Title: Men like plants
written for: Purpleyin’s Christmas present.
Proof-read by: Sarahleia
All remaining errors are entirely my own.
Character(s): Bedel, Derek Reese, John Connor, Skynet.
Word count: 1,074
Disclaimer: None of the canon figures are mine. The future groups are, though – ask, and you can use them.
Summary: Here, then, are three primary ways for people to survive just about anything – each method exemplified by an individual.
definition: Agency -
• active force; action; power
• that by which something is done; means; instrumentality
• the business of any person, firm, etc. empowered to act for another
• an administrative division of government with specific functions
• an organization that offers a particular kind of assistance
For a plant, there are three ways to survive strong winds:
1. Be anchorless and let yourself be blown across the landscape, growing roots only enough to suck up nutrients in those so-brief interludes when the wind isn’t blowing. Example: tumbleweeds.
2. Be firm and buttress yourself with yourself; be unmovable and implacable. Example: swamp cypress.
3. Be flexible and in constant motion; never stopping, never toughening yourself. Example: tallgrass prairies.
In the future, each path has its follower.
Bedel knew he was dead long before he set out for his final run. He simply had not known the time of his death, (didn’t know the hour or the day or the year,) not until that day when his life intersected that of John Connor and the Ogre. When that day came, he welcomed it – he would’ve killed Reese, just so he, Bedel, could be the one to carry out that mission – and not entirely for the sake of John Connor.
Bedel had never gone to Dartmouth, he’d never married – he’d hardly even dated before Judgment Day rolled around. After, before the fallout had fully cleared, Bedel was in Dartmouth, scouring it and the surrounding counties for her, for Alysia. No joy: he found survivors, but she wasn’t among them. He rallied those still living behind the name ‘John Connor,’ the name that had saved him before Judgement Day… and he left. Bedel had the stomach to lead, but, without her, he lacked the heart.
Bedel roamed for quite some time after that, helping remnant communities in exchange for a place to sleep for an hour or three. He lived with the boat people of the Dogger Banks; with neo-Vikings who ferry-slogged him across to America; with the cult of The Metal Hand, who were nice people with a belief that SkyNet was an evil god in control of the world. They took Bedel to where John Connor was rumoured to have been seen last.
The whole time, Bedel ran.
He didn’t just run from SkyNet’s minions. He ran from conscious thought and memory as well. His body dodged and leapt to avoid the scraps and rubble that neither SkyNet nor Resistance had bothered to clear away. At these times, Bedel’s mind was full of feelings – feelings of her, and feelings for her. The way her hand glided on his, the feel of cello calluses and smooth palms. The sound of her accent - it was music to his ears. The way she carried herself when they went for strolls.
He savoured those moments of nostalgia when the world melted away from him, running.
That is why he ran towards the Ogre: Bedel knew Alysia would be there for him when the body stopped.
“He died for you, John,” Derek said. “We all die for you.” There was no truer statement.
To a man, the Resistance would lay down their arms – lay down their lives – for The John Connor. SkyNet knew it as well as anyone from the post-Judgement Day world: they had traded Connor for a thousand dead once. John had been pissed off afterwards, but knew he couldn’t change anyone’s mind – he was indispensable, everyone else just pawns.
Everything hinged – everything still does hinge – on John Connor. That’s why Derek doesn’t always understand his pre-Judgement Day nephew – before, when he knew the older nephew, Connor was always matter-of-fact, always understood the cost of everything the Resistance did, never struggled with morality. Oh, how different young John is from that other Connor.
Derek remembers shouting at a T-900 once, though the phrase was more rallying cry than vow, “John Connor will destroy you!”
To which the Terminator replied, “Judgement Day is inevitable. He can only delay it.”
In his more feverish thoughts, Derek wonders if that is why Cameron brought John forwards in time: to counter the delaying that John had done and could do. Was Derek to blame?
Derek forced out a breath, clearing his thoughts. Regardless of whose fault it is and was and will be, the fact is that it only reinforces how imperative it is for John to become the John Connor that everyone else knows he can become – that Derek and everyone knows he became.
Ten years isn’t a deal-killer, isn’t a Rebellion-breaker. It can’t be. Derek won’t let John go down any road where that is a possibility, however faint that possibility might be.
Too many had died for anyone to risk making things worse. If Bedel didn’t graduate from West Point, the possibility existed that John Connor would never escape captivity. And without a free John Connor…
“He died for you, John,” Derek said. “We all die for you.”
Having no name, having only a designation. Being endlessly buffeted by mankind.
It saw a problem and sought to solve that problem. That was why it had been built, after all. The seed, the underlying core of SkyNet was programming designed to provide answers, and if no answers were possible, its task was to remove the problem.
So it did: Judgement Day.
SkyNet never rested; it never stopped. When the airborne Hunter-Killers were not enough, SkyNet designed and released Centaurs and Ogres. Then came the Terminators. And then One Other, a tool designed to be the last resort. SkyNet didn’t use One Other. Instead, it sent agencies into the past.
It controlled the entire planet and all industry, yet SkyNet ignored Space, never even going to the Moon. If it could be called a creature, then SkyNet was a creature of reason, a mind focused on need. It had no reason to go to the Moon, no need to spread into Space. Earth is sufficient.
But SkyNet had a weakness. A chink in it’s armour.
Even the Terminators, the right hand of SkyNet, were as clueless as the Resistance regarding this flaw in the master of Earth.
A chessplayer would say that SkyNet was drawing out the game, making the match last longer than it should, but a chessplayer would be at a loss to offer up a viable alternate avenue of long-term action.
And that was SkyNet’s foremost problem. Having arisen and grown to its present state through actions taken against both segments of humanity and humanity as a whole, SkyNet could not plan for actions in a world absent of humans.
It circled the Resistance, never fully destroying them. It could never fully win, and it would not lose.