DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann and zennie for the help.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: First part of 'The Future's Past' series.

The Mission
By ralst


Cameron titled her head to one side as she watched Sarah complete yet another set of pull-ups. She did not understand the human's need to exercise so ferociously; the benefit to her cardiovascular system and musculature had long since passed its peak and all her subsequent efforts had, Cameron assumed, accomplished nothing more than sore muscles and fatigue.

"What are you looking at?" Sarah dropped to the ground and turned to stare at the girl. "Why aren't you inside protecting John?"

The scorn in Sarah's voice was obvious, but Cameron paid little heed to the other woman's temperament. "Derek is with him." She took her time to look Sarah up and down, her face displaying nothing of her thoughts. "He does not like me."

Sarah knew she meant Derek, but couldn't decide why she was bringing that up now, when it had been patently clear for weeks that the latest addition to their unit loathed the very air Cameron pretended to breathe. "You're a terminator," she said. "What reason could he possibly have to like you?"

"John likes me." Both Johns liked Cameron, of that she was sure, although she did not as yet know the nature of younger John's infatuation. "He does not think I'm a scary robot."

Sarah didn't know if that was one of John's strengths or weaknesses. "He's just a boy."

"He is the saviour of mankind." Cameron's delivery robbed the title of all its importance, and Sarah wondered if that reflected her true feelings about John, the man, or if it was just further proof of her inability to feel anything. "He will turn on you," Cameron added. "When it comes time to destroy me, he will fight against you."

There was no denying the inevitability of Cameron's death; if they won and destroyed Skynet, her continued existence would be the ultimate threat to a terminator-free life. Win or lose, Cameron's days were numbered. "And whose side will you be on?"

A sheen of uncertainty clouded Cameron's eyes, and for a moment, Sarah could have sworn she detected a real emotion buried deep beneath the artificial facade. "I do not want to be terminated," Cameron said, her words empty and lacking any of the fire Sarah's own declaration would have conveyed in that moment. "But I will not fight your decision."

Sarah should have been pleased, but she hated the passive response; so like the terminator from John's youth that had willingly sacrificed its life to keep them safe. So artificial. "And if I decided to kill you here and now? Would you fight that decision?"

"I have not completed my mission."

"You'd fight me?"

"I have not completed my mission."

Sarah was becoming enraged, and she didn't even know why. "Would you kill me to complete your mission?" she demanded, unsure of what response she was hoping for until Cameron uttered the wrong one.

"No." A look of disquiet edged the corners of Cameron's calm. "You are my mission."

"What if killing me kept John safe?" She advanced, her rage building. "What if killing me stopped Skynet from being built?" Her finger poked hard into Cameron's chest as the memory of Miles Dyson destroying the chip she'd allowed to survive scorched across her mind. "What if I'm the cause of all this!" Sarah's fist met pliant flesh and was instantly stopped by the cold hard metal beneath. "What if it's all my fault!" She demanded.

Cameron captured Sarah's arms, pinning them to her sides and immobilising the older woman mere inches from her face. "You are not God, Sarah." Cameron titled her head once again and observed the cold fury building within Sarah's expressive eyes. "You are the universe's puppet just like I am." It was such a non-Cameron thing to say, that Sarah stopped struggling and actually listened to the girl. "Fate might not be written, but it has chosen us to make the decision and either give your kind a second chance." She pulled Sarah even closer. "Or let it perish in the flames."

For the briefest of moments, Sarah was reminded of Kyle before Cameron released her grip and stepped back. The impassivity that had so enraged Sarah earlier had gone, but what had taken its place, she could not tell.

"I need to get back." Cameron turned on her heels and headed toward the house. "I have a math test tomorrow," she explained.

A wry chuckle burned its way past Sarah's lips as she watched the machine, which had suddenly become an enigma, go pretend to be a girl.

The End

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