DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you haven't read Time Loop yet, please do so before reading this one. It sets up the premise of this ongoing AU, other Time Loop stories can be read in any order. Betaed by 1shinyboat. Please leave a comment, even if it's just one word. Comments tell authors their stories are being read and enjoyed.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To keyote_one[at]yahoo.com

Time Loop: Paradox
By wkgreen


Sarah looks down on the brightly lit building, shining in the darkness of the moonless night. "We sure this is the building? That Skynet is just about to go live?" she asks Cameron nervously, unable to believe they are so close, that they actually have a possibility of stopping Skynet.

Cameron looks at Sarah and answers, "There is a 90% probability that we are here at the right time." Turning her head back to the building she warns in her soft, monotone, "We are likely to endanger humans. Not all of them will be able to get out in time."

Sarah nods minutely as she grimaces, her tired eyes looking at the research lab. "I know, but we'll be saving millions if not billions of lives." She sighs as she leans her head back against the Jeep's headrest. "If they knew what was going to happen, they would understand," she justifies. The mantra she has been repeating to herself ever since the possibility of stopping Skynet became reachable.

Cameron nods quietly, letting Sarah have her justification, not knowing if it is really true, that the ones inside would choose that if they were given the choice. "We need to get moving. Our window of opportunity is going to close soon."

"Right," Sarah sighs as she gets out of the Jeep. "Let's get this over with."

As Cameron gets the bags of explosives, Sarah checks her Glock. "We get in by the service entrance." Sarah reviews the plan with Cameron, "We go down to the basement, where the computer labs are, pull a fire alarm and during the confusion, place the explosives and get out, and then all we have to do is watch Skynet die." She knows she should sound happy about the possibility of an end to Skynet, but all she sounds is tired. "They don't know what they have, how successful they're going to be. The military is only peripherally involved, waiting for news of a breakthrough. Security should still be low."

Cameron looks at Sarah with concern and doesn't mention the part she knows Sarah is avoiding, that they are going to have to make sure the creator of Skynet dies.

Moving confidently in the dark of night, Cameron leads the older woman to the building, using her enhanced vision to find a safe path down the hill overlooking their target. As the service entrance becomes visible, Cameron points out the camera watching the door.

Sarah nods as the cyborg pulls out her Glock, takes careful aim and destroys the camera with a well placed round. They are going in dirty; she doesn't care if they get caught, as long as they succeed. She has carefully kept John in the dark about this mission. Right now he is spending the night at Kate's, supposedly studying, but she lays odds they are making out more than studying.

Quickly, they move to the door, and without pause, Cameron kicks it in, steps through spotting the security camera and shoots it out of commission. The pair move in tandem, walking through the halls like they belong and go straight for the stairwell that provides basement access. Entering the stairwell, they jog down quickly, going to the bottom floor.

Cameron steps through the door and finds a security guard walking his rounds. She cold cocks him idly as she strides past. She continues walking until she is standing beside the Server lab doors and takes position behind it so that she can catch the door and hold it open and whistles. Sarah moves over to a fire alarm and once she hears Cameron's whistle, she sets off the alarm and hides.

The klaxons blare and suddenly there are shouts of alarm as workers in the server labs come rushing out the door. Cameron catches the door and holds it open for the panicking workers as they rush for the fire escape. They don't even look to see why the door was staying open, assuming it was a security guard or someone like that. As workers pass her, Cameron scans them, looking for the creator. All the workers run past, and Cameron's scans do not reveal the creator, she gives off another loud whistle.

Sarah moves up to Cameron and jams the door open as Cameron covers her, "He was not among the workers leaving the lab," Cameron informs Sarah who nods.

They enter the server lab, Sarah stepping in behind Cameron, covering the right side of the room as Cameron covers the left. Finding no one in the room, Sarah walks over to Cameron and gets the packs of C4 and detonators she'll need to complete her part of the mission. "Go, I'll make sure the labs are covered. Get the structural supports."

Cameron nods and disappears out the door; assured that Sarah isn't under immediate danger as both of them hurriedly place their explosives. Sarah moves deeper into the labs and encounters the creator of the Skynet AI, Andy Goode. He is clasping a briefcase to his chest as he is heading for the fire escape. This is the man who can recreate the programming if he survives, looking at her with wide, frightened eyes. In her heart, she was hoping that Cameron would be the one to find him, but it is better if she does this. Any killing should be done by her hand, the one responsible for the plan.

"Why didn't you leave it alone!" Sarah hisses at Andy, "Why did you have to recreate the Turk after the fire."

"It is my life's work, Sarah." Andy looks nervously at Sarah as she points her Glock at him, looking around for help, shocked that someone he was attracted to is holding a gun on him.

"If you could go back in time and kill the scientists who created the atomic bomb, would you?" Sarah asks the apparent non sequitur.

Shaking his head in denial, Andy desperately pleads, "I'm not making a weapon, Sarah. I'm trying to help people."

"You don't understand the consequences of what you're letting loose on the human race," Sarah hisses, glaring at the man as her hand trembles ever so slightly. She isn't a killer; she has always avoided killing people whenever possible. And he isn't a bad person; just one who fools himself about what he is creating. If she had time, she would convince him that he shouldn't create Skynet. If she could, she would let him live. But she doesn't and she can't let him leave here alive.

"There are safeguards…it won't be able to act against us…we'll have full control," the young man pleads, defending what he is building.

Sarah pulls the trigger and his head snaps back. Time seems to stand still and then his body falls backwards as Sarah lowers her pistol. Tears slide down her own cheeks as she whispers, "And that belief is what would doom us all."

Cameron rushes around the corner and finds Sarah standing over the dead body of the genius creator of Skynet; she quickly approaches Sarah and gently cups Sarah's cheek, using her thumb to wipe away a tear, "I am sorry."

Sarah takes a steadying breath as she looks into Cameron's eyes, knowing that Cameron is apologizing for not being the one to find the young man first, for not being the one to pull the trigger and for the fact that he couldn't be allowed to live. "It had to be done," she sighs tiredly as she cups the young cyborg's cheek in return.

"We must leave," Cameron states in her soft monotone, "the explosives are in place. The police and fire department will be arriving soon."

Sarah nods, takes the last couple of bombs she has, places one on top of the young genius and scatters the rest. She knows that she doesn't need to place them exactly, they have used way more than they need to, to make sure the entire building collapses.

Sarah pulls out the remote control and flips the first switch, starting the countdown, "We got five minutes, let's go." Sarah takes one last look at Andy's body and then follows Cameron out of the server lab.

By now Sarah knows most of the employees will be out of the building and the fire department will be arriving soon. The security team is probably getting suspicious, since they wouldn't have found any hint of a fire while getting people out. Quickly making their way out the way they came in, they sprint into the darkness, finding shelter among some trees.

Sarah pulls the remote control out and looks at the countdown timer as her thumb hovers over the button that can shut the timers down. She looks up at Cameron, "What happens to us if this works?" Sarah finally asks what the future holds for them, will they exist past this point, what happens to the timeline.

Cameron tilts her head as she considers Sarah's question, "I do not know. There are several theories." Cameron pauses as she organizes her explanation, "Either nothing happens and we just delayed the Apocalypse, we create a timeline where no Skynet is created but a time machine is created and machines are sent back to kill you and John for other reasons." Cameron pauses as she looks into Sarah's eyes, her soft monotone continuing, "Or we manage to create a true paradox and time implodes on itself and resets back to before the paradox. Or everything just ends." Cameron tilts her head, "Those are the most common possibilities that theory gives us."

Sarah looked down at the detonator in her hand, biting her lip as she thinks, does she have the right to decide for the entire world. If she creates a true paradox and stops Skynet, she will change everything. And isn't that another form of an apocalypse? There is a chance she will end her developing relationship with Cameron. She doesn't know where it will go, or whether she should even continue it. But it makes her feel good when she is with Cameron.

Sarah looks at Cameron speculatively and then shakes her head, this is her decision. She can't push it off on Cameron. Cameron can't understand all the ramifications. Yes, Cameron has developed emotions, she has watched it happen, but her Tin Miss still has too many gaps in her development, she is still a terminator, mission focused.

Sarah sighs, she has to stop the machines; they cause untold suffering and destruction. IF she creates a true paradox, which sounds very unlikely, then no one suffers. Tears form in Sarah's eyes as the only choice she can accept is destroying Skynet.

Cameron tilts her head as she gauges the sound of the approaching sirens, "The police and Fire departments will arrive in 1 minute."

Sarah nods as she reaches out and clasps her hand around Cameron's neck, pulling the young girl to her, "If time does end, I want one more kiss," she says breathlessly as she molds her body against Cameron's. She feels her Tin Miss's arms wrap around her protectively, pulling them tight together as she stares into soft, doe like brown eyes. Leaning forward she kisses Cameron's lips softly, letting the intensity grow as Cameron returns the kiss, offering Sarah comfort and sanctuary. In the middle of the kiss, the timer reaches zero…

Sarah snaps awake to the alarm clock, reaching out blindly to turn off the incessant noise. She sighs as she contemplates another day of school and work, reaching behind herself and finding nothing but cool sheets. She rolls over and stares at the ceiling, wondering when she is going to meet her special someone, the love of her life. Getting out of bed, she starts her day, a day looking to be like every other day in her life.

Sarah parks her moped outside of Big Jeff's, the burger restaurant she works at. Walking quickly towards the entrance, she pauses to say hi to the big statue outside the door, once inside she waves off her friend, acknowledging she is late. Class was difficult today and she had to stay late to ask her instructor for a tutoring session and now she has to work in this place. Hopefully, work will be slow.

And it doesn't get any better; she is quickly swamped with customers, she can't walk out without some one requesting either more coffee or they are ready to order. Then one of her orders gets screwed up and while she is trying to figure out what happened, she spills a gentleman's drink into his lap. Then a little boy dumps ice cream into her apron as she is helping the gentleman. Sighing, her young face is tense as she deals with the gentleman and she throws a not very intimidating glare at the boy.

Later, she breathes out exhaustedly as she walks to the break room, wishing for the day when she will have her degree, can get a real job and change her life for the better. Suddenly one of her coworkers hurries her to the back room, wanting her to see a news broadcast for some strange reason, and as she sits there watching the news report; she hears that Sarah Connor has been brutally gunned down in her home earlier today. A chill passes down Sarah's spine as she feels that her life is about to change, drastically.

The End

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