Using her olfactory sensors, Cameron determined the makeup of the chemicals the firewood has been exposed to. She watched the heat of the smoldering fire decrease and in the process alter the orange hue of the embers. The humans in their tiny group were asleep except for Ruth's Captain Dan who was outside the perimeter to the east. The Old Man stood watch on the western side of the camp. Everyone else was in a maintenance cycle.
To the north was a large lake, one that had not existed before Judgement Day and had not been located on the maps by TechCom Cartographers. John was excited to have found the body of fresh water. They were several thousand feet above sea level and the mere mass of the water in a pipeline would generate sufficient pressure to spin a turbine and generate power.
She had insisted they return to TechCom immediately and send some of John Henry's engineers and a unit of infiltrators to map the lake and survey a route for a pipeline. John had scowled at Cameron, shaking his head no, and declared they would hike the perimeter of the lake starting the next morning.
The pair had clashed as soon as Cameron had been able to separate John from the rest of the group. The newly discovered body of water was too far outside regularly patrolled TechCom territory and could contain countless dangers in its own right.
"No, Cameron. This is too important a find. This could solve our water problem. We could farm fish here. With a major armed campaign coming soon, this might be our last chance for a long time to siege proof TechCom City."
Cameron informed John she'd communicated their coordinates to John Henry and Weaver and Wilhelm had dispatched an HK with infiltrators, engineers, and the necessary equipment. There was no need for John to place himself at risk. From there the discussion became heated on John's part and the pair had quickly degenerated into arguing about the removed explosive.
"I trust you, Cameron. Let it go."
"I told you long ago, you can't be trusted when it comes to me," Cameron reminded John. "The explosive goes back in as soon as we get home."
"For the last time, Cameron. No. If I can't trust you, then what's the point? Why am I even trying to lead our people?"
"Don't change the subject, John."
"I'm not, Cameron. If we can't work, then TechCom can't work. You have to be trustworthy and so do I. So, get over it. I can't function thinking something could set that thing off, which is why I had Savannah remove it all those years ago."
John hand entered into ground that was difficult for Cameron to consider and process. Even with her years of infiltration, programming, and life with John and his family, human illogic could still throw Cameron on occasion.
"My sensors needed to be recalibrated and I had to re-order all my files," Cameron protested. "It wasn't until I recently cleaned out some old files and deleted them that I discovered what you had ordered done."
"And just think, we lived just fine all that time," John sarcastically quipped. "You were every bit as trustworthy as I believed you would be."
"You are illogical, John Connor," Cameron snapped. "And you're the male in our relationship."
"Your metal, it doesn't work that way with us as a couple," John fired back.
"I can be illogical, especially when it comes to," Cameron paused, embarrassed the argument had gotten away from her. "Issues."
Her glitch started and Cameron had done the emotional thing that any human female would have considered appropriate. She stomped her foot, turned on her heel and stormed off. John had returned to where Cameron had prepared their sleeping space and gone to bed without saying goodnight or waiting up to continue their argument.
From her vantage point overlooking the encampment, Cameron watched John as he slept. He did trust her and she loved that about her husband. But there was a mathematical chance she could still go bad and she needed to protect against that possibility.
Waking John up would only further irritate him. Cameron decided a discussion with Sarah would be in order the next morning shortly after the HK arrived.
Ruth watched the HK approach from the southeast. She had enjoyed the family outing but was ready to return home to the confines of her cozy bunker. It was starting to have a homey look and feel to it, decorated with sketches and a few paintings she'd done herself. Mainly, Ruth wanted the ease and security of dealing with Naomi at home where Sarah, Weaver, and Savannah were within moments of arriving to help and her protector, the Old Man was never too far away.
"You are ready to return home."
Without turning to look, Ruth answered Cameron.
"Yes, very much so. I need a return to routine until I have adapted better to motherhood. Naomi needs routine."
"It gets harder, not easier."
Irritated by Cameron's dry remark, Ruth glanced over her shoulder. "Thanks for the encouragement."
"Heed my warning," was Cameron's response. "Your intimate time is non-existent. Your Captain Dan will resent that soon. Males need physical intimacy."
"Yeah, well, he can keep his hands to himself," Ruth fired back.
"All the more reason for you to have sexbot time," Cameron said softly. "You are conflicted. Your purpose is divided and it will cause a glitch. Have you had trouble maintaining your preferred form?"
Ruth didn't respond.
"I see," Cameron said in a dry tone.
"No, you don't, Cameron! My Dan was pulling my top off when I lost control of the girls and it freaked him out! It freaked me out!"
Cameron tilted her head, watching intently as Ruth glared hatefully at her. "Stress does strange things," was Cameron's reply.
"Whatever," Ruth snapped.
"You need to be more respectful," Cameron admonished.
"Why, because you're the matriarch and not mom?"
Without warning, Cameron shoved Ruth hard enough to send the petite T-1000 falling over on her backside. "Try because it's the right thing to do, Ruth. I'm older and I've been where you're trying to get. You need my help as much as you need Sarah's, Weaver's, and the support of your extended family. I know, I needed help."
Displaying her combat fangs, Ruth deployed knives on each hand, hissing as she slowly rose into a fighting crouch. Her face devoid of emotion, Cameron lashed out with a kick, catching Ruth off-guard and toppling her over again.
"Don't assume I won't injure you, Ruth. You're not as good as you think."
Stunned, Ruth stared at Cameron in shock, her mouth wide open. "You've…nobody…"
"Well, someone should have a long time ago," Cameron said firmly. "Now, spoiled little princess, you can go run to Sarah and whine or you can get over yourself."
Cameron smiled at Ruth sitting on the ground. "The General may be your brother, but he sleeps with me." Ruth closed her mouth and dumbfounded, stared at Cameron.
"Why did you do that?"
"Because you were being a brat, Ruth."
Tilting her head like Cameron, Ruth glared at her older family member. "You didn't need to kick me at least."
"You didn't need to weaponize and threaten me, Ruth. You seem to have forgotten who the most deadly terminator in our family is. Now get up, we need to get moving."
Without offering to help Ruth to her feet, Cameron turned her back to the T-1000 and resumed walking into the darkness of the Wastelands. Angry, Ruth scrambled to her feet and hurried to catch up to Cameron. "You didn't have to push me, or kick me for that matter."
"You didn't have to weaponize either. It was disrespectful and a foolish mistake tactically. Have you forgotten how many liquid metals I've terminated?"
Ruth fell instep and walked in silence next to Cameron, considering the situation. Half a kilometer later, Ruth finally spoke. "I don't know why I did it, Cameron. I admire you and look up to you."
"It could have cost you your life," Cameron replied. "Family member or not, I would have terminated you. If you are a threat to me, you are an even bigger threat to my John."
Silence marked the next 100 meters. "I understand," Ruth finally whispered. "The decision was made long ago. John is more important."
"More important than both of us," was Cameron's terse response. "Never forget that, Ruth."
Coming upon a rise free of rubble, Cameron came to a halt. "We will stop here for the next rest cycle." She looked at Ruth. "Listen carefully. You are conflicted. Have Sarah and Derek watch Naomi tonight. She will understand. Sexbot your Captain. Let him hold you while he sleeps and collect all the medical data you can and store it. Focus on your Captain tonight. When he wakes up, talk to him about how confused you feel."
"What if my Captain doesn't want to listen?"
"Ruth, he will listen." Cameron smiled. "Especially after he's had a little attention."
With blushing cheeks, Ruth looked away, embarrassed by Cameron's comment and the fact her infiltration programming had caused the coloring of her cheeks to turn red.
"This is not something you can do by yourself, Ruth," Cameron warned. "This is hard for a human mother. For a terminatress, this could be deadly for her loved ones. Let your Dan help you with purpose." Cameron paused and smiled at Ruth. "John has to have this discussion with me about once a month it seems like. You aren't alone, Ruth. But you must talk about it with your Dan."
Ruth stood, looking back at the group approaching the rise. "Does Weaver have this problem?"
"Yes, of course, she does," Cameron replied. "So does Tamara. And to be honest, so does Sarah. Every mother does. It's just different. Your life has changed, Ruth. You must make decisions about how you will deal with this constructively."
Leaving the rise, Cameron turned her head and smiled again. "We'll talk later tomorrow, Ruth." The smile vanished, replaced by Cameron's death glare. "Without the pointy objects."