DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Big thanks to inspectorboxer for the support, enthusiasm, and beta on this. This was supposed to be my epic proportions fic, and thus this is just the first part of a very long story. Iím trying to do more of an action-adventure story, which is a stretch for me. ralst demanded the fic supplied the prompt, so, my queen, this is for you.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By zennie


Part 5

Sarah didn't know how long she sat, in darkness, in silence, before she heard Cameron approach. The dull, echoing thud seemed to continue for an intolerably long time before a silhouette appeared at the top of the silo. "Sarah….?"

That was the only word the terminator got out before Sarah snapped off three more rounds, her arms braced against a metal strut to improve her aim. At least two rounds struck the terminator, the sound of metal on metal muffled by the artificial skin, and Cameron retreated. Sarah could imagine Cameron standing at the top of the stairs, staring at her wounds with a look of surprise, and the image gave Sarah a sense of satisfaction, until it changed and a red light gleamed in the depths of that doe-eyed hazel. Sarah shuddered, her anger warring with her fear. Anger, at herself, for ever trusting a machine, and fear at where that kindness had led her. She had no idea what Cameron had planned for her, but her task had just gotten exponentially harder: Sarah now had to incapacitate a terminator with only a handgun and her wits before she could even think about trying to free herself from the silo.

Sarah's thoughts immediately turned to John. Was this a ploy, had Cameron been working with Skynet all along, had she trapped Sarah in order to leave John exposed, vulnerable? The thought that he might already be dead slammed into her gut and her eyes watered as she contemplated her worst fear. But why now? Why this way? Cameron had been with them for months; she could have betrayed them, killed John, numerous times in the intervening time. Unless it was all part of a plan by Skynet that Sarah couldn't fathom, some way to use her against John, manipulate him in some way.

That would explain why Cameron seemed so determined to take care of her; Sarah had to be alive for the plan to work. Or else… her thoughts took a scary turn as she considered the possibility that Cameron wasn't acting rationally. Cameron had said she was evolving, that John had fiddled with her programming. Maybe she had taken something John had said, like when he had teasingly told Cameron to 'take care of the old lady' when they left the house, too literally and had locked Sarah in as a way of following his orders. That might explain the…

Sarah's head snapped up in sudden horror. Cameron was a machine… she couldn't… but there was the touch on the lips, the way Cameron had held her, the care and hyperawareness of her moods. But the very idea was crazy; Cameron might be evolving, but it would take a major glitch in her programming to make her think she was in love with Sarah. It was impossible, Sarah thought, even as a small sliver of disappointment made itself known. I didn't, I couldn't have… led her on? Sarah racked her brain for anything she might have done to make Cameron fall in… the thought was absurd and Sarah couldn't finish it. She gave a small but definite shake of her head. There was no way she was locked down in an abandoned missile silo because she had inadvertently caused an evolving robot to go mad with love.

Dropping her head, she scrubbed at her face ruthlessly, feeling the calluses on her palm scrape over her skin. The why wasn't important, she decided. She had to figure a way out of there and fast before John, and she refused to consider the possibility that he could be dead, tried to enact a rescue. After all, if Cameron had her wires crossed, who knew how she would react if her son showed up.

Climbing up the ladder, Sarah peered over the edge of the main platform, seeing no sign of Cameron down the long stretch of corridor. What she did see was the metal stained with red, Cameron's blood slowly drying and clotting, and Sarah's lips split into a feral grin. Evil or insane, it didn't matter. Sarah was going to take her apart or die trying. Scrambling over the top of the platform, the quick movement earning her a protest from her aching leg, Sarah searched the changing room just outside the silo. She found a sling tool bag and she stuffed anything she could find in, even the two oxygen tanks. Peeking around the corner and not seeing Cameron, Sarah sprinted back across the platform and down the ladder, wincing as the sound of her boots rattled the metal plating.

Once she was down several flights, Sarah stopped and took inventory of her supplies; she had a flashlight, whatever tools that were lying around the room, and two oxygen tanks. Eyeing the faded stencil that still clearly marked the tanks as FLAMMABLE, she wondered if she could use them to ignite her adversary. But then, flames and explosions weren't enough to stop or even slow a terminator for long, and she had no desire to reveal the gleaming metal skeleton that resided beneath Cameron's flesh.

Sarah spent a few hours searching around the silo for anything to augment her cache of possible weapons, an ear cocked for any sound from overhead. Even in the chill of the silo, Sarah felt sweat bead on her forehead and drip down into her eyes as she restlessly circled the bottom of the pit, her very own 9th circle of hell as she labeled it. A restless energy drove her, despite her fatigue and aching body, and she accepted the pains as punishment for trusting a machine in the first place. The depths of the betrayal still rankled her; she had never trusted the other terminator-protector, never fully, but all it took was a pretty face and hazel eyes to make her drop her guard.

A sound alerted her that Cameron was returning, and she pulled her gun and braced herself into a corner, her body once again protesting the rough treatment. She had no idea what the terminator had been doing in the interim, but she wondered if the real battle was about to start. But Cameron didn't appear at the top of the silo; her footsteps came to the door, paused, then retreated. Silence filled the silo once more.

Intrigued in spite of herself and wary of a trap, Sarah once again forced herself up the ladder; at the top, she spied what the terminator had left: a bottle of water and a pre-packaged hiking meal. The thirst at the back of her throat suddenly raged, and Sarah was halfway up over the edge of the platform and reaching for the water when she caught sight of Cameron standing in the door of the control room, watching her. No emotion seemed to light or animate those blank hazel eyes. Seeing Sarah hesitate, Cameron stepped back and out of her line of sight, but the move made Sarah more suspicious rather than less. There had to be a reason Cameron wanted her to take the supplies; maybe they were drugged, poisoned, since it was obvious that Cameron's goal was to capture her, not kill her. After all, if Cameron wanted Sarah dead, all she had to do was climb down the silo and kill her.

Sarah forcibly pulled back her hand, leaving the water sitting.

And so it began: at regular intervals, Cameron would walk down the corridor and leave food and water outside the open door to the silo while Sarah watched and waited for the moment the terminator's routine varied, signaling an end to the pretense and the beginning of the battle.

But it never came; for almost a day, Cameron, like clockwork, every four hours, deposited more supplies at the door, adding to the growing pile. The gnawing thirst was painful by now, Sarah's throat raw when she swallowed, but she didn't allow herself to contemplate the water sitting a hundred feet above her head. But Cameron's routine gave her an idea, and she spent the next interval planning her attack.

By the time she heard Cameron's boots in the corridor, Sarah was ready. The climb up to level three had exhausted her, and her head felt feverish as she wiped the back of her hand across her forehead. This close, her hands trembled at the thought of the water just a few feet away. She hefted the oxygen tank and peered up into the mirror she had ripped off the wall of the changing room and positioned so she could see Cameron's approach. The terminator was near the end of the corridor, already stooping to put the items in her hands on the floor, when Sarah swung into action, leaping up and over the edge of the platform and rushing into the deceptively slight frame of the terminator. They went down in a heap, Cameron's hazel eyes puzzled as Sarah swung her improvised weapon off her back. She pressed the oxygen tank squarely against the terminator's forehead, swinging a knife to puncture the tank while she threw herself back and away.

The resounding thud of the tank slamming Cameron's head into metal rang in Sarah's ears as she lay, panting. For a second, nothing moved and Sarah thought maybe she had won, or at least incapacitated the terminator, until she saw, out of the corner of her eye, Cameron's fingers curl, then her arms lift, as she sat up. There was a mark and a cut on her forehead bled freely, but other than that, she was no the worse for wear. She studied Sarah curiously as she rose to her feet, making no moves that could be construed as threatening. It was unfair, Sarah thought as she trained her gun on Cameron, casting her eyes back toward the safety of the silo and measuring the distance.

A movement from Cameron snapped her focus back to the terminator, but she had just moved to press her hand to her forehead and stem the tide of blood that was dripping through her eyebrow and down her cheek. A flash of sympathy rushed through Sarah as she realized that it looked like Cameron was crying tears of blood, but she ruthlessly squashed the emotion. "Why are you doing this? Let me go!"

Cameron frowned in seemingly genuine sadness. "I can't. Sarah, I…"

"Then kill me," Sarah demanded, her finger tightening on the trigger. Cameron looked stricken at the thought and she mutely shook her head in denial. Sarah's teeth clenched in sudden anger, and she screamed, "Terminate me, fucker! What the hell are you waiting for?"

"Sarah…" Cameron began, but the ear-piercing explosions of Sarah's gun firing at close range cut her off and flung her down to the floor like a rag doll. Sarah didn't wait; she clambered her way across the platform and down the ladder in an instant.

Sarah had no idea how long she had been sitting in the eerie half-light of the silos emergency lights. These periods of lethargy were increasing, she realized. It wasn't surprising; her sleep had consisted of infrequent cat-naps and her last meal had been the salad that Cameron had made for her. The food Cameron had left, even the military rations in air-tight packages, went untouched; likewise the bottles of water. Sarah swallowed, her parched throat raspy and raw, but she refused to touch anything the terminator supplied.

But she didn't fool herself. The nausea cramping her stomach and the weakness in her limbs was a precursor to full-blown dehydration, and if she didn't do something drastic, and soon, Cameron would only have to retrieve her unconscious body from the bottom of the silo in order to capture her. Sarah wondered if that had been the terminator's strategy all along, to wait Sarah out.

If it was, it was working, Sarah thought with bitterness. It had been almost three days now, and Sarah's attempts to overcome the terminator had gotten nowhere. Her limited supplies couldn't be used to build a weapon even close to taking out Cameron. The exhaustion was clouding her thoughts, auditory hallucinations were beginning to breed in the darkness. Sometimes she could hear Cameron climbing down the ladder for her; other times, she heard John calling for her. He hadn't come to rescue her, though, and it was over six days since they had been locked in. In her darkest moments, she admitted that the only thing that could have kept him from coming to find her was death, and the thought caused a wave of despair to wash over her.

She massaged her forehead where it rested in her hand, trying to coax a plan out of her confused and increasingly incoherent thoughts. It was tempting to just give up, let sleep claim her, and her eyes drooped at the thought.

The gun held loosely in her hand dipped, striking the platform with a resounding clink. Her eyes sprang open to focus first on the gun and then on the metal beneath her boots. A plan began to form in her mind, and she pulled herself up in a renewed sense of purpose. Ignoring the trembling sluggishness in her limbs, she climbed the ladder one last time.

It took her nearly two hours to wire the door, putting her boobytrap into place, but she finished just in time. Cameron, on her usual rounds, began to walk down the corridor as Sarah gave her pocket one last pat to make sure she had the tools she needed and then tightened her grip on the edge of the platform. Cameron had to have noticed that the door to the silo was now closed and had to be analyzing the possible reasons in her head. She must have missed one, because the slight zip on the other side of the door and the cascade of sparks over Sarah's head told her her plan had worked.

She had 120 seconds, Sarah thought, as she opened the door and knelt beside the motionless body of the electrocuted terminator. Sarah turned Cameron's head to the side, ignoring a subtle twisting in her gut as she noted the red healing scar across Cameron's forehead. With trembling hands, whether from exhaustion or adrenaline Sarah wasn't sure, she began her makeshift surgery, almost tearing a hole in Cameron's flesh as she hurried to expose the smooth metal cover above Cameron's chip.

She bit back a curse as her fingers fumbled with the knife, dropping it as she shifted it to pry the cover off. Too slow, she thought, too slow, as she exposed Cameron's chip. The pliers caught as she tried to pull them free, and she heard a ripping in her pocket as she yanked them.

A blue light flashed in Cameron's eyes just as Sarah got the pliers free, and she gripped the edge of the chip, trying to twist and pull at the same time. But a hand stronger than steel grabbed her wrist as Cameron's head turned, her hazel eyes showing an odd disappointment lurking in their depths as she removed the pliers from Sarah's suddenly nerveless fingers. Cameron flung her away with negligible ease and Sarah skidded several feet before coming to rest, seeing Cameron rise to her feet to block the entrance to the silo.

Sarah pulled her gun and aimed it, but it was no use. The terminator had won and there was nothing she could do about it.

"Whatever your plan is…" Sarah snarled as Cameron knelt to retrieve the missing cover, "you can do it without me." She saw Cameron's eyes widen as Sarah nestled the barrel of the gun against her own temple, heard her boots scramble on the metal plating as Cameron tried to gain traction and speed. For once, Sarah was ahead of the game, she thought with satisfaction as her finger increased the pressure on the trigger. A loud bang and a sudden weight, like a giant hand crushing her, smashed Sarah into darkness.

Part 6

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