- Time Travel
The sun was warm on his face when he woke. Sarah was curled up in the chair by the window, staring out with a disquieting concentration. She focused on him, and her expression softened.
“Joe should be here in about an hour,” Sarah said. “He spoke with the owner of the house and got them to agree to a six-month rental versus their normal vacation rental situation. When he called, I spoke to him about a guard dog. He said he knows a guy who trains them for security—ex-Army Ranger—who worked with dogs in the service. He doesn’t want to involve his grandson since the LAPD put out an APB for me late last night. I’m wanted for questioning as a person of interest in the murders of seventeen police officers.”
Kyle grimaced. “Did they mention me?”
“Not at all, actually. I don’t know how much evidence survived his invasion of that police station but surely…I mean…you committed quite a few crimes, but they only seem to want me.”
“You’re the target—the bait they need to trap what they think is a psychotic killer,” Kyle said shortly and left the bed. He pulled on the sweatpants he’d discarded the night before. “Moreover, whatever information they have on me is incomplete and probably confusing. I don’t know if the video footage survived his rampage through that station, but they didn’t take any pictures of me or anything else.”
“Fingerprints?” Sarah questioned.
Kyle paused, then shook his head as he figured out what she was asking. “They disarmed me and started interviewing me. I told them too much, but I was…I felt like if I could make them allies, they could help protect you, but now I know better.”
He walked to stand at the window. “There wasn’t enough time to prepare—I didn’t have a game plan when I landed beyond finding and protecting you. We couldn’t risk the machines finding out I planned to follow the Terminator back in time. Given enough time to plan, I would’ve researched available weapons in the era, memorized the map of Los Angeles, asked John all the questions I’d avoided asking about his mother for years. We can’t stay here long-term, Sarah, so don’t get attached. Seattle was one of the first targets on Judgment Day. I’ll have to study current maps thoroughly to pick a location that won’t suffer heavy nuclear fall-out.”
“You don’t think we can prevent it.”
“I think at most we can postpone it,” Kyle said grimly. “We’ll know—because Skynet will keep sending Terminator back for you and eventually John. Maybe we can prevent it in this timeline, I certainly want to try, but I’m standing here a traveler from a wasteland future, and maybe I wouldn’t be if it were possible to prevent the birth of Skynet.” He cleared his throat. “Perhaps both Skynet and John Connor are inevitable.”
“It sounds like a nightmare,” Sarah murmured. “I don’t know how to protect him from it, but I want to. I don’t want a constant state of war for him, Kyle.” She focused on the gun. “Show me how to use this thing.”
Kyle wasn’t sure a .50 caliber sniper rifle was the best choice for a beginner, but she pressed her lips together and glared at him when he hesitated. “Yeah, okay.”
– – – –
Joe brought them a perimeter system that Kyle was actually very familiar with as they used them in the tunnels. Old technology that didn’t have networking capabilities were all that was allowed in the shelters. In a lot of ways, being in the past had decreased the Terminator’s effectiveness as it didn’t have the Internet at its disposal, nor could it contact Skynet for modified orders.
He relaxed a little bit after the system was in place. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than nothing, obviously, and he doubted the machine would look for it. It was operating in as much of an alien world as Kyle was so hopefully it wouldn’t notice the system at all and seek to circumvent it. The T-800 didn’t appear to have any sort of discretion programmed in when it was focused on a target. Kyle didn’t think it would lay low for long. Maybe the police were counting on that as well but not for the same reasons.
The cache of weapons the older man had started to build was a mixture of automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Most of it was military grade and probably illegal for a civilian to own. Thankfully, Joe hadn’t brought anything to the house that Kyle had never seen before, so nothing dented his developing cover story. He knew that Joe and the men he’d brought with him to help secure the property had made some assumptions about his past military service, but he’d been careful not to claim to be a veteran of the war that had done its worst to all of them. It had seemed deeply respectful to do such a thing.
Another vehicle was coming up the drive, Kyle shifted slightly toward the house and saw the curtains move in the upstairs bedroom window.
“That’s the last of your supplies coming in,” Joe said. “Sourced some claymores. Illegal as fuck, of course, so you’re gonna have to act really damned surprised to find it on the land if someone with a badge comes along with questions.”
Kyle shrugged. “I’m not concerned about that.”
“Didn’t think you would be,” the older man said wryly. “Let’s map out some likely paths of approach and get it set up. Think this guy is savvy enough to park on the road and come in on foot?”
“Savvy enough, yes, but he’s proven to be not concerned about stealth at all,” Kyle pointed out. “He’ll take the most direct route he can straight to the house and to his objective. He cares less about being contained or punished by the authorities than I do.”
“He certainly already proved that,” Joe agreed. “California will be after putting him on death row for the cops he killed.”
“He killed four other people before that,” Kyle said. “Plus the people who were killed in the club. There were probably others that they won’t be connected to him…I doubt he bought the weapons he used.”
“They don’t care about that now,” Joe murmured. “They don’t even care to know why he’s doing it at this point—he murdered their own, and for some, that’s going to matter more. I talked to my grandson, Mark, last night; he’s a cop in Seattle. I had to remind him four different times that the son of a bitch is still hunting for Sarah. All he could think about were the cops that were killed. He also asked me if I’d talked to her. I had to lie to the boy because I know he’d have reported it. I expect he’ll show up to check for himself in the next day or so. I did the rental agreement for this house off the books and in cash so he won’t be able to see it if he goes snooping in my bank records.”
“Lying to your family can’t be comfortable.”
“It was more uncomfortable to listen to him rant about the death of people he didn’t know while dismissing the fact that a nineteen-year-old girl he did know was being hunted by a killer,” Joe said. “It just made it more clear to me—how important it is that you both just disappear no matter if they catch this asshole or not. They want to blame her for what happened to their own people so they’ll be gunning for her one way or another for the rest of her life. Right now she’s just wanted for questioning, a week from now they’ll have convinced themselves that it was a conspiracy and that she’s involved. As soon as he gets sighted across state lines, they’ll bring in the FBI then the focus on her will only get worse.”
The driver of the truck left the vehicle with a cheerful little wave for Joe and Kyle blinked in surprise at the petite woman no older than Sarah that trotted in their direction.
“Joe.” She glomped on the older with a man fierce hug as soon as she could. “Dad said you needed these claymores ASAP, so I offered to deliver them.”
Joe patted her back. “Good, good. Get with Ken over there about placement and leave the detonators on the porch. We’re thinking to the line the driveway up here.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Just the driveway?”
“Got reason to believe the threat wouldn’t bother with a stealth approach,” Joe explained. “Intelligence is sound.”
“Right.” She glanced toward Kyle, then back at Joe.
“Best you not know his name,” Joe said. “Just handle your business, Jamie, and go on back to your daddy.”
The girl nodded and trotted off.
Joe turned to him. “Her parents run a commune on the other side of the island. Most everyone thinks they’re some kind of hippy-free sex thing, but the place is full of weapons, nuclear fall-out shelters, and the like. I honestly kind of thought they were extreme, but maybe the next time they offer to build me a cabin over there, I’ll take them up on it.”
“Might be a good idea as long as they don’t start throwing religion on top of it,” Kyle said. “Or draw too much attention from the police.”
“True, wouldn’t want to get invaded by the FBI.”
– – – –
The ringing of the house phone never ceased to make him nearly jump out of his skin. Sarah picked up the receiver without speaking and listened intently for almost thirty seconds before she hung it up and turned to him. “Joe’s grandson showed up with a couple of detectives from LA. They must have flown in. How would that impact the Terminator’s ability to track them?”
“I don’t know,” Kyle said. “It depends on whether or not it was able to get access to information at the airport. The problem is he’d have probably been able to listen to their conversations fairly easily if he were close enough.”
“Surely they would’ve noticed him,” Sarah said. “The asshole stands out plus…didn’t you notice how he smelled in the police station? He smelled like rot.”
“His skin will regenerate but if it’s damaged—it’ll die and fall off first.”
She made a disgusted face and came back to the table and carefully started to load the Desert Eagle Joe had given her personally. Kyle hadn’t asked about the weapon at the time or the choice—it was a lot of gun for anyone and not the decision he would’ve made for her.
“This belonged to my dad,” Sarah said. “My mom gave it to Joe after…well…after he was gone. She gave all of dad’s guns to Joe because she didn’t want any weapons in the house.”
“Did he shoot himself?” Kyle asked then grimaced as he realized what a callous question that was to ask to anyone. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s fine. He took pills. The police were surprised by that since it’s not the norm for men to take pills as a method of suicide, but my dad would’ve never wanted to leave such a…it’s crazy, but he’d have never made a mess like that in our home. He was a conscientious man and liked things to be neat.” She put the weapon down on the table. “If the cops find me, I don’t want you to fight them and get killed in the process.”
“Sarah.” He focused on her. “They’re no match for him as they’ve already proven. They’ll get you killed.”
“They don’t have a legitimate reason to hold me, and I’ll get a lawyer. In fact, I think I should probably get a lawyer anyways because I don’t like the way this situation is heading and I don’t want to have to worry about being hunted from several different directions. How I went from victim to person of interest in just a couple of days is pretty fucking insulting.” She pursed her lips. “I guess I need to contact my mother’s attorney regarding the estate. We’ll need the money.”
“That money will lead them straight to us,” Kyle said. “You might have to walk away from it, Sarah.”
“No.” She frowned. “That’s not an option—that money means security for John, and that means we’re getting it.” She waved a hand and left the table. “The LAPD is going to have to back off, and that means a lawyer. We’ll start with my mom’s and see what he says.”
“I’m not sure financial security in the future is worth your physical safety now.”
“Money makes this world work, Kyle,” Sarah said patiently. “Maybe you don’t understand that because of how and when you grew up but the more money we have at our disposal, the fewer crimes we’ll have to commit which is certainly in our favor. Shelter, equipment, ordnance, and more weapons do equal physical safety, and the best way to procure all of that is to have money. Legitimate money. If I have the estate liquidized—mom’s house in Santa Barbara, the cabin in Big Bear…plus what she inherited from her own parents. Then there is her life insurance which she insisted on getting after my dad died…it’s probably all total half a million dollars or more depending on the sale of the properties. I have no idea what my mom’s house is worth. She inherited it from an aunt before I was even born.”
He had no concept of money, but that seemed like a lot. “John never really spoke about your financial situation in the past.”
“He wouldn’t have,” Sarah said. “Unless there was no money and we struggled to eat. Hiding out in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language means that I definitely gathered up all the financial resources I could before I left LA in the first timeline. I wish…I wish he’d told you how my mother was killed.”
“Maybe he didn’t know,” Kyle said. “It would’ve tempted him to give me more information than maybe I needed. He certainly couldn’t afford to do much to alter what would happen when I came back for you.”
She nodded and offered him a small smile that looked sad. “Right.”
“I’m sorry you can’t…memorialize her properly.”
“My father was cremated—his ashes are at the Santa Barbara house. I can appoint an executor for the will to stand in my place in Los Angeles if I can’t return there. It makes me nervous, though, considering how much money is potentially involved. Also, they might freeze my assets to get me to come back to California.” She pursed her lips. “I hate this, you know. I hate all of it.”
“I know,” Kyle said quietly. “I wish I could solve all of these problems for you. I feel….” Powerless, he thought, but he was positive that he shouldn’t say it.
Her hand settled unexpectedly on his, and he focused on her. Her eyes were dark and serious. “That’s not what I want for us. I need to be your partner. I know I’m not what you need when it comes to…protecting us, but I want to be. We’re a team, Kyle, so I’m going to figure all of this stuff out.” She waved a hand over the table and the weapons he’d cleaned and loaded. “I have a lot to learn.”
“So do I,” Kyle said. “It’s like being…on a different planet, Sarah, and I can’t say I’m going to always handle it well…Kate said most of us have PTSD because we live on the edge of being destroyed. I’ve been on that edge my whole life.”
“Did they plan to have children?” Sarah asked. “Kate and John?”
“I don’t know—he wouldn’t have discussed that kind of thing with me or anyone else serving under him. He guarded his privacy closely, which was for the best. The machines didn’t need to have more information on him than they already had, and any single person with intimate knowledge of John Connor could be captured and used against him.” Kyle stood from the table and walked to the fridge. He pulled a couple of bottles of water and brought them to the table.
“Grab my vitamins, will you?” Sarah asked as she accepted the bottle.
He pulled out the large bottle of vitamins she’d bought at Wal-Mart. He hadn’t questioned the purchase of pre-natal vitamins because if things were going as they had before she was certainly already pregnant even if they couldn’t confirm it. Though she’d also bought a pregnancy test. He hadn’t asked about that either.
“We need to check the news to see if they’ve released a picture of you. I’m not certain I should risk going out in public at the moment, but we need some more stuff from the store.”
“I’m not leaving you alone, again,” Kyle said flatly. “Make a list, and we’ll ask Joe if he can go for you.”
She opened her mouth then closed it then frowned at him. The phone rang, and he walked over to the wall to pick it up. He’d watched her enough to figure out how it operated, so he picked up the receiver.
“Let me speak to Sarah Connor.”
“Look, asshole, you involved Grandpa Joe in a very dangerous situation, and I know he’s helping harbor that girl. I found this number on his desk—it’s the only new one. It won’t take me long to find the address attached to it.”
“Joe Wilbanks? I met him at the VA in Seattle. He helped me find a place to live.” Kyle tucked the receiver against his shoulder and glanced toward Sarah, who was staring at him in alarm. “Since he’s physically disabled, I’ve been helping him out around his place. If you asked him, instead of spying on him, I’m sure he would confirm that.”
“You sound younger than most of his other friends.”
“Yes, well, being a veteran of war has no age at all. There are children currently fighting for their lives in parts of this world,” Kyle said evenly. “My friendship with your uncle really isn’t any of your business, so I’m not sure why you’re calling me and asking about the woman on the news.”
“My grandfather served with her dad in Vietnam. He tried to set me up with her. Glad I dodged that bullet, she’s obviously a problem.”
Kyle had rarely instantly disliked someone before. “For being stalked by some psycho?”
“She must have done something to set him off.”
“You should probably call your grandfather and talk to him before I do because I will be telling him that you rifled through his desk and invaded his privacy.”
A dull tone was his answer. Realizing he’d been hung up on, Kyle replaced the receiver and focused on Sarah. “Joe’s grandson.”
“I figured.” She ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. “He’s probably going to show up here or send those cops from LA here. Without a warrant, you’re not required to let them in so they can search for me, but they might ask the FBI to raid the house based on the assumption that I’m actually involved with the whole mess instead of just a victim. Let’s check the news to see if there is a picture or video of you circulating.”
– – – –
Sitting on a couch watching television was surreal. She was curled against him, drowsing as the late news played. Her picture and the story of the stalker cop-killer had dominated all of the shows they’d watched. He wasn’t even mentioned in passing, and he didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried. Kyle was pretty confident that all of the cops he’d personally interacted with had died during the attack. He felt a bit like an idiot for how honest he’d been when he’d been interrogated.
“That criminal psychologist—he wasn’t there when the Terminator invaded the station. I don’t know if he took a copy of the interview with him, but he was elated by the mental illness he assumed you had. He talked about me you were having a paranoid delusion. Whoever is looking for me now, they’ve talked to him. They’ve heard your story.” Her fingers curled into his T-shirt. “If he’s shared that story with the government…and based on whatever evidence they found at that station…”
“What are you saying?”
“That maybe they aren’t officially searching for you because they intend to make you disappear down a dark hole so they can use whatever knowledge you’ve brought with you.” Sarah moved closer still and took a deep breath. “And it’s enough to search for me because they know we’re together.”
It had crossed his mind once or twice so he couldn’t dismiss the idea outright. “Then the government will want you and John as well. I should’ve never…”
“You just wanted their help,” Sarah interjected. “You trusted them because they’re not machines and in your world that was enough.”
It was enough, Kyle thought. “Machines are the enemy—everything else fell away. Ambition, greed, friendship, lust…all of it was replaced with the need to survive. We only had each other to depend on, and that’s why the machines created the infiltrators. They had to pretend to be like us to get deep into our enclaves. Fortunately, they’re not great at mimicking the human condition beyond the superficial.”
The phone started to ring, and they both started. Joe had called later in the afternoon to apologize and complain about his grandson, but that had been hours ago. Kyle reached over and picked it up. “Hello.”
“The two cops from LA are staying in a hotel. Heard there’s a fed on the way. Gave Mark another talking to about being in my business,” Joe said gruffly. “Stay on guard, they’ve probably brought the asshole right to our doorstep.”
“You should probably go spend the night elsewhere,” Kyle said.
“I’m not at home. I think they probably have my line tapped, the little assholes.” Joe huffed. “It won’t take long for them to figure out I’ve rented a second house if they get my phone records. The fed will make that really easy, I imagine.”
“We don’t want to cause you legal problems.”
“I’ve got a lawyer friend or two,” Joe said. “Thanks to draft, I served with men in a variety of careers. Speaking of friends, my friend came through with the dog. I’m supposed to meet him in Seattle tomorrow afternoon.”
“Right, stay safe.” He replaced the receiver after Joe hung up and sat back.
“The cops from California are staying here, and they’ve got something called a fed joining them?”
Sarah snorted. “A fed—that means they have an FBI agent joining them. A government cop with broader reach and jurisdiction. They probably can’t get the local cops to work with them.”
“Joe’s a long time resident and has a few friends who are county cops. He told me when we were setting up the perimeter.” Kyle ran his hand down her back as she turned to cuddle against him. “He’s not staying at home.”
“I don’t want him to get hurt because of me.”
“It won’t be because of you,” Kyle murmured and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “You can’t take it on, Sarah. Whatever the Terminator does—ultimately it’s not about you but the survival of our species.”
“If we can take it out—what do we do with it? We can’t leave it around for the government to find and…figure out.”
Kyle considered that. “We definitely need to destroy the CPU. The actual body will have to be melted down, which will require a lot of heat. I’ve never really worried about it before. It has a fuel cell that could be used to help destroy it. Maybe we’ll have to level with Joe about what’s really going on. Having the remains of the Terminator would help prove my story.”
– – – –