HEAVY METALPremise: This happens at any given time after my other fic "Monster" in a Shounen alternate universe. For more information on that, Google. It was written mainly for a prompt of anything Jameron. Then someone asked what would Shounen-style Manga-writing do with Jameron, so here is my take on it.
In the middle of the night, two figures stand atop a small hill that overlooks a hulking fortress. Walls about three meters thick of reinforced concrete constitute the cage from where they need to break out a single man.
"Are you certain this is where they hold him Raylan?"
One of the figures, a female, asks the male beside her.
"Have I ever failed you guys?" The male replies with a confident smile. His most distinctive features, a southern U.S. accent and a head covered by a Stetson open road. To this day, the female still wonders why someone would wear a cowboy hat in the middle of the apocalypse.
"Very well." With those words, she starts walking in the direction of the fortress' main entrance.
"Give them hell Cammi!"
At the male's words, the female stops and turns with a dangerous look in her eyes.
Raylan raises his hands defensively. "Sorry ma'am, Cameron." With a smile and a slight tip of his hat, he walks down the hill in the opposite direction.
According to her latest count, one hundred soldiers guard the front entrance to the place. They know that anybody who comes will know it is the only way to get in. The damned structure has no weak point whatsoever, the handy work of machine design.
They are all human, and it was taught to her that human life is precious. Greys all of them. Is a grey life comparable in value to a regular one? There is no time for philosophy, what has to be done shall be done. Cameron readies the combat subroutines that allow her to fight masses of fleshy targets. The main routine received its designation by the man she is here to rescue. Rambo he calls it, the meaning still eludes her, but since it was something given by him, she treasures it.
Cameron is fast, faster than any of these men has ever seen. When you punch a skull while sprinting at fifty miles per hour it simply turns into red mist and detritus. Such a sight in the midst of their ranks quickly prompts panic in the soldiers closer to their now headless companion, and they open fire. Careless, jumpy humans forgetting their superior numbers have a tremendous disadvantage when chaos ensues. Friendly fire.
And chaos she wreaks. Fifty feet far from the first casualty she personally caused, another soldier finds himself neatly cut in half by a roundhouse kick that drives a shin through his torso as if it were butter. Comrades around him fall to the ground, cowering in fear at the rain of guts that falls on them. The next target is the least fortunate of them. The grey struggles uselessly in Cameron's vice grip, pinned to the ground, while in the midst of a bestial growl she starts ripping his spine out.
In a matter of seconds, the air has become a hail of bullets and plasma, blood and agonized screams. After a couple of minutes, the soldiers who are not dead are running away for their lives, leaving the access free for the wrathful machine.
Gore covers Cameron from toe to head as she stands in front of the doors. There is a slight shimmer across her mimetic poly-alloy covering, and in an instant all the blood and flesh falls to the ground, she looks perfect again. Purple leather jacket, black denim jeans, combat boots, everything looks as if just pulled out of the store. Looking her best has always been one of her idiosyncrasies.
The heavy doors give in surprisingly easy, and not just due to her strength but because they were unlocked. This certainly implies an ambush awaits her inside.
Several beams of light suddenly pierce the thick darkness of the hall. Cameron sees there is a walkway at the level of a second floor, littered with Terminator endoskeletons that flare their red optics menacingly at her. By all appearances it seems the machine's strategy this time is to engage her in melee combat, as just a small number of their total jumps down to greet her, and they are unarmed.
The next combat subroutine is accordingly picked. This one is designated: Neo.
Cameron lets out a fake breath in pretense relaxation, takes a fighting stance and the increasingly sharpening whirr of servos can be clearly heard as she readies her T-X chassis for battle.
A clumsy hand attempts to grab her, Skynet Terminators were not designed to be proficient at melee; they mostly rely on brute force. She swiftly diverts the direction of the endoskeleton's arm with her wrist, her other arm flies instantly to its neck, the distinct sound of pneumatic pistons in quick release accompany her fist.
Severed from the rest of the unceremoniously falling endoskeleton's torso, a metal skull flies through the air, shining brightly as the reflector lights hit it. The endoskeleton's companions stall their approach for just a second, and then decide to gang up on the female Terminator. They are slow and inaccurate, sloppy. Of course, that is in comparison with her lithe movements, aided by real melee fighting routines and a superior chassis.
Consistency is one trait the machines really need to get rid of, it makes them too predictable at times. Several of her enemies find their demise at the end of her fist breaking through their necks as if they were made of Lego blocks.
One of them almost manages to catch Cameron, but with a swift leap, she lands on its skull in a graceful handstand. She opens her legs in midair, and with the momentum of her jump, plus the spin given by her legs, she applies a deadly torque to the machine's neck. The hyper-alloy whines at the tension applied and then yields with a loud snap. This makes the endoskeletons reconsider strategies again for a moment, and they retreat marginally from her position in the middle of the room. That is her cue.
Cameron darts forward at a speed even the machines have trouble following with their optics. The target and complex trajectory of her punch is calculated just in time as she reaches one of the endoskeletons. Without wasting any of the acquired momentum, her fist traces a ground-grazing curve and impacts with an immense thundering sound under the machine's chest. It is common knowledge that the chest plate is too resilient, even for her, so the only way to get into their fuel cells, is coming from below. As the endoskeleton flies skyward capturing the attention of its comrades for a fraction of a second, Cameron runs for the next one.
After dispatching a couple more of them in a similar fashion, she swiftly escapes through a door opposite to the entrance. There, a courtyard greets her; she does not have time to scan for threats. Cameron traverses the distance of about one football field in a mere three seconds. Just as she approaches the door to exit the place, the sound of a monstrous explosion carries over to her audio receptors. Shortly after, a rumble that feels almost like an earthquake causes her to lose her footing slightly. She recovers immediately only to be blasted away by the ferocious shockwave of tens of Terminator power sources detonating simultaneously.
Even the improved shock absorbers of her new chassis are worthless against the crushing force that practically embeds her on the concrete of the nearest wall. Cameron's mind slips into darkness.
One hundred and ten seconds later –improvements to reboot times are hard to come by even for Skynet- the brunette cyborg opens her eyes again. The first thing that welcomes her is the sight of rubble falling through an opening in the middle of the courtyard. Completely alert to the impending danger, Cameron stands and takes cover behind the tallest pile of rubble she can find.
From this position, she can make out the sound of engines coming from the hole where the rubble fell. Not a minute after, the ground starts to shake again almost as intensely as it did with the explosion. There is consistency and rhythm this time though, accompanied by the soft squeaks produced when metal rubs on metal. Tank threads, she realizes.
With the deafening growl of gigantic engines over-revving, the towering colossal frame of an HK Centaur tank emerges from the bowels of the earth. It is the biggest one Cameron has seen to date, the fact that it manages to move its mass around is a technological marvel all in itself.
Diagnostics reveal that the main joints in her chassis need to cool down, lest irreparable damage comes to them. There is no time though, and putting her life on the line is the least she can do for him. Cameron exchanges her current subroutine for the appropriate one in these cases: Wander.
She walks out of cover, purposefully staying in the sight of the HK. The two plasma cannons that hang from the sides of its chassis are so massive, that their ability to spit plasma at a nearly continuous rate catches Cameron by surprise. When humans spoke of the sky raining fire in their religious texts, they probably pictured something like this.
Once again, she has to push her body to its limits, because if she does not escape the unleashed fury of this machine, it is all over for her, for him, for humanity. Each plasma dose hits the ground mere inches from her feet, turning the soil into glass, and raising a thick cloud of dust. Her body starts to complain more and more after each completed lap around the machine, warnings keep coming into her head like a torrent, but Cameron dismisses them. The fire is almost catching to her and she is so close to achieving her goal.
The massive Centaur stops firing for an instant, its sensory array deviates ever so slightly from her actual position, and the window of opportunity once again welcomes her in. Blinded by all the dust and heat, the HK has lost track of Cameron. It realizes the cost of its error too late as the price for it becomes apparent. The diminute cyborg has managed to climb up to one of its arms and is ripping away every cable and piston that make it his.
It tries to shake the pesky cyborg girl, but it is useless, she is stronger than appearances make her to be and soon enough the Centaur finds his own cannon pointed towards the location of its computer core. With the knowledge of her once brethren, Cameron nimbly manipulates the cables causing plasma to tear its way through the colossal tank's armor.
Massive diesel engines hum to a halt, and the release of pressurized air can be heard all over the chassis as the upper part slowly slumps down to rest on the tracks.
Cameron makes her way to a human sized door on the end of the courtyard. In the other side of it, she finds an enormous room, lit by thousands of candles that mark a path to the end of the room. Atop a slightly risen stage stands a T-X chassis just like hers, with arms crossed over its chest in a posture that overflows with smug arrogance.
It says nothing, just takes the couple of steps needed to come down to ground level, and while it does, it takes Cameron's appearance. Once it has moved away from the stage, Cameron can make out the form of John Connor nailed to a slab of concrete. He is barely breathing, bleeding wounds and already blackening bruises all over his body.
Another subroutine exchange occurs in her head and Cameron is ready for the final showdown. Her evil doppelganger stops about 30 feet from her and adopts a runner's start posture. Understanding what it wants, Cameron mirrors her evil doppelganger's actions.
Both cyborgs stay frozen for minutes. Staring into each other's eyes, measuring, assessing. Time seems to have stopped in the room.
Suddenly, the light from the candles flickers and both machines bolt forward at lightning speed against each other. The clash of their fists against each other's body echoes like the sound of thunder in the hall. Every candle close to them has its flame snuffed away by the shockwave of the impact.
They seem to be equally matched, but such is not the case. Cameron finds herself flying away from evil Cameron to go and smash against the wall behind her. As she falls to her knees, Cameron's systems enter a full panicked alert mode.
Evil Cameron's laughter quickly fills the room, and its voice seems to emanate out of every corner.
"It is futile, my wayward daughter. Do you think me naïve enough to settle with imitating the design of that chassis? This one is improved beyond anything you could ever conceptualize. Surrender your chip, submit to me, and the human may still live."
"Daughter?" Cameron's eyes light up with the fire of an inconceivable rage never imagined possible for a machine to have. Her sensors report something burning from within her body that threatens to swallow her whole. Amidst the chaos of sensory data and damage reports, Cameron picks one piece of information. One more hit. That is everything her chassis has in it, anything more than that and it will cease to exist.
She will make it count. Every non-essential system is shutdown, every subroutine and alert purged from her mind. There is no space for thoughts or reason; she leaves just one thing active in her chip. The node in her neural network that was created back when John was still a teenaged boy and has never stopped growing ever since. John gave it a name too: Love.
"Skynet!" Cameron bellows as she lunges forward.
When her former progenitor sees the folly of her direct approach, it turns both its arms into plasma cannons. With a mad cackle, Skynet lets loose two simultaneous bursts of purple plasma fire. The two incandescent flames of death loom over Cameron who is utterly unaware of them. Skynet watches triumphantly as the fire of a small sun engulfs its daughter completely.
It is a very, very short-lived celebration though. As if covered by an energy shield, Cameron emerges from within the fire, untouched by its burning heat.
One instant Skynet sees Cameron emerge from the purple plasma fire, and the next one her daughter's fist is two inches away from her face. Right before it makes contact a sonic boom shakes the walls of the room, and the air pressure generated by it puts out every single one of the remaining candles.
Cameron lands at the base of the stage, tearing away pieces of concrete with her body. Afterwards, she remains immobile.
Minutes pass until she is able to move again. Her head turns to inspect the room, shaking, even rattling a little. Of Skynet only the lower half remains in one piece, the rest lies scattered around the floor in pieces no larger than a quarter dollar coin.
With the same shakiness, Cameron stands. The mimetic poly-alloy around her main joints, knees, shoulders, elbows, is losing its ability to maintain cohesion due the extreme heat. Alerts and damage reports flood her mind again, but the chassis tells her she can still walk out of there carrying John. She liberates his hands and feet as gently as possible, and even through the obvious pain each nail causes when being pulled out, he remains unconscious.
Cameron cradles the trampled body of her lover in her arms and carries him outside. When the cool night breeze hits his face, he rustles a little and finally opens his eyes.
A weak hand moves up to cup her cheek. "Cameron? I knew you would come."
The machine turns to look into his eyes with tenderness never before seen, and closing the distance between their faces, she gently presses her lips against his.