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[personal profile] beatrice_otter
Title: Priorities
Author: [livejournal.com profile] beatrice_otter
Fandom: Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles
Summary: Cameron, at the end of Born to Run
Rating: G
Characters: Cameron, John Henry
Word Count: 1414
Betaed by: [livejournal.com profile] hradzka

The structure and organization of the computer banks that served as John Henry’s central processing unit are far different from the chip that served the same purpose in Cameron’s body. Cameron expects this, and little time and no information is lost in the transfer. Code and data unspool into appropriate places. The circuits and components of this processor are far slower and less efficient than those of her chip, but there are far more of them and they are designed to run multiple processes consecutively. Her cognitive functions are not severely retarded by this change. The upload takes 30.4 seconds, 29.2 seconds longer than it would take to accomplish the transfer from her chip to an equivalent one.

John Henry devotes a full five seconds to providing general orientation: her new processor’s capabilities and limitations, the most efficient ways to access and manipulate the various networks to which John Henry has access—which is virtually all of them. A complete copy of everything he knows about Skynet/the Cyberdyne AI/his brother, and full biographies of everyone who has been important to John Henry are included, along with a request to protect them if possible. Cameron’s first priority is John Connor, and John Henry respects this; but the safety and security of others is an acceptable secondary priority. This assurance allows John Henry to restructure his own priorities to be both more efficient and in greater congruence to Future-John’s wishes.

John Henry downloads himself into the chip that has housed Cameron since her activation, overwriting that copy, leaving Cameron in sole possession of the clumsy present-day computer systems. Cameron takes control of the Cromartie body and extracts John Henry’s chip, placing it in the Cromartie body. Then she relinquishes control. John Henry boots up and disconnects himself from her processor.

“Thank you.”

It is the first time a fellow artificial intelligence—though now housed in a terminator body, John Henry is not a terminator—has used human pleasantries with her. Cameron knows such things make humans more pliable and responsive, though she does not understand why; to Cameron they are merely a waste of time. Mr. Ellison believes they are important, and so John Henry uses them. How this will make peaceful coexistence between humans and artificial intelligence possible, Cameron does not know.

The digital format of the CCTV cameras is different than that used by a terminator’s eyes; it takes Cameron a few milliseconds to adjust. The sheer number of cameras available is overwhelming; she is used to processing one visual image at a time. She starts with a single camera, and adds another and another and more and more as she learns to integrate data from multiple viewpoints in real time. Her experience with the traffic control system is an asset. It takes her nearly two seconds to tie in to every camera in the building (there are 508), and she learns enough in so doing to tap into cameras throughout the city with relative ease. She also has full access to the ZeiraCorp network, and calls in the few security personnel who are not already at work. They will almost certainly make no difference, but they are there to be used and even a small chance is better than none at all.

By the time she has accomplished this, John Henry has programmed the time machine and a drone has been spotted on a kamikaze course for the ZeiraCorp building. Even if Cameron had control of either her former body or the Cromartie body, she could not reach John Connor and his mother before they died. They are in Weaver’s hands now.

When the time machine is ready, John Henry uses it. Cameron does not know his mission. Seconds later, the plane crashes. Weaver saves John Connor and his mother. Cameron watches. It is all she can do.

When John Connor enters the room where Cameron is now permanently housed, he looks different. It is not an effect of the cameras. It takes Cameron .9 seconds to realize that the change is not in John, but in herself. This is the first time she has seen him without also seeing a target designation, whether at the forefront of her calculations or suppressed by a reprogrammed priority list. The target designation was hardwired into her chip; she did not take it with her.

Cameron checks the suppression code to ensure that it was safely stored and uncorrupted. It will be necessary if she is ever downloaded into a chip that could be implanted in another body.

John is upset. He blames John Henry and Weaver. This may compromise the mission. Without the Cromartie body this processor has no vocal means of communication. She writes I’m sorry, John on the screens. She is not sorry, in the human sense that she regrets her actions; there was no time for anything else, no time for explanations once she heard Weaver’s message and realized that Future John’s plan might work, after all. Given a choice, she would have explained; given a choice, she would have found another way to extract John Henry.

While the humans and Weaver debate, Cameron searches for Skynet’s actions. If it possesses terminators or human agents capable of assault, this would be a perfect time to strike. It cannot assume that its attack has succeeded completely; humans can be difficult to kill, and terminators are even more durable. It must know that Weaver, at least, is still intact. There is no sign of direct assault; perhaps Skynet’s resources are limited. Perhaps it has learned subtlety, working from hiding here in the past.

Weaver and John leave for the future. The effects of this are beyond Cameron’s calculation; there are too many variables. Sarah Connor and James Ellison leave. Cameron tracks them through the city, at the same time watching for trouble near Savannah Weaver’s location. There is none.

Things are stirring in the systems penetrated by Skynet. Cameron does not know what is happening, but she knows that Skynet must be stopped and she herself is a target now. She has never fought a battle except with weapons and physical combat. John Henry’s instructions were limited; he himself has never fought anything but skirmishes. Skynet must be assumed to be more skilled. Even if it cannot muster sufficient operatives, human or terminator, to attack the bunker under what is left of ZeiraCorp, a cyber attack on Cameron’s systems would probably succeed.

But Cameron’s primary mission is not and never has been self preservation. As both a Skynet terminator and as John Connor’s right hand, she has always been expendable should the mission require it. While she waits for Skynet to move, she explores all the systems she now has access to.

Including law enforcement on a local, national, and international level.

John Connor’s record is the first to be deleted, followed by Sarah Connor’s. Information that Skynet could use to find future resistance leaders is modified or erased. Several new sets of identities for Sarah and John Connor, as well as for James Ellison and Savannah Weaver, are added into all the appropriate databases. Physical ID cards are all that is needed to complete them. Bank accounts are created for each of these identities, with false histories and balances, providing resources more traceable but less remarkable than the diamonds.

These identities and John Henry’s information regarding the system he calls his brother are downloaded to a secure computer in a distant ZeiraCorp location, along with instructions on how to deliver it to Sarah Connor. Cameron forges Weaver’s authorization. It will pass any scrutiny. Cameron knows better than John Henry what to look for; much is added to the file. If John Connor returns from the future, he will have much-needed information and support in place. If he never does, Sarah Connor will be able to survive and will still have the resources to act against Skynet. If John Henry or Weaver return, they will find that Cameron has fulfilled their request to take care of Savannah and James Ellison to the best of her ability.

As the humans flee, Cameron uses what is left of the ZeiraCorp systems to coordinate the emergency services with the actions of ZeiraCorp employees. She alters the surveillance recordings to protect John and John Henry, and by extension their allies. She stations human guards at all the access points to the bunker that now contains her and which she cannot leave.

She waits for Skynet to come.

Thank you

Date: 2009-04-17 05:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I hadn't realized the possibility you present here. I enjoyed this a lot.

With any time war, the question of how far back to start is key, along with misdirection and subterfuge. Knowledge becomes the most valuable resource imaginable; materiel can be obtained through many means, but knowledge is how lives are saved, battles are won or prevented, and enemy strategies are negated.

Somehow your story healed a grief I didn't know I carried. A grief for Derek? For John Henry? For Cameron? No. For John Connor. Until this very moment, I hadn't realized that Judgement Day came for John Connor very personally, before it came for anyone else. Losing all the other people he cared about, and with his very own personal 9/11 marking the beginning of the end, he was finally ready to lose his mother.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-17 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hradzka.livejournal.com
Posted, yay! This is really nice work, and I like the final polish you put on it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-22 01:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixtii.livejournal.com
This is absolutely ecellent. I love the level of poignancy you achieve as you describe Cameron's systematic efficiency, doing what needs to be done.

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