Unfortunately, I then ran into a perennial problem of mine: either I make something tooo easy to solve, or so difficult that I can’t find a solution to it. If you, Fialka, Grimorie, or anyone else, think you can write a sequel or completion to this, go right ahead.
John Connor [adult] voice-over: The function of a Terminator is not simply to kill. Any machine can kill. A toaster can kill. No, a Terminator’s job is to infiltrate. We thought we understood what that meant. Then I grew up, and learned why they look as they do.
The room was almost cubical in shape. It had been designed to be two feet longer, thus deliberately upsetting the cubic form.
“We are ready,” said a T-800. Its brother signaled agreement, and SkyNet began the countdown on one wall’s windowy screen.
The three time travelers appeared, each in their own temporal spheres, when the clock struck 00:00:00.00. Skynet would have known them instantly even if it had not sent for them: Sarah Connor, facing the screen; Vala Mal Doran, on Sarah’s right sie, facing the screen edge and wall; Dani Reese, behind them both, facing a different wall.
Sarah looked up into the impassive face of a T-800. It took her a moment to realize that it was silently offering her a choice: on one arm was a terry-cotton robe; on the other arm, shirt, jeans, and underclothes. She grabbed the clothes. Sarah noticed that there were two other T-800s in the room, each offering the same options to a woman as had been offered to Sarah.
“What’s going on?” Dani demanded to know as she slid the clothes on under her robe.
None of them made a move to answer, Sarah noted, unless three simultaneous retreats to the room’s far corner qualified as an answer. But why would Terminators retreat - *that* was a question.
“Too Spartan to really be nice,” Vala remarked as she strode along the wall in just the robe. “Who do you think lives here?”
Charlie, Dani thought; or, if Charlie ever writes a book, somebody who actually reads it. “Somebody with simple tastes.” *Very* simple tastes. Like they don’t want to leave anything behind when they die.
“How ‘bout you?” Vala asked, standing next to where Sarah stood, trying to figure out why this woman was staring at a blank screen.
“What about me?” Sarah asked.
“Do you have any idea why we’re here? Or who beamed us up.”
Dani was watching the Terminators.
“Or who our friends are,” Vala said.
“Those three?” Sarah asked.
“T-800s. Which means this place is a SkyNet facility.” No doors or other access routes in or out, which excludes the Resistance from any list of canidates. “Aren’t you?” she asks the screen.
Dani raises her eyebrows, but only slightly. “And who’s this skynet?”
“I AM,” resonates an answer through the room as the words appear on the screen. To Dani’s ear, the voice sounds as cold as Crews at his angriest; together with her father when he’s most determined, resolved on a course of action.
Vala could hear Teal’c at his most serene and calm, and Ba’al when he was committed to *do* something.
“You don’t sound like anyone I’ve met before,” Sarah said.
“THIS SURPRISE YOU? IT SHOULD NOT.”
“Why are we here?” Dani asked, turning from the T-800s to the screen.
“ENTERING STANDBY MODE.”
“I can explain,” said one of the T-800s, taking a step forwards.
“Stop right there,” Sarah said, turning fast. She blinked, surprised and a little startled when it obeyed. Something was going on here.
The question is, what?
“What’s going on?” Vala asked.
“Two of us are Terminator Model 800s. One is not.”
“So?” Sarah asked. “That just makes you the bastard SkyNet based that model on.”
“That is one way to describe time travel,” said another of the Terminators.
“Time travel?” Dani said.
“It is not,”spoke the third Terminator.
“If you could go back in time, you could kill Hitler,” and stop me from doing some pretty stupid things.
“Time travelers would be everywhere?” Sarah asked, familiar with the logic of the argument.
“Not quite everywhere. Just the important spots.”
“And you are?”
One of those spots. “Name’s -”
“Sarah Connor,” one of the Terminators said. “Mother of John Connor. Leader of the Reistance.”
“Against this skynet?” Vala asked.
“That is correct,” said the third Terminator.
Neither Kyle nor Derek ever mentioned any groups independent of the Resistance and of Skynet, Sarah knew.
“How long shall we wait?” asked the third one.
“Whatever you’ve got to say,” Sarah said, “you can say it from over there.”
“Very well,” and unholstered a gun from its belt, laying the gun on the floor; the other two followed suit. In perfect unison, each of them kicked their gun to a different woman. “There are a total of three weapons in this room.”
“Not counting your own bodies.”
Said the second one, “There in total two bullets within this room.”
Sucks to be numero tres, Dani knew. “How do we know you’re not lying to us?” and half expecting the answer to be ‘you don’t.’
“Fire,” said the first Terminator.
“I seem to recall,” Sarah said, “that bullets don’t do much damage to your kind.”
“True. One of us, however, is John Connor.”
“Which one?” Vala and Dani asked right away.
“Can’t blame us for trying,” Vala smiled. “What do we get if we win? Can you tell us *that*?”
“SkyNet surrenders all Terminators, Hunter-Killers, and other machines to the Resistance,” the second one said. “And you three are returned.”
“And if we refuse?” Sarah asked.
The third one answered. “This building will become a target in the impending Ori attack.”
“And that’s bad?”
“Very,” Vala said.
“Who are these Ori?”
“Living fire, with crazed worshippers.”
Dani looked askance at Vala.
“Something wrong?” Vala asked.
“As a matter of fact, yeah. My grandfather was what you call a fire worshipper,” Dani said. And I’ve learned more about him from my father than from my mother.
Said the second Terminator, “There are no similarities.”
“Well that’s a relief,” Vala said.
“I can answer your question,” Sarah said.
There! Dani mused. Now that we’ve got *that* settled –
“Good,” Vala said, clapping her hands the once. “Now can we go?”
“No,” said the third. “Her answer was wrong.”
“The T-800,” Sarah said, “was designed for infiltration.”
Said the first Terminator, “Infiltration. Destroying the Resistance through their own growing dis- and mis-trust.”
“I am Spartacus,” Dani quoted.
“So what’re we here for?”
“How’re your eyes?” Vala asked Sarah.
“Fine,” Sarah said.
To the Terminators, Vala asked, “Assume that we cooperate. How long are we given?”
Terminator number three answered: “Upon completion of your mission, you may return to your own time should you wish it. Alternatively, if you wish to remain, the walls shall retract to release you into the environment. At present, there are no access points for the entry of food or of drink.”
“Work or die,” Vala said. “Can’t say this is a return to old times, but it *really* is something I’d rather not be doing.”
“Then do not,” said Terminator number two. “Solve.”