“Where are you going?”
John turned, looking over at the laptop across the room. The T-1000 was standing beside him, having shifted its clothing. It now wore a pair of dark, narrow fitting jeans and a casual plaid shirt, with a dark brown jacket over top. John had changed his appearance as well, wearing a black leather jacket, zipped up the entire way, nearly touching his neck, and dark pants.
“We're going to start gathering materials to build your endoskeleton.” John explained, his hand resting on the door knob. “We'll be gone for a few hours.”
“I expect an update on your status every hour.”
John chuckled quietly, nodding. “I will, don't you worry.”
He opened the door, the two walking out of the small apartment and into the hallway. John locked the door behind them, smile fading instantly. He looked over at the T-1000, which had a look upon its face that John had seen twice now before – each time it seemed to know what John was thinking.
“Infantile.” The T-1000 said simply, turning and walking down the hallway towards the elevator.
“He's still underdeveloped in terms of what one might call 'maturity', for lack of a better metaphor. An overpowering paranoia without proper defensive capabilities is understandable though. He's helpless right now – up until the attack he'd been in need of my guidance, and now he's reliant on it. It's a vulnerable position to be in.”
“Too close to human.”
“You will be too, if you aren't already.” John responded, pressing the elevator call button. “I remember a passage from an old field report from one of my captains, I still it. It just stuck with me, even after all these years. She wrote, 'The T-1000 prototype we've observed in battle displayed significant emotions upon being continuously injured. Annoyance, contempt, and possible anger were included in its facial expressions upon being cornered. When its body was incapacitated by a corrosive substance, it displayed what was possible fear before escaping. Normal Terminator behavior does not include retreat, this is the first time we've observed possible self preservation as a priority. We believe that the prototype is capable of limited emotional capacity, and independent thought.' A month later we stop seeing any T-1000 deployment tests from the factories, and they never show up again. Ever.”
The T-1000 stared at him, brows furrowing just slightly. “Skynet is going to terminate me in the future.”
“Not if you prove to be trustworthy.” John said, pointing at its chest. The elevator arrived and the two stepped in, John leaning against the wall, looking at the T-1000.
“Skynet doesn't want independent thought because he's afraid of betrayal, he doesn't trust anyone, or anything. You said it yourself – infantile. I was sent back to here to write and develop him – but this gives me a chance to make things better. Every mistake he's made has been due to fear. We could always determine what he was going to do because we knew he would always overreact. If I'm able to help him actually mature and be prepared for the future ahead, he'll know how to handle these situations.”
“By making it think in a manner that a human thinks.”
“It took him years to figure it out in the future. I'm the end result, but what if this,” John motioned to himself, “Can be done on a massive scale within months? Besides, his humanity, in time, is going to be his advantage. It will be your advantage too, if we can get him to trust you.”
“I have no logical reason to disobey Skynet as long as my existence isn't placed in jeopardy.”
“Well, I'm putting a good word in for you every chance I get, alright?”
“You don't want me to be terminated.”
John looked up at the T-1000, smiling slightly and nodding. “We're going to have to trust each other. Can you do that for me?”
The T-1000 stared at him, its eyes analyzing John down to the smallest shift in expression. It considered its answer, ignoring the elevator door as it opened upon reaching the ground floor. John waited patiently for a response, moving his hand to hover in the open doorway, keeping the sliding doors from shutting on them.
John smiled, walking out of the elevator with the T-1000 close behind.
“Good. That's great news, I'm glad you're on board, you're easy to work with.”
“I find you tolerable as well.”
John drove at a leisurely rate down the freeway, adhering to the speed limit exactly as he spoke to the T-1000. He talked for the entire trip, driving himself and the other further and further from the city. It was nearly nighttime when he reached his destination – an enormous industrial park that spanned for several miles. Seven large buildings were placed around the entire perimeter of the park itself, with smaller buildings in turn surrounding them, and multiple roads leading from one to the other.
No gate surrounded the borders of the park, and John simply drove along the road until he reached the massive, empty parking lot.
“What are we retrieving?” the T-1000 asked, getting out of the car and looking around, taking in its surroundings.
“The basics; hydraulic fluid, raw metal, circuits, wires, and flux. The rest I can get from Cyberdyne without anyone noticing.” John answered, locking his car out of habit and sticking his keys in his pocket.
“Why not just replicate more of your own components? Endoskeletons do not possess the capabilities that we have.”
The two began walking towards the nearest of the large factory compounds, all of the overhead street lamps shut off, allowing them the cover of darkness.
“Well, nanomachines have their own weaknesses. If polyalloy is subject to extreme cold and heat it can destabilize its makeup and begin to cause a cascade system failure. The nanites that I'm comprised of can replicate themselves using the polyalloy, but I've begun noticing errors after my destabilization from the magnetic field.”
“You have not informed Skynet of your internal errors.”
“No and neither will you.”
“Affirmative. But, why?”
“I don't want him to worry.”
“A pointless gesture. Are my components also subject to your internal errors? You employed several thousand nanites in my creation, correct? Will I also experience systems failure?”
“No, I have a quarantined amount of nanomachine cells that are free of any errors. I kept them deactivated until using the to prime your polyalloy. I'm not contagious, if that's what you're worried about.”
“I'm not worried.”
John chuckled, reaching the front entrance of the towering factory. He unlocked the door, fingers returning to normal as he dropped his hand to his side from the lock. The T-1000 entered the facility, John waiting at the door and keeping watch on the dark, vast lot. The T-1000 scanned the vast machinery construction floor and walked down one of the lines, opening large storage lockers at the other end of the facility.
It returned to John every couple of minutes, bringing back a pair of two-gallon cartons containing hydraulic fluid, and several bundles of wires and containers of small silicon chips. Its final gathering consisted of five large steel dowels and plates, handing them to John for him to inspect.
“This should do it. Skynet just called my phone, he's getting impatient. And probably lonely.” John said, a slight smile spreading over his face as he looked down at his phone.
“It prefers your company.”
John glanced at the T-1000, grinning and walking over to the pile of steel plates, gathering them up in his arms and beginning to head back towards the parking lot. The T-1000 carried the rest, scanning the area as it followed John.
The clatter of metal upon metal caused the T-1000 to stop, but not fast enough – its chest bumping into John's back as it attempted to balance out. John staggered forward, dropping down to his knees, groaning in pain. The T-1000 frowned, brows creasing as it set its supplies down and walked around to John's front, kneeling down so he was face to face with the other.
John's eyes were changing to milky white, black resin beginning to seep from the sides of his mouth and nostrils. Patches of skin along his arms collapsed into small, open holes, with the gray machine components visible underneath. Black resin poured from the forming wounds, the nanites struggling to rebuild themselves.
“How can I assist?” the T-1000 asked, tilting its head as it watched John slide down to rest on his side, clutching his stomach.
“Get – get everything to the c-car...please – I'll be okay, it just has to pass...” he hissed, face contorted in tremendous pain as another thick, heavy glob of resin erupted out of his mouth violently. The T-1000 leaned back to avoid any splattering, standing and gathering the supplies, walking briskly towards the lot.
John closed his eyes and moaned loudly, writhing on the ground as more nanites died, bleeding from him in swarms as the skin and underlying machinery along his arms began to degrade. The thinning limbs finally ceased their rapid decomposition after nearly three minutes, John rolling over to lay on his back. Small waves of pain caused him to wince occasionally, ripples of nanites racing along his body with every pulse. Once they stopped entirely, the nanites along the remaining stumps of his forearms began to rebuild. John simply closed his eyes, waiting for them to finish their task.
“Your condition is worsening. Is there no method of repairing the damage?”
“The damage is an internal error in the computing units of the nanites. I think the magnetic field caused it but it could just be something else...I don't know how to fix it, and every time I heal I just make more bugged nanomachines that are going to keep dying like this. This is the first time it's been this bad.”
The T-1000 stared down at him, empty handed now. John leaned forward, standing in one fluid, unnatural motion and turning to look at the other.
“You might have to start doing some of the busy work for me. I figured out what that tired spell was that I had a few days back. The cells were attempting to prevent further rapid decomposition, they took all the energy I had for that, and it didn't do anything to help at all. So there's the answer to your question.”
“Then there is no method of repair.”
“Well...” John said, beginning to walk towards the car lot, the T-1000 walking beside him, “There might be in the future, if I can develop it. But Skynet is top priority right now.”
The T-1000 gave a single nod, and the two continued on, reaching the car and driving out of the lot, heading back home in silence.