June 22, 2010
1963 – Timeline UFO
Cameron exited the M25 at Barnett Bypass Road. They had made good time once they had reached the M11 and then transition to the M25, but now it would be back to surface streets for the final three miles to their destination in Borehamwood. When they had first set out from Mildenhall Air Force Base up in Suffolk, she had hoped to arrive before dark; however traffic and road construction around the base had made their progress slow until they reached the British version of the interstate highway system. Now, although it wouldn't officially be twilight for another eight minutes, the infamous overcast skies had already left it feeling like night for the last half hour.
"Everyone ready?" Cameron asked, as she first glanced to her left at John sitting in the front passenger seat of the rental and then up into the rearview mirror where she saw Naomi and Sarah give curt nods from the backseat.
They were all still dressed in blue United States Air Force uniforms. Once they had discovered their destination lay in England, they had decided going with the military cover Cameron had temporarily set up during the rescue mission back in the desert had several advantages. First, it allowed them to bypass normal customs with all their weapons. Second, in gun averse England carrying weapons while in uniform would raise less questions than if they were in civilian attire.
One of the first things Cameron had done on reaching civilization after the hike out from the spot in the desert where the time machine had dumped them had been to look up information about her daughter, Lisa, in this timeline. Back here in 1979 it hadn't been quite as simple as it would have been further up in the future where the Internet would be available, at least in timelines that had developed the Internet. But there had been computer databases accessible from the Air Force base where she had 'borrowed' the V-48. And she had learned the Lisa she had left behind back in 1971 had, in this timeline, been adopted in 1974 by a Virginia Lake, who had been a captain in the Air Force at the time.
It wasn't until after she had rescued the others that she had been able to do more research into Lisa and Virginia Lake. She discovered Lake had been transferred to England in February 1975 and then had resigned her commission six months later. At the same time she had made an abrupt career change and had become a film producer with the Harlington-Straker Studios located in Borehamwood, England. She apparently was still working for them in Borehamwood, but that was all Cameron had been able to glean about the woman's last four years from the Air Force databases.
Along with searching for her daughter, Cameron had naturally searched the Air Force computers for evidence of Skynet activity. What she found wasn't necessarily Skynet, but there was definitely something unusual going on based on the hints she had been able to uncover. And those hints implied the center of the activity wasn't the L.A. to San Francisco corridor that had been typical for most of the prior timelines she had passed through. No, the center of activity was England and a whopping thirty-seven percent of all message traffic she had managed to decrypt was associated with Borehamwood. Something unusual was definitely going on in the very city where Lisa now lived.
And Cameron couldn't forget Lisa was John's daughter, too, and the Connors were always a nexus for terminator activity. It definitely increased the odds whatever she had uncovered involved Skynet. Once she had described what she had found to the others, Sarah and John had agreed they needed to investigate. So here they were in Merry Olde England in search of their long lost daughter, but ready if they should run into a Skynet plot.
Cameron glanced again in the rearview mirror at her friend, Naomi, who had jumped into the time bubble with her as she had departed the last timeline. With a side trip to access one of their weapons caches for a fresh supply of light sabers, plasma rifles, and other weapons, they had now been in this timeline for three days. Three days for Naomi to readjust from her former luxurious Beverly Hills lifestyle to a life centered on battling Skynet. So far she seemed to be holding up okay, but they had yet to experience a real combat situation, which would be the real test.
The M25 motorway circled the outer edge of Greater London. Here in 1979, the road had passed through as many rural areas as developed stretches. The spot where they exited was in one of the rural regions, but quickly they could see the lights of Borehamwood piercing the descending gloom. Borehamwood, they knew, was frequently referred to as the 'British Hollywood' due to the concentration of movie studios in this one small area. But at first sight, it looked like a typical middle class suburb similar to many others they had passed through on the portion of the M25 they had traversed.
Using the map she had memorized, Cameron quickly passed through the town's small commercial district before heading north towards the residential address she had uncovered for Virginia Lake. As they got closer, the quality, size, and price of the homes they passed steadily increased. When they finally turned onto Seven Oaks Lane, they discovered a street lined with stately mansions each set well back from the street on several acres. Lake had obviously done very well for herself since leaving the Air Force.
As Cameron pulled over to the curb on the opposite side of the street from the Lake residence, but one house short to give them an opportunity to scope out the situation, Naomi was the first one to speak.
"Hey, I like it here. This is the first place we have been that feels like home."
John grinned at her remark as he scanned their destination, which like the other houses on the street was protected by a solid-looking brick wall and a wrought iron gate across the drive. "What? You didn't appreciate the accommodations on the base? They were far better than a lot of the places I have stayed."
"But did they compare to David and Sarah Silver's house back in Beverly Hills? And I know you visited there," responded Naomi.
John thought back to his first arrival in Beverly Hills. It had been in the bedroom of the John Connor, or rather the John Silver, of that timeline. It had probably been extremely nice, but he had been so shocked to discover he was as ethereal as some ghost or phantom to pay much attention to such insignificant things as room size or décor.
But thoughts of Beverly Hills brought his mind back to his daughter, Lisa. She had been seven years old when he had first met her after Cameron brought her uptime to 2008. He had known her as a seven year old for barely a month before they were again separated by the vagaries of time travel. When he had next seen her, which was barely four days later from his perspective, she had been a forty-five year old woman. And now, only three days later, he was about to meet her as a sixteen year old, who would be his own age give or take a few months. How utterly bizarre was that? Would he recognize her? Would she remember him? Would she even have met him before in this timeline? God, time travel across a multiverse of parallel dimensions could definitely mess with your head.
John was just about to respond to Naomi's question when he saw Cameron cock her head in the special way she did when she was hearing something a normal human couldn't or sensing something with one of the other unique abilities she possessed.
"What?" asked John with an edge to his voice that quickly let his Mother and Naomi in the backseat know things were probably about to turn serious.
Cameron held up one finger requesting silence as she continued to listen. After eight more seconds she pushed open her door. "Some kind of airborne craft is approaching, but I don't recognize its auditory signature. Weapon up in case there is trouble."
Sarah and John reacted instinctively and raced around to the car's trunk, or boot as it was referred to here in England. Naomi was only half a step behind them.
John quickly handed each of the women a standard Air Force issue military sidearm in a canvas utility belt before strapping on his own. Next he handed out radios that could be attached to the opposite side of the utility belt. Strictly speaking Cameron didn't need one as her internal radios could be configured to use the same frequencies. But there might be times when she would need to use it while maintaining her human cover. Then as he moved to distribute the heavier ordnance, the aircraft Cameron had heard passed almost directly over their heads.
And in the same way Cameron had said she had never heard anything like it, John had never seen anything like it either. Its forward velocity was very low and it was barely a hundred feet over their heads and descending rapidly. It had no visible propulsion system he could recognize – no jet engines or propellers or ducted fans. Even under the dark skies he could see via some internal lighting that the craft was silvery in color and shaped like a giant Hersey's Kiss, although somewhat flatten like it had been heated in an oven for a few minutes. Around its perimeter were a series of vertically oriented flat disks, at least a dozen, and they were all rotating around the central body. John couldn't see how they could be providing any useful aerodynamic lift, so he assumed the craft was utilizing some kind of anti-gravity system like they had learned about in the timeline where Skynet had colonized the moon.
The craft was still well above their heads when it passed over, but the three humans instinctively ducked. From their crouched position by the trunk of the car, they watched as it swooped around the Lake house and then disappeared from sight, but obviously it was settling to the ground.
Several of the second floor windows had been lit, but now with the arrival of the strange craft, the lights abruptly blinked out.
"I don't know who that craft belongs to," said Cameron. "But I have a bad feeling, as nothing like it was in any of the Air Force databases I have accessed. I'll check out inside. Follow as soon as you can, but stay outside, as I don't want us shooting each other in the dark. Sarah, go around the left side of the house. John and Naomi go round the right side of the house. If I can't settle things inside, I expect the action will move out the back towards the craft. Position yourselves to lay down covering fields of fire, if it becomes necessary."
With that, Cameron grabbed a light saber for close up work, which she clipped to the utility belt, and a Russian Dragunov SVD for longer distance use. The Dragunov was the most powerful sniper rifle readily available in the mid-1960s when the weapons caches were being set up, and the weapon best able to stop a terminator until the Barrett M82A1 would become available thirty years later or plasma rifles a further twenty-five years into the future.
Then with a quick nod to the others, she sprinted across the street. With one hard jump, she cleared the eight foot brick wall barely touching the upper surface with her one free hand before disappearing from view.
Quickly, John pulled his attention back to the car's trunk and its remaining collection of weapons. He handed Sarah an M16 since the sniper rifle Cameron had taken was designed for use from a prepared position and was too heavy to use as a portable weapon for anyone but a terminator. John took the plasma rifle for himself, as he worried anyone else might use it too close to Cameron, which could wipe her neural network as had happen several times in her distant past. Finally, John turned and looked at Naomi.
"Do you want to just stick to the handgun for now, or would you also like a bigger weapon?"
Naomi had seen Cameron demonstrate the lightsaber back at the weapons cache and had seen her grab up a pair of gloves from the trunk when she had grabbed one of the weapons. There was still another pair of gloves along with three more lightsabers in their stash. "How about an Uzi and a lightsaber?"
John handed her the Uzi and several spare clips. She quickly slung the gun from her shoulder and tucked the clips into the back waistband of her uniform pants. When they had gone to the cache to get the weapons, they had intentionally selected one hidden out in the desert so they could do a little weapons practice. Naomi had been a surprisingly quick learner with the Uzi, but then she had always been intelligent even if she had never pushed herself academically. But she had never tried one of the lightsabers and had only seen a quick demo.
"Are you sure about the lightsaber?" John asked.
Naomi reached passed him and grabbed the spare pair of gloves. As she slipped them on, she said, "If one of those terminator machines gets close to me, I want to be able to defend myself."
"You could easily burn off an arm or a leg of your own with it," warned John.
The blonde rolled her eyes. "You just pretend it's a tennis rack and use a two handed grip and stick to forehand and backhand strokes. Easy."
"John, just give it to her. We have to go," said Sarah forcefully before running towards the wall on the other side of the street.
Now with the lightsaber in her left hand and her right hand stabilizing the Uzi, Naomi also headed across the street at a run.
John eased the trunk closed before grabbing his plasma rifle and following.
Sarah had already scaled the wall and disappeared by the time John reached it. He quickly cupped his hands and gave Naomi a leg up. When she was straddling the top, he handed up his rifle before scaling the wall in turn.
When the two of them dropped to the ground, they descended into almost total darkness as the wall blocked the light from the streetlamps lining the street. Ahead they could see the outline of the house backlit by the glow from the strange craft somewhere on the far side. One of the front double doors stood ajar, so John knew Cameron was already inside. Then John quickly spotted his mother about halfway across the broad front lawn heading towards the left side of the house. He wanted to follow Cameron inside in search of their daughter, but knew she was right. They would only get in each other's way and Cameron was the best one to go in alone.
"Come on," whispered John before he realized Naomi hadn't waited for him to lead, but was already running in a crouch in the opposite direction from Sarah. So far since getting to know Naomi he had discovered she wasn't at all the spoiled rich girl he had expected.
Quickly, John ran after her. When he caught up he slowed to match her pace.
"Safety?" John asked.
Even with the shoulder strap, Naomi had been using her right hand to stabilize it as she ran. She moved her hand down slightly and slid her index finger across the lever. "Safety is engaged."
"Good," said John approvingly. "Selector switch?"
"Single shot," she immediately responded.
"Twenty-one seconds of useful life. So don't turn it on until you see the whites of their eyes."
"Make that 'see the evil red glow of their eyes'," John corrected with almost a laugh.
They quickly reached an archway separating the right side of the house from the freestanding four car garage structure. When John peeked around the corner, he could just see one edge of the large flying craft. The vertical disks around its perimeter were still spinning and the craft appeared to be hovering eight or ten feet above the ground. Or, on second thought, it could be sitting on landing gear that weren't visible from this position.
"Do we proceed back here or swing around the far side of the garage?" Naomi whispered.
"Around the garage," answered John dropping into instructor mode. "If we are forced to pull back under fire, there isn't enough cover here. From the other side of the garage, we can retreat over the wall into the next yard if it becomes necessary."
"Are you in position?" The voice of Sarah crackled faintly from John's radio.
John gestured to Naomi and then pointed along the side of the garage to get her moving before responding. "Thirty seconds."
Cameron reached the large gray stucco house's front door. A quick thermal scan revealed the dead bolt in the closed and engaged position. She wasn't going to be able to get through the door without making some noise. Based on how the interior lights had gone off upon the arrival of the craft, she decided she was going to have to assume whoever was on the craft was hostile. Therefore breaking down the door was the right thing to do. And creating a lot of noise was useful in this situation as it might distract the invaders' attention, if they were already in the house, and get it focused on her.
Therefore Cameron raised her right military-boot clad foot and slammed it into the right door next to the dead bolt's location. Before the door had swung half way open, she had already darted through the opening and gotten her back against the wall of the entryway to make herself as small a target as possible. Whoever had developed the flying craft had sufficient technological expertise to have also developed weapons that would be lethal to even her enhanced combat chassis. Then she paused the 1.35 seconds it took for her low-light vision mode to come online.
Blending the results from her low-light vision and her infrared sensors, Cameron quickly swept the portion of the first floor ahead of her. Nothing was visible in the infrared band, so no one had been in this portion of the house for at least forty-five minutes. Unfortunately, the infrared sensors could, at best, see clearly through one layer of walls and in this sprawling mansion that would get her nowhere near the rear entrance of the house where the intruders would be most likely to enter. She fired off a quick pulse with her internal radar array, but again its limited fifty foot range didn't reach the back area of the house.
The combined data from the low-light, infrared, and radar sensors did allow her to create a three-dimensional representation of the nearer portion of the house. The only clue she had to the whereabouts of the house's occupants was the lights being switched off on the second floor. This data was now ninety-eight seconds out of date and they could be almost anywhere, but since it was the best information she had, Cameron quickly moved to the nearby staircase.
Deciding she had drawn enough attention towards the front of the house, Cameron ran up the stairs as stealthily as possible without grinding down to a slow crawl. Just before reaching the top, she paused and did another scan. Hallways led off to the right and left from the top of the stairs. Her thermal imaging was giving the faintest afterglow of human bodies straight ahead through what looked like two intervening walls. Since there was no route straight forward, short of busting through the walls, Cameron randomly chose to proceed down the right corridor.
She had barely gone twenty-five feet when she encountered a decoratively carved mahogany door in the left wall that was standing half open. The lights were out in the room, but it had a pair of skylights which let in sufficient light to allow her to see this was a game room dominated by a large pool table in the center. Since she could see a door at the room's other end which would lead towards the back of the house, Cameron quickly stepped in.
As she proceeded across the room with eighty-five percent of her processing power focused on the path ahead, the remaining portion took in the room which also contained a gaming table, a wet bar, and a dartboard in one corner. For an instant she focused on the traditional furnishings, but then her attention was drawn back to the skylights. The light shining down was silvery-white and pulsated with a forty-seven millisecond period. It only took a moment's thought to realize the light was coming from the craft located behind the house. When it had overflown their position out on the street during its arrival, it had been impossible to determine its exact dimensions without anything appropriate to use for scale. But to throw this much light through skylights located high in the second floor ceiling, the craft had to stand at least twenty feet tall. And with its height locked down, it was possible to estimate the craft's diameter at forty-five feet plus or minus three feet.
Reaching the far side of the room, Cameron lowered the CPU priority assigned to extrapolating performance characteristics for the craft from the meager available data and turned her full attention ahead. Sliding up to the open doorway, she leaned her head out just long enough to perform a scan in both directions. Studying the thermal gradient in the hallway, she determined two humans had passed by the doorway moving from right to left within the last three minutes. And moving towards the left would lead to the back central portion of the house nearest the mysterious craft. If the heat signatures belonged to Lisa and the Lake woman, why would they be moving towards the potential danger?
Still not understanding what was going on, there was nothing she could do but follow. As soon as she stepped out into the hallway, Cameron lowered the gun from the vertical position in which she had been carrying it to navigate the doorways to a firing position in case she needed to get off a shot quickly.
As she moved steadily down the corridor, Cameron picked up the subdued radio chatter between John and his mother. It was good to know they would be in position if things moved out into the back yard, which felt more and more likely.
Reaching the back stairs, Cameron could sense the thermal trail left by the others heading down the stairs. And she could also tell even though she hadn't been moving at a hurried pace, she was still gaining on them as though the others were dawdling or perhaps one of them was putting up resistance which was delaying their progress.
Quickly, Cameron picked up her pace in hopes of reaching them before they left the house. For once outside, they could be aboard the craft in a matter of seconds and if they reached the craft the odds against rescuing Lisa, if she needed rescuing, would increase a thousand-fold.
Just as she reached the bottom of the stairs, Cameron caught a brief flash of movement in a doorway ahead. Breaking into a run, she raced in pursuit. Pausing in the doorway she found herself in a sprawling kitchen filled with a high frequency droning sound from the mysterious craft, which had been much more muted deeper in the house. The room was also brilliantly illuminated by the wall of windows on the far side that normally would show the manicured backyard, but which was now almost completely filled by the image of the large craft hovering directly behind the house.
But Cameron barely spared five milliseconds on the view through the windows before her attention fully focused on the room's occupants. And surprisingly there weren't merely the two she assumed based on the thermal signatures, but rather there were four. And even more surprising, the two extra people were adorned in what looked like bright orange spacesuits up to and including white globular helmets. Her thermal sensors quickly determined the orange suits had to be insulated as they leaked almost no heat, which explained why she had thought there had been only two people preceding her down the stairs from the second floor.
Even as she realized each of the large space-suited figures was holding a much smaller struggling female, Cameron triggered another brief pulse from her radar array. Whoever or whatever the orange clad figures were, they were definitely not terminators, as the reflected radar signal didn't read as a metallic endoskeleton.
Cameron didn't have time to ponder who they were if not terminators. The farther one, who had what had to be the Lake woman in its arms, was almost to the shattered remains of the backdoor and the nearer one with Lisa in its arms wasn't far behind. If she was going to stop both of them before they reached the craft, she was going to have to move fast.
She didn't have a clear shot at the nearer one without risking hitting Lisa. And since they obviously weren't terminators, it also didn't feel right to simply kill them without figuring out what was going on. Therefore Cameron ran forward while lifting the heavy rifle over her head. When she caught up to the one holding Lisa, she slammed the rifle's butt into the side of the helmet – hard. Hopefully, the helmet would provide some protection from her blow, but she needed to take it down fast and if the blow turned out to be fatal, well, the wearer shouldn't have messed with her daughter.
The hard blow cracked the helmet and sent the wearer crashing sideways to the floor. Cameron threw out an arm and snagged Lisa before she followed the space-suited figure down.
The girl was spun halfway around and was left staring Cameron straight in the face.
"Mom?" Lisa exclaimed with a startled expression. The initial comment was quickly repeated with warmth and excitement as she flew into Cameron's arms, "Mom!"
Lisa hugged Cameron tightly for a moment, before pulling back. "Quick, you have to save Mom, I mean Virginia."
For an instant Cameron felt annoyed Lisa would refer to the other woman as Mom, but then she reminded herself Lisa had been living with the Lake woman for five years and that for Lisa it had been eight years since Cameron had left her behind back in 1971.
At sixteen, Lisa had already reached her full stature and Cameron once again found herself looking up into the eyes of her three inch taller daughter in much the same way she had done when she had first met the forty-five year old version in the previous timeline. At least this time it was Lisa who was the more startled of the two.
Cameron nodded and then pointed back deeper into the kitchen. "Get under cover until it is safe."
Lisa nodded in turn and then stepped over the fallen orange covered body on her way to a spot behind the heavy refrigerator.
Cameron spared a quick glance down at the being on the floor. The first thing she noticed was the handheld weapon clipped to its belt. While it had the general shape of a handgun, it was subtly different. And from the bulbous shape of the barrel she judged it was some kind of energy weapon. There was no way of knowing at a glance if it was powerful enough to damage her body, but she definitely didn't want to find out the hard way.
Then the second thing she noticed was the viscous green fluid oozing from the crack in the helmet. Looking closer at the faceplate, Cameron realized the creature's face was almost completely obscured from view by the fluid. From somewhere deep in one of her databases an obscure reference to a 2012 DARPA technical report surfaced. It had documented a study into the merits of substituting a highly oxygenated fluid for air to combat the effects of high gee maneuvers on the human body. Based on the limited data she had, she wasn't quite ready to say the creature in the suit was a liquid breathing human or whether the green liquid was its natural environment. No, all that mattered at the moment was stopping its partner; resolving its true nature could wait for later.
Quickly, Cameron turned her attention to the second spacesuit clad figure. It had already passed through the doorway and was half way to the ramp she could now see extending from an opening near the bottom center of the craft.
Cameron raced out through the shattered door. The only good thing was the spacesuit seemed to have prevented the creature from noticing what she had done to its partner. However over the increasingly loud whine of the craft, the Lake woman must have heard something or caught sight of something in her peripheral vision, as she was now twisted half around and staring back at Cameron over the creature's shoulder.
The orange suited figure must have noticed the woman's movements, as it paused and turned in Cameron's direction. Cameron raised the heavy Dragunov to her shoulder as the creature went for the weapon clipped to its belt.
Lake began to struggle furiously, while Cameron wished she would simply hold still. Finally, when her opponent had his weapon half raised, Cameron took the shot. She would have like to have gone for only a wounding blow, but with the heavy, powerful slug the Dragunov threw, almost any hit could be fatal. And at the moment her options for a shot that would miss the woman were extremely limited, therefore when Lake leaned briefly to one side, Cameron shot the creature right in the center of its faceplate.
The creature was thrown backwards by the impact, but as it fell it twisted and its lifeless body was left sprawled across the woman. As the woman struggled to get free, Cameron saw a port open up on the lower surface of the craft and the nozzle of a much larger weapon than the hand weapons of the creatures began to extend.
Cameron chambered another round into her rifle as she raced towards the other woman. Three steps short of reaching her, Cameron paused and fired into the exposed energy weapon. In response to her bullet's impact, bolts of green lightning were dancing around its muzzle as she turned her attention back to the woman.
Quickly, Cameron hoisted up the space-suited body with her free hand. She originally intended to toss it clear, but then realized it might be useful as a shield. She had no idea how many more of the creatures were in the craft, but perhaps the one in control of the ship's weapon didn't know this one was dead and would hesitate to fire if she kept the body between them and the ship.
"Can you walk?" Cameron shouted at Lake over the roar of the craft in this position almost directly beneath it.
The woman nodded and climbed to her feet, but then with a wince she wavered and almost collapsed back to the ground.
"My ankle is badly sprained, if not broken," she said, as she staggered into Cameron's side.
Juggling the large body around to her left side, Cameron reached her right hand that still held the Dragunov around the other woman and got them headed back in the direction of the kitchen.
"We need to get to cover," Cameron shouted while simultaneously calling for some cover fire from John and Sarah via her internal radio.
John and Naomi had been watching from the shelter of the side of the garage as the figure in the orange suit and white helmet with the struggling woman in its arms had exited the house and headed towards the craft's entry ramp. As soon as he saw them, John hit the pre-start button on the plasma rifle. Once again he almost cursed the major drawbacks of the weapon. Oh, it packed a serious wallop, but it took twelve seconds from when you hit the button before the two-part chemical interacted and it was ready to fire. And then once it was ready you had ten shots or twenty-four seconds, whichever came first, so you couldn't risk pre-igniting it too early either.
As John counted down the seconds until his weapon would be ready, he took in their situation. They were almost forty feet from their target and John knew he couldn't take out the man in what looked more and more like a spacesuit with the plasma rifle without taking out the woman, too. He briefly contemplated using Naomi's Uzi, but it wasn't an accurate weapon either. If he had a Dragunov like Cameron was carrying, he might be willing to take the shot, but for the moment there was nothing he could do but watch helplessly. Hopefully, by the time the weapon was ready, something would change enough to allow him to use it.
Then he saw Cameron follow the other pair out through the doorway with her Dragunov raised to her shoulder. The figure in orange turned towards Cameron and John felt a surge of fear rip through him. He quickly raised his plasma rifle trying to will time to run faster at his end of the yard so the remaining five seconds until his weapon would be ready would fly by in an instant.
As his mental countdown reached 'one', Cameron fired her weapon and took out the individual in the orange spacesuit. Gratefully, John lowered his weapon, counting the twenty-four seconds the weapon's charge would last, as he watched Cameron rush forward to aid the struggling woman. However, just before she reached her, he saw Cameron pause and fire at the lower surface of the craft. At first he assumed someone else was coming down the ramp from the craft, but then he saw her actual target – some kind of weapon protruding from the ship.
He didn't know if Cameron had managed to destroy it, but as he watched her hoist the space-suited figure into the air and then help the woman to her feet, he spotted another similar weapon's port begin to open.
"I could use a little cover fire here," came Cameron's voice from the radio clipped to his belt, as she began staggering back towards the house under the double burden of the woman and the figure in orange.
Seven seconds remained on the plasma rifle's charge as John lifted it back to his shoulder. He took two seconds to focus and calm his breathing before pressing the trigger.
His first shot was wide of the target striking three feet to the right and two feet short of the second portal with the protruding muzzle. The area of the craft's hull where the energy bolt struck glowed briefly orange before fading; the shot hadn't caused any apparent damage.
Knowing he only had seconds before the plasma rifle would go dead, John fired the weapon as fast as he could without pausing to aim in the hopes one of the shots would hit the craft's weapons port. He managed to get off four shots in the last two and a half seconds, but it was quickly obvious none of them had struck home.
"Shit," John exclaimed, as he lowered the rifle and hit the button which would eject the spent chemical pack. Simultaneously, he tried to fish another chemical pack from his pocket.
As he worked and tried to keep an eye on Cameron at the same time, he felt movement beside him. Glancing over, he was almost blinded as Naomi lit off the lightsaber.
Squinting his eyes nearly shut against the glare, he was about to ask what she was doing when she took three running steps passed him and then tossed the lightsaber in a high arc.
The weapon went spinning end over end until it crashed, blade first, into the upper surface of the craft. For a moment John thought it was going to sink straight down into the craft, but after a couple of seconds it toppled over and went skidding down the sloped surface.
As it seemed to skid harmlessly down the craft's side, John was about to congratulate Naomi for at least trying something creative and something which had never occurred to him, when the lightsaber reached the edge of the upper surface and contacted the first of the rapidly spinning vertical disks. The lightsaber burned about a quarter of the way through the first disk before being kicked up and free. And then suddenly it was like the lightsaber was the ball in some giant pinball machine. It bounced back and forth, up and down, all the while burning big chunks from the disks. Finally, it fell down between the body of the craft and the ring of spinning disks and must have torn out some vital support structure. Three of the disks in a row tore free from the craft and went smashing into the side of the house. Fortunately, they were level with the house's second floor, because they shot through the wood and stucco structure like a row of buzz saws.
Even separated by the width of the garage, John could feel the house shudder and the ground shake from the intense impact. Before the shaking even died down, he could see the rock-steady hover of the craft begin to falter. In a couple of seconds it was wobbling like an out-of-control gyroscope. And then a couple more of the spinning disks tore loose, although this time they went flying off towards the back of the property.
The brilliant bar of light that was the lightsaber finally fell clear of the craft and hit the stone patio. It bounced once before falling on its side and lay there burning a groove into the hard granite. John had been mentally counting down the seconds, but while it still had eight seconds on its charge, it disappeared from view as the wildly oscillating craft crashed down upon it.
The spinning disks may have shook the house when the three impacted, but it was nothing compared to the massive craft's impact. Both John and Naomi were thrown to the ground. John was just glad the craft had missed the house and that he had seen Cameron dive through the house's back door with her burden only moments before the craft had crashed into the patio.
The high pitched whine the craft had been producing rapidly wound down as John climbed back to his feet. Looking down to where Naomi still lay on the ground, he reached down and offered his right hand.
As he pulled her to her feet, John said with a smile and more than a hint of respect in his voice, "Naomi, I'm glad you're on our side."
Naomi grinned. Then she took a moment to run her fingers through her long blonde hair to sweep it back from her face. "Well, your plasma rifle didn't do much good and the Uzi seemed like it would do even less, so the lightsaber was the only other offensive weapon we had."
"Still, I don't think I would have ever thought to use it in quite that way," John said as he finished loading the chemical pack into the plasma rifle. The ship might be down, but there could still be someone alive in the ship and they could come bursting forth at any moment.
Naomi must have had the same thought, as she unslung her Uzi before responding. "I would like to take all the credit, but a scene from one of the movies popped into my head. You remember; the one where they jammed the lightsabers tip first into the large steel door and then used them to cut open a passage. I hoped if it landed right, mine might do the same thing. And at first I thought it was going to work, but in the end I think having it rip into the spinning disk things turned out even better."
John gave a short nod then said. "We should keep an eye out for any more of the spacesuit guys, but let's work our way over to Cameron and the others."
Naomi took a firmer grip on the Uzi and then followed John, who had slung the plasma rifle with its long prestart time from his shoulder and drawn his sidearm instead.
Fortunately, the large craft had come to rest a good ten feet from the back edge of the house, and they didn't have any difficulty working their way to the kitchen door. As they reached it, Sarah was just approaching from the opposite direction.
Sarah nodded in Naomi's direction. "Good job."
Naomi felt a blush of pride spread across her face. She had known this Sarah for barely three days, but she already knew the high standards the woman expected and how rarely she dished out the compliments. And for the first time, Naomi really felt like she was part of the team.
Virginia Lake staggered back into her kitchen, one arm still wrapped around the young-looking, impossibly strong girl in the United States Air Force uniform. Immediately, they were flung to the floor by the spaceship's impact with the ground. And once again she found herself trapped beneath the body of the dead alien; the green fluid from its suit leaking from the shattered faceplate and pouring across her back, neck, and hair.
What the hell was going on she wondered. First, the alien spaceship had specifically targeted her house. They had never before gone after a member of the SHADO organization. There had been countless encounters between SHADO's defensive craft and the aliens so they had to know of SHADO's existence. But how had they got her name and home address? Only one answer came to mind. There was a traitor within the SHADO organization. And not just anywhere, but a traitor right here at SHADO's headquarters, as the personnel files were located nowhere else.
Second, there was this mysterious girl in the Air Force uniform. Who was she? Where had she come from? And how could she carry the large alien over her head in one hand while helping her into the house with the other?
And finally, how had the girl and her associates taken out the alien spaceship? As they had been staggering back to the house, she had seen two more people in Air Force uniforms down beyond the garage. One of them had tossed a weapon at the ship like she had never seen before – a weapon that had taken down the whole spaceship. The spaceships were fiendishly hard to destroy and she had never heard of one being taken down by a single handheld weapon. So who were these people? Only members at the highest level of the United States Air Force were supposed to know about the aliens or about the existence of SHADO. Hell, she had been Air Force and she didn't learn about the aliens until she had joined SHADO and she was the second in command of the whole freaking organization. So who were they and why had they been at her house at this exact moment? Had they known the aliens were going to strike here?
But then, as she fought her way free from the encumbering body, her thoughts shifted back to what was the most important question at this moment – where was her daughter and was she hurt?
"Lisa!" Virginia shouted as she finally rolled clear of the body. She quickly climbed to her feet, but grimaced in pain. By now she was certain her ankle wasn't broken, but it was definitely a bad sprain.
With relief, she heard Lisa respond with a loud, 'Mom'. She was just turning in her direction when Lisa ran straight passed her and embraced the girl in the Air Force uniform.
What the hell? How could Lisa know this other girl, wondered Virginia. And then she got an even bigger shock when the two uniformed people she had seen down by the garage stepped through the shattered door. All three of the strangers wore officers' uniforms, but when she saw them together, none of them looked any older than her sixteen-year-old daughter. Who were these people?
"Dad!" exclaimed Lisa turning and embracing the youngish man.
As Virginia was about to ask what was going on, another uniformed woman entered from the backyard. At least this one looked mid-thirties, about Virginia's own age, however by the way she moved, she instantly struck her as looking more like a true warrior than anyone she had ever met in either her old Air Force days or now in SHADO.
"Naomi, we need a moment with Lisa. Can you keep an eye out back and give a shout if you see any movement?" asked the older woman in a commanding tone.
The young blonde with Captain's bars on her shoulders nodded and moved over to the door, one hand slipping around the grip of her Uzi.
"Grandma, ah, sorry, Sarah," said Lisa as she moved over and hugged the older woman.
When Lisa and the other woman broke apart, Virginia finally found her voice.
"Lisa, who are these people?"
Lisa's face was still all smiles and her eyes kept darting between the other young people.
"Mom, these are my parents, my biological parents," began Lisa. Then with an incline of her head she nodded towards the young dark-haired girl. "This is my mother, Cameron Miller." Then she nodded towards the dark-haired boy. "This is my father, John Connor." Then she gestured towards the older woman, who had light brown hair which was almost a perfect match for Lisa's. "And this is John's mother, Sarah Connor."
Virginia shook her head. "Lisa, what game are you playing? They aren't any older than you. No way are they your parents."
Virginia watched as Lisa glanced at the others. When the older woman gave a slow nod, Lisa turned back in her direction.
"Mom, the reason they look so young is because they are time travellers," Lisa turned and looked at the other young girl. "Mom, oh would you mind if I call you Cam for the moment to avoid confusion?" When the other girl nodded, Lisa continued. "Cam, when was the last time you saw me?"
"I last saw you at 2:37 P.M. on June 12th, 1971. From my perspective that was one hundred ninety four hours, sixteen minutes ago – call it eight days. Although, technically, I saw a forty-five year old version of you on September 27th, 2008 approximately thirty-seven hours and eight minutes ago."
"That's not possible," said Virginia feeling like she was going crazy. "Time travel is not possible."
"Mom, is it any harder to believe than the fact you work for a secret military organization that is fighting aliens?"
"Lisa, what are you talking about?" asked Virginia. Her daughter wasn't supposed to know about SHADO. Like the rest of the world, she was supposed to believe her mother was a movie industry executive.
"Mom, I'm not stupid. And my parents are time travellers who have been battling an evil computer network across countless timelines. Did you think I wouldn't notice all the military types, whether they wore traditional uniforms or not, always hanging around the studio? Or the audio lags when you called on your extended 'business trips'? I timed them and they always match the speed of light time delay that would occur if you were calling from the moon. If you had really been on Earth, no matter where you were or how many satellites the calls got routed through, they wouldn't consistently match the 1.28 second lag from the moon."
Virginia found a nearby kitchen chair and sagged into it. She had gotten her position thanks to her ability to think on her feet and react quickly in a crisis, but at the moment she felt totally, absolutely overwhelmed. Lisa was not supposed to know about her true job, yet she did. Time travel wasn't supposed to exist, but if she were to believe Lisa, it did. Of course, if they really were from the future, it would explain the weapon they had used to take out the alien spacecraft.
What should she do now? She had a crashed alien spaceship in her backyard, dead aliens in her kitchen, and Lisa's time traveling parents standing here obviously masquerading as Air Force Officers.
Definitely the first thing she needed to do was call headquarters and get a team out here to cordon off the area. Forcing herself to her feet she started towards the phone mounted on the far wall.
As always, Sarah was the first one to bring up the real reason they had come here. "Lisa, have you seen any activity by Skynet?"
Virginia paused in her slow limping movement towards the phone and looked at her daughter.
"I don't know. At first I thought the secret organization Mom works for was established to battle Skynet, but I believe they are truly battling aliens. Skynet could be involved; I just haven't seen any proof either way."
"Well, these guys definitely are not Terminators," stated Cameron with a nod towards the two orange clad figures lying on the floor. "I pulsed them with my radar and they don't have metallic endoskeletons."
John moved over closer to the one Cameron had shot in the face. A large pool of green liquid had formed on the white tile of the floor. "What are they? Some kind of liquid breathers like fish?"
Just then the second one, who Cameron had knocked down with a blow of her rifle's butt, began to stir. Almost faster than Virginia could believe, Sarah, John, and Cameron all had their weapons trained on it. Whoever these people were, it was obvious they had seen a lot of combat.
"Lisa," said Cameron, "Do you have rope or something we can restrain him with?"
Lisa nodded and ran over to the walk-in pantry.
While she was occupied, Cameron responded to John's earlier question. "These aliens may not be actual liquid breathers. I have old research in my databases talking about using highly oxygenated liquids in place of air in the lungs to allow the human body to withstand higher Gee maneuvers. I think that may be what we are seeing here."
"You mean like in James Cameron's movie, ah, what was it called, ah, The Abyss?" asked John.
Cameron shrugged. "I don't know that reference. Either that movie simply is not in my databases or it didn't exist in my original timeline."
Virginia got moving again towards the phone. The origin of the SHADO organization dated to an alien attack back in 1971. The organization had first successfully stopped an alien attack in 1974. SHADO had been fully operational now for three years and had stopped sixty-eight alien attacks either while still out in space or at numerous locations around the planet. In all that time, they had never recovered a nearly intact spacecraft or a live alien. Now suddenly, she had both and it was due to the efforts of these four strangers. And with only a hint of data and a couple minutes of conversation, they might have already come up with an explanation for how the alien spacecraft were able to perform near perfect ninety degree turns without killing their crew. What could they achieve for the organization with more time and data?
"I think we are about to have company," announced Naomi as she leaned back into the kitchen from where she had been standing just outside watching the spacecraft.
For a moment the others tensed, as they thought she meant more aliens were about to emerge from the downed spaceship, but then they all heard the telltale warble of English police cars.
"We don't want the police involved with this matter," said Virginia. "With a call, I can have my people out here in twenty minutes. Since you already know, would you mind helping a little more?"
Sarah nodded and she understood. This was just like keeping the secret of Skynet from the general public.
"Great," answered Virginia. "Since you have the uniforms, we will just say this is a military matter. Sarah, since you are the most believable as military, how about you and Naomi go out front and interface with the police. Have them cordon off the area and keep everyone back at least a couple of blocks until my people get here. Cameron and John can keep an eye on the alien and the spacecraft."
Sarah nodded again. It was a good plan for the current situation. And Lisa's foster mother was definitely a lot more than a movie executive – a lot more in a good way. And she was also impressed with this Lisa. She was smart and observant, if she had correctly penetrated Lake's cover story. And she might need both if they were truly battling aliens in this timeline. As scary as aliens sounded, what really scared her was if this timeline had both aliens and Skynet.
Sarah tossed John her M16. "Here, you might need this more back here than I'll need it out front. Naomi, let's move so we are out there before the cops arrive."
"Lisa, can you show us the quickest way to the front door?" asked Sarah. Then with a final glance at Cameron, who was using the ropes Lisa had found to restrain the living alien, Sarah and Naomi followed Lisa out of the kitchen.
Cameron, Naomi, Sarah, and John, still dressed in their Air Force uniforms, climbed out of their rental car in front of the executive office building at Harlington-Straker Studios. Virginia and Lisa had just exited Virginia's Lotus sports car parked three spots down.
It was the morning after the events at the Lake house. They had all spent the night there, but none of them had gotten too much sleep. Between writing and recording reports of the events and working with SHADO's engineers to figure out how to dismantle the spaceship to move it to the more secure movie studio, they had been too busy.
Ed Straker, the head of the SHADO organization, had been in Washington in meetings when the spaceship had crashed. He had flown back this morning, but until she was able to brief him, Virginia was in temporary charge of the situation. And until she and Ed could talk and determine how best to proceed, Virginia had decided to maintain the Connors' cover story with both the police and even her own people. Therefore they had gone with the story that they were U.S. Air Force personnel who were related to her and Lisa and who just happened to be at her home when the spaceship had made its appearance. With the skills, technology, and information they brought to the table, she hoped she could convince the Connors, and Ed, that they needed to join forces.
They were just approaching the broad, wide steps leading to the ultramodern office complex when the front door swung open and four men walked out. The men were laughing and joking and had crossed half the intervening distance when one of the men suddenly turned in their direction.
Flashing his famous smile, he jogged over calling out. "Is that really you, Sarah?"
Sarah was surprised he remembered her. For her it had been only a week, but for him it had been eight long years. But then the few hours they had spent together had certainly been memorable.
"James, it is good to see you. What are you doing here?" responded Sarah, as the man pulled her into a quick hug.
"Making a movie, what else? It's called 'Firepower'. I'm doing it with Sophia Loren and O.J. Simpson." Then he took a quick step back before continuing. "Wow, what has it been? Eight years? And you don't look a day older. And I see you are still working out. Been in any good fights lately?"
Sarah grinned and wondered how he would respond if she told him she had spent the night battling killer aliens. "No, but then I haven't been to a Hollywood party since then either."
He laughed. "So when did you switch from photojournalism to being a military officer?"
Sarah looked down at her uniform. "Oh, these are just costumes." She paused to nod in Virginia's direction. "Do you know Virginia Lake? She's an old friend and since we were in town, she thought we might enjoy being movie extras for a day."
He glanced towards Virginia. "Of course, I know Virginia. She was an executive producer on one of my films last year. It was such a good experience I agreed to work with Harlington-Straker again on my current project."
"Jimmy, always good to see you, again," said Virginia, as she shot a quick glance at Sarah wondering how the woman had come to know James Coburn.
Sarah was wondering if Coburn was going to notice how Cameron and John hadn't aged either. It was far easier to believe she wouldn't look much different eight years later, but the others should have more noticeably aged from mid-teens to mid-twenties. But Coburn never spared them a second glance, and Sarah almost found herself blushing. In her hard life it was rare for a man to focus on her to the exclusion of everything else.
"So, Sarah, how about dinner?" asked Coburn.
Sarah slowly nodded. There weren't any terminators on the immediate horizon and apparently there was a whole large organization set up to deal with the alien invasion. Perhaps she could afford one night off just for herself.
"Dinner sounds wonderful. Can you pick me up here about seven?"
Coburn's smile widened. "Seven sounds great. Well, I have to run; they were expecting me in wardrobe forty-five minutes ago. I'm looking forward to tonight."
With a wave, Coburn turned and walked towards where the other three men were not so patiently waiting.
"Hey, Grandma," said Lisa in a joking tone once Coburn was out of earshot. "You never told me James Coburn had the 'hots' for you."
Sarah glared at Lisa for a moment not sure if it was for the 'grandma' or for the 'hots' remark. "Virginia, don't we have a meeting to get to?"
Virginia nodded and got the group moving towards the front door. She was curious how Sarah knew Coburn, but sensed the woman wasn't interested in talking about it. She definitely was going to have to quiz Lisa when they got a moment alone.
"Well, that was eerie," remarked Naomi.
"What?" asked Virginia.
"My dad is also in the movie business, I mean really in the movie business. I remember meeting Mister Coburn once when I was a little kid and he was a lot older than he is now. I think I was about ten when he died."
Virginia started to feel like her head was spinning again. "What?"
Sarah sensed the other woman was lost. "Naomi, what year were you born?"
"John, how about you?" Sarah continued.
"1984, but you know that Mom."
Sarah turned to Lisa, "And I know you were born in 1963, the same as me."
Sarah finally turned Virginia. "So we have three kids with us who are all sixteen years old, but one was born in 1963, one in 1984, and one in 1992. Welcome to my life. I am sure you will adjust to it in time like I did."
Virginia nodded. But then she looked at Cameron. "How about you? You look sixteen, too."
So far the topic of her true nature hadn't been brought up. Obviously, Lisa knew, but had never told her new mother. Of course, if she had said anything in the past when she didn't have any proof, she would have appeared to be crazy. But for the moment it seemed best to not say anything, as they might need her secret abilities at some point in the future.
"Oh, I'm from much further into the future or at least one possible future," responded Cameron. "Things are very different then. How old you look has nothing to do with your real age."
Virginia was going to ask how things could change that much, but then she remembered how much things had changed in just her lifetime. When she had been a teenager back in the 1950's she never would have dreamed she would have spent months on the moon before her thirty-fifth birthday. Or that she would be second-in-command of a planet-spanning organization fighting alien invaders. The future seemed almost impossible to imagine.
But knowing it wasn't all going to jell in her head in the next thirty seconds; Virginia just shook her head and got the group moving again. It was time to focus on the present. And that meant talking with Ed Straker and determining how to proceed with all the new data they had acquired in the last twenty-four hours. And it also meant deciding what they were going to do with regards to Lisa's time-traveling family.
With a barely noticeable limp, Virginia led them through the large glass front doors of the studio's executive office building, which was the first step on the path to the secret entrance to SHADO's underground headquarters.
End of Chapter 2