Nothing belongs to me. All belong to Fox and James Cameron and Joss Wheedon. I own nothing.....Futures Past
The garden was dark, dimly lit by the lights from the den with just enough illumination for Sarah to make out the slim form of the figure that was gracefully dancing through a series of movements in the twilight, hands and feet in ceaseless, endless motion, drawing pictures in the air that only the dancer could understand.
She leaned against the doorframe and just watched their unlikely saviour as she danced; all her bones gone liquid with exhaustion. It had been quite a day, even by the standards of their fucked up little family unit and somehow watching their guest move around the garden was subtly relaxing.
There was something hypnotic about the way the dancer moved, a kind of elevated fluidity that was somehow slightly more than human, in some ways more like a terminator than the normal man in the street. But where the perfect fluidity of the terminators caught the eye and sub consciously repelled, the grace too studied, too inhuman, the dancer’s grace drew you in, an expression of the soul underneath, liquid grace edged with pain and haunted by suffering. It was arresting and absorbing and it was as if the young woman who danced somehow had managed to echo all of the older Connor’s emotional pain, all the turmoil and the trauma and the weight of the burden of the world’s imminent destruction that she could never, ever put down.
She swallowed and averted her gaze before the pain so eloquently communicated in those liquid, fluid movements pulled the lump of tears in her throat into her eyes. She couldn’t afford tears. Not now. Not ever. Not when if she ever started crying she might never stop.
There was a creak of a floorboard behind her and her head shot round, every muscle tense then abruptly relaxing as Derek came up behind her to lean on the other side of the open patio doors. For a moment they both watched the dancer in silence before he shifted and raised an eyebrow at his fellow observer.
“What’s she doing?”
Sarah didn’t even pretend to misunderstand him. “It’s a kata. Some form of tai chi I think. Maybe kung fu.”
Derek raised an eyebrow and rubbed the back of his neck with one calloused hand. “Huh. You recognise it?”
Sarah raised a shoulder in a half shrug. “Some of it. I never really did much of the traditional martial arts. As you know, I started late and all I wanted to know was how to beat the shit out of someone and get out of there. So I couldn’t tell you exactly what each form is called but one of my instructors used to use it to warm up so I recognise bits and pieces.”
Derek raised his chin in acknowledgment. “Yeah, same for me. I didn’t really do any martial arts before Judgement Day and afterwards it was just about learning anything quick and dirty enough to let you survive. And anyway, unless you’re like her
,” he raised his chin to indicate the girl dancing the grass, “martial arts aren’t going to help you much against a terminator.”
“That’s true.” Sarah watched in silence as the newest member of their group moved through a few more graceful patterns, flashing back to the impossible memory from that afternoon of watching a human girl rip the head off a terminator with her bare hands. And even more amazing she had done it without any real sign of effort.
She still didn’t really get it; some part of her still convinced that the girl must be like Cameron, another terminator reprogrammed to protect her son. But according to Derek, who had been the one to insist that the younger woman come with them after the altercation this afternoon, she was 100% human.
Just a little…..different.
She glanced over at her companion. There was something almost wistful in his eyes as he watched the younger woman dance, a sort of carefully covered awe that she had never seen before and a vulnerability that she only saw at times when he looked at her son and obviously saw echoes in John of the brother that he had loved and lost.
“How do you know her?”
He turned his head to look at her, a frown etched into his features.
Sarah tilted her head to look at him. “She hasn’t given us her name but it’s obvious that you know who she is. You were the one that insisted that she come with us. Not that I don’t think she’ll be an amazing tactical asset, but for you – for you it was personal.”
“It’s none of your business,” his tone was flat and uncompromising but she was used to his tactics by now and she didn’t give up easily. She never had.
“It is my business if you expect me to allow her to live in close proximity to my son,” her tone was sharp and he winced. “It’s obvious that you two have history. Now what is it? You knew her in the future?”
At his startled look she rolled her eyes impatiently. “She doesn’t have a tattoo so she’s obviously not a prison camp member of the Resistance. I doubt you knew her as a child and she’s too young for her to have been a one night stand while you were waiting for us to turn up. At least I hope that she’s too young.”
She continued, ignoring Derek’s derisive snort. “And anyway, you know her, but I don’t think she knows you so that puts the damper on that idea. Unless both of you were so drunk that she can’t remember.”
She smirked at him and he rolled his eyes in response, crossing his arms and slouching further against the doorframe. There was a moments silence before she pushed him further.
He frowned at her again.
“How do you know her?”
Realising she wasn’t going to give up, he shifted uncomfortably under her unrelenting gaze before replying. “Yeah. I knew her. But she didn’t know me. I was just an ordinary soldier, just a grunt, and she – well she wasn’t.”
“But you knew of her?” she prodded.
He shrugged, carefully nonchalant. “Yeah, of course. Everyone
knew of her.” He turned to look at Sarah, eyes catching the light so that she couldn’t read the emotion in them. “You know how I told you how some guys carried around that photo of you? Sort of used it like a good luck piece?”
She shifted uncomfortably under his gaze and nodded. She didn’t like to think of that, of some faceless mass of people she had never met idolising her. She knew why John would do it, understood the propaganda value in it for the Resistance, but she didn’t like it nonetheless. St Sarah of the fucked up soldiers.
It was like being some form of religious icon and she had never been comfortable enough with the idea of a deity in the first place to be anyway near comfortable with the idea of being elevated to one.
He looked at her for a moment longer, before transferring his gaze back to the girl moving with such ceaseless grace in the garden. There was that look again, that strange mixture of desire and awe and a level of respect he had never shown to her.
“Well, if you were one of the Resistance’s pin up girls, she was the other.”
For a moment she stared at him, trying to make sense of his words. How could this delicate seeming, inhumanely strong teenager matter so much to him? Or to so many thousands of other people in the future? How could she have made such an impact?
They both half turned as a footstep creaked on the floorboards at the entrance to the den, only relaxing a little when they saw it was Cameron. It was unnerving having a tamed terminator in the house sometimes, especially one whose re-programming had been shown to not be totally foolproof.
It was like having an attack dog padding around, one who’s training they couldn’t quite trust. Although John had assured the two of them that Cameron was fine and that the re-programming couldn’t be overridden unless she suffered another trauma to her chip neither of the two adults could completely relax around her, Derek because he hated any “metal” and Sarah because she couldn’t afford to trust wholly in a machine who had already proven how deadly she could be to both herself and her son if something went wrong.
The terminator came up and stood between them, gazing at the dancing figure in the garden who had briefly glanced up through the patio doors at the machine as she had entered the room, assessing her and deeming her no threat at the present time before turning back to her dance.
The terminator’s head tilted to one side as she analysed the dancer’s fluid movements. “Suparinpei. The Goju-ryu kata. Extremely difficult for a human to perform perfectly.”
Sarah turned to her, eyebrow raised in query. “And is she performing it perfectly?”
Cameron raised an eyebrow in imitation. “Of course. As expected.”
Sarah frowned. “As expected? So you know who she is as well?”
Cameron kept looking at the figure dancing in the garden with that inhuman liquid grace. “Of course. Skynet held files on every captured prisoner and every prominent member of the Resistance. The data is part of my core programming.”
Beside her Derek snorted and pushed off from the doorframe, clearly eager to get as far away from close proximity to the “metal” as he could. As he moved away Sarah narrowed her eyes at him in irritation.
“You still haven’t told me who she is!”
He gave the terminator a cold look as he moved away into the house, casting the older woman one only slightly warmer. “Ask John’s guard dog. After all she’s got files
.” The last was stated with a biting rasp that spoke of bitter experience of being merely a number in a similar file. There was a reason that he wore a Skynet prison tat and hated the terminator so absolutely and Sarah knew from the look in his eyes that she wasn’t getting anything useful out of him tonight.
She waited until he had gone and then turned to the terminator, who was still watching that dancing figure with inhuman concentration. No doubt assessing her for threats Sarah considered dryly.
“So – who is she?”
Cameron turned to her, one eyebrow raised, seemingly surprised. “You genuinely wish to know?”
“Yes. I do. I like to know who and what sleeps near me and my son at night.”
Cameron shrugged, her body language imitating a human adolescent so closely that it was eerie. Whatever,
her whole body said. Then she focused her inhuman gaze back on that graceful moving figure.
“Buffy Anne Summers. Known as “Slayer”. Number 2 on Skynet’s priority termination list after John Connor. Second in command of the Resistance. Primary tactical and strategic advisor to John Connor. Supreme Commander Resistance Forces EMEA.”
“EMEA?” Sarah queried numbly. That petite, seemingly traumatized teenager dancing in her garden would be all that?
“Europe, Middle East, Africa,” Cameron clarified succinctly, before continuing. “Commander of the Resistance forces responsible for the defeat of Skynet at the Battle of London, the Battles of Florence, Rome, Seville, Berlin, Prague and Madrid. Commander of the victorious fifth, sixth and seventh Battalions in the Battle of the Nile, the Battle of Athens and the Johannesburg campaign. Personally responsible for the destruction of Skynet’s European and African manufacturing centers and for the eradication of Skynet’s major European server centre in Bonn. Also likely responsible for the defeat of Skynet at the Battle of Moscow, although Russian accounts of the action are inconclusive….”
In the garden the figure had finally stopped moving, and stood watching them, head tilted to one side, silently assessing. The moonlight shone down on her hair, turning the cascade that Sarah knew shone a soft shimmering gold in the sunlight into an icy tumult. The girl’s face was a mask in the dimness, the sharply edged, beautiful features limned by the light from the den into something almost Halloween like. And her eyes, those great changeable green eyes, so full of pain that someone so young shouldn’t have known, so full of suffering that her son, with his natural empathy, had been immediately and inextricably drawn to her, his need to just fix things coming to the fore - those eyes reflected the light like those of some great predator, gleaming in the darkness.
Cameron was still continuing her list of battle honors while the two human women stared at each other, Sarah struck with a sudden sense of foreboding that she couldn’t quite explain. Somehow she knew that this young woman was going to be pivotal to their plans. To her son’s life.
Cameron finished her recitation and took a deep breath. “And of course, as well as the undoubted tactical advantages that killing Buffy Summers would have led to, Skynet also considered the psychological advantages as well. Killing Buffy Summers would have had a severely disabling effect on the Resistance's leadership and would have at least temporarily disabled John Connor as well.”
Sarah's entire body turned with to face the terminator, suddenly desperate for some sort of an explanation. Who was this girl? And why did she suddenly seem so important?
“Why would her dying disable my son? What psychological advantages are you talking about?” she enquired sharply, somehow knowing that the terminator’s answer would change everything.
Cameron continued, unaware and uncaring of the ramifications of her reply. “Buffy Anne Summers married John Connor in 2010. She will be both his wife and his most loyal ally.”
Sarah’s gaze snapped back to the girl in the garden in shock and in the moonlight the eyes of her future daughter in law looked back at her with calm, ceaseless appraisal.