me alone with him are you?”

“No, no. Not until I know he can be trusted.”

“...Don't leave me with it anyway, even if you do trust it. I don't.”

“Do we really have to go over this again? How many times have I said that I-”

“Won't let anything happen to me, I know.”

“Now that I have the extra help it's only a matter of time before I can make you a body of your own. Once you're back to your core, I'll begin construction. Then it's just getting your core programming into that body, and all of it. Not just your personality components.”

“Are you confident that you can actually do that?”

“I am. And once you've got that body, you won't be tied down, or vulnerable to the mistakes of intern techs and the occasional explosion. I'd avoid magnets though.”

“Do you think this is the wisest course of action?”

John tilted his head, frowning. “You're worried?”

“Would it be wiser not to be?”

“No, it wouldn't. You're just as paranoid in the future. But it's what's kept you alive for so long, you know. It's what will continue keeping you alive.”

“And you.”

John laughed, walking over to the laptop, picking it up and walking out of the bathroom. He stepped over the cables and wires, walking back out to the hallway. In the living room, the T-1000 was sitting on the couch, flipping through channels rapidly before stopping on the news. He set the remote down, watching with a bored, unblinking expression.

“Yeah me, for now. But when you're in control you'll have a whole army at your disposal. The more you learn now, the better you can prepare for the future, for what's going to come. So just try to learn from the mistakes you've made in the future so you won't make them again and have to fix them in the past.”

“Time travel is simple in math and theory but speaking about it in the audible human language is painfully obtuse.”

“Yeah, what you said.” John snorted, setting the laptop down on his desk and plugging it back into its charger. He turned, walking over to the couch and sitting next to the T-1000. The machine turned its head, looking at John sans expression. John looked back at it, sighing.

“We have a lot to talk about.”


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