DISCLAIMER: Not mine, just playing. I promise to put them back when I'm done with them. Too bad, I would really like to keep Grace for myself.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Yes, I've been absent for a very long time. Many reasons, mainly life and having to make a living. It's a long story from a galaxy far, far away. A long time ago, perhaps in the beginning of the century, 2002 or 2003, I re-wrote the first Terminator movie making Sarah Connor the hero and Reese a woman. That story is online here: http://www.ralst.com/Terminator.HTM It's an unedited stream of consciousness and is also perhaps one of my first fanfictions. Lots and lots and lots of mistakes were made in it. I decided not to edit it. (I'm too lazy, actually.) Remember when you read it that I was younger and English was not my best language to write in. English is my best language to write in now, by far. I am a 'Third Culture Kid' if that helps explain things a little and my birth culture is not English speaking. All of this matters and yet it does not matter. Enjoy the new and the old story. Feed the author.
SPOILERS: Yes, everything and probably several of the other movies too.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Terminator - Dark Fate
By The Raven
"Is she ready?" The Commander asked in a tight, hard voice.
"Yes. We've pumped her full of meds, she's eaten and drank as much as she wanted." The reply was instant. Nobody ever delayed in replying to The Commander, though it was not out of fear, it was out of absolute and total respect.
The Commander only nodded before retreating back into silent thought, wishing that there was more privacy at a time like this. There was never enough privacy. Sometimes it was too much really, she needed some time to think after all, but most of the time it was easy to remember the billions who had died and concerns about privacy were trivial.
The soldier was brought in. Tall, lean, beautifully serious. There was an energy in her movements and she had a gaze that stilled everyone in the room. This woman, the volunteer that would perhaps save them all, said nothing and her expression, save for vibrant blue eyes, was blank. The soldier was an intensely private person who had few friends but lots of acquaintances. The Commander was always glad to be included in this short list of friends. It of course helped that The Commander had practically raised this tall blonde woman. However, it was never a given that one would be included in her list of friends, regardless.
Such valour. So brave. Pure even. Like Galahad.
The Commander fought the urge to react in a visible way to the presence of this extraordinary person. She also fought not to react to remembered memories of a lifetime ago. Now was not the time, and after this there would never be another time. There would only be past times. It was a futile wish, to wish for more time. More talking. More moments. There were none left. There was only now and then this moment too would be gone.
So many things unsaid, undone. The sadness was overwhelming.
The Commander watched as techs handed the woman a pot of conductive gel and even in her utter nudity, the soldier managed to be dignified as she applied the unpleasant substance to her body, face, hair. The unpleasant substance would help ensure that nothing important was left behind and perhaps even help shield her from burns and injuries a little. Or so it was hoped, anyway. Too late now, to change anything, the ball had been set rolling and there was no turning back.
Then everything was ready and the Commander looked around, proud of her people and wishing with all of her that today had never come to pass. She had known for two decades that this day would come. Still, somehow she had been able to ignore it, unless it had loomed so big that it could no longer be ignored at all.
"Please give us a moment." The softly spoken words were heard by everyone in the room. The Commander never had to raise her voice, only in battle, only.
Everyone knew that the soldier was ready to travel back in time to protect and save the Commander and who would be most likely sacrificed to save the one person who would be instrumental in saving them all. The Commander had never spoken of it publicly, but everyone knew it to be so. They all knew the history, at least the bare bones of it anyway.
The room emptied in a heartbeat. No one ever made The Commander wait, unless it was necessary that is. Some sort of apocalyptic thing would have to happen again for anyone to make Commander Dani Ramos wait for anything.
"Grace." The Commander said in a softer voice. The weight of that one word weighed so heavily, it meant so much. It was too much. It hurt too much.
The soldier looked up and their eyes met. For a moment in time nothing else existed. Only the two of them. So much left unsaid, things that never would be said, ever.
"I volunteered." Grace finally said, her voice steady, strong. The sound scratched out The Commander's heart and left a bloody wound in its place. The jagged edges ached terribly and she knew somehow that it would never heal.
"I know. That does not make me feel any better." The Commander replied with a heavy voice.
"Dani. You have to live. If you don't, we all die." Grace said as she stepped towards the diminutive woman standing before her. The weight of years and responsibility showed on the older woman's face, but to Grace there had never been, nor would there ever be anyone more beautiful than Daniela Ramos, their Commander. The woman who had saved her, Grace, when she was just a child.
"I know." Daniela. A tear glided down her cheek and she angrily wiped it away. She would never be able to control herself completelly around Grace. Ever...
How many times had this happened already? Was this the first time she had sent Grace back in time? Was it the hundredth? They would never know and it did not matter. Grace would most likely sacrifice herself to save her, Daniela, the saviour of the future and there was precious little that Dani could do about it. Or she saved the future, and let Grace possibly sacrifice herself, or there would be no future. It was enough to give her a headache and none of it made her feel any better.
The two women locked eyes for a long moment, alone for the last time. No words were needed, none could ever express what was needed. Words right now would be pointless. They had a history that spanned time itself, but right now that history was condensed into this moment alone.
Daniela had raised Grace, protected her when it was needed, trained her when it was no longer needed. Sent her out on death defying missions knowing it was needed, and when Daniela herself had woken from a serious injury some time ago, she had also seen that there was no denying the future history of them both. Grace had been augmented. Another piece of the puzzle would fall into place. Another piece had been inserted into the savage puzzle and it was almost complete. Almost done.
She had also shown herself to be one of the exceptional augments. Many fought themselves, Grace only fought terminators and accepted herself easily. There was no torment with her dual nature and she did not recoil from the machine that was her now. Dani had done her best to psychologically train the young girl and young woman to this ends, and now as she watched this more mature woman in front of her, she was eternally glad that it had worked.
Daniela took time to take Grace in. Scars from battle, scars from augmentation, the angry red tattoo with vital coordinates at her waist. So beautiful. It broke Dani's heart.
"It's time." Dani said as the room started to fill again and Grace turned away, walking easily a smoothly to the raised dais where the as yet inert machine hummed in readiness.
There was nothing else to say, everything had already been said thousands of times and a few thousand more.
There was a flurry of activity and then everything happened too fast and too follow. The last thing Daniela saw before Grace vanished was the soldier mouthing to her, 'I love you', and then there was nothing.
Silence. The smell of something hot and unwashed bodies and dust and electricity.
Daniela surmised that Grace had succeeded in her mission. They were still here after all. How many times had this happened? The uncertainty of her situation gauged at Dani as she fought to remain strong in front of her people.
However, Grace was still gone.
"I love you too." Daniela muttered in a low voice before turning away and walking out of the room. The mass of people parted like the Red Sea before Moses.
"Make sure everything is destroyed." She said quietly to an aide before turning to the cadre of bodyguards who were flanked around her. "I need a few minutes."
The men and women sworn to die for her stopped and gave their beloved Commander the space she asked for.
Daniela sought out the one person who would understand, the only one who could possibly understand. Leaving the main area of the Legion complex they were in, she walked through strange rooms never meant for humans to see, or to walk in.
Eventually she found who she was looking for. Surrounded by a bodyguard of her own, the seasoned soldier who had seen it all several times seemed to sense Dani's approach. They had such a long history together that it was only natural, Daniela knew this.
"She's gone?" The gravelly voice asked, while the ancient face betrayed almost nothing. Daniela nodded, feeling her composure crack.
"Wait outside, please." The grizzled solder asked. The bodyguards seemed to run from the room, no doubt startled by the word, please. Their charge never said please, rarely said thank you and mostly just swore at everything and everyone. Regardless, the grumpy older soldier was well loved and liked by most.
Daniela could feel herself start to collapse and gratefully accepted strong arms around her, arms that had held her and protected her for decades now. They belonged to the only person who knew exactly what was going on in Daniela's mind and soul right now.
"Sarah." Daniela said softly, unable to say anything else.
The face that looked at her was full of warmth and sympathy, despite the fact that Sarah had long ago lost an eye, had scars and had become very old indeed. She had refused any prosthesis that came from Legion, though Legion tech had saved her life when it was threatened by cancer or injury.
They knew each other and Sarah had also done her part to ensure that Daniela survived to save the future. Had taught her everything and then rejoiced when the student surpassed the teacher.
When Dani had found Grace in the rubble, they had discussed whether to involve Sarah directly in the girl's life. "Perhaps we'd better not, when we met her decades ago I was not who I am now. Better to let them resolve it as they will. Anyway, I have nothing to teach her that you don't know." Sarah did have a way with words, though she spoke very little to anyone except Dani and one of her more grizzled bodyguards who was almost Sarah's own age.
Daniela cried finally. Letting it out. Letting herself feel what was needed to get it out of her system. In a few minutes, she would need to be The Commander again, but for now she was just Dani. Broken hearted again, damned again to watch someone leave and not be able to do anything about it.
No fate but what we make, indeed. Sometimes it was a mantra that she could barely believe in, like today.
Sarah's arms held her securely and for some precious moments, she was just Dani.
Sarah seemed to sense when Dani was ready. "Let's go and see." The gnarled hand grabbed hers with perfect tenderness and led her out of the room to her future.
Daniela was unsure that she had the strength, but she would know soon enough.
Chapter 1: Mexico City, 2020
When she emerged into this world, it was just as well that she was knocked unconscious almost at once. The first convulsions and moments blurred and dulled. It gave her time to acclimatise before the hard and harsh returned. Time for her synthetic blood to repair damage, ease pain, mitigate shock.
Time. It was a luxury that Grace could not remember ever having. Her childhood was a vague blur of disjointed memories. She could barely remember a single thing before Judgement Day.
Now looking over the scene, police officers scattered like the toys of an angry child, while the two stunned civilians could only gape in astounded shock. Grace took a breath to calm down and as she analysed the situation, an automatic systems check told her that she was operating well within acceptable parameters. Some food, some water, some rest and she would be as new. Hopefully.
Grace took her bearings. Her inner chronometer told her the day and year were correct. Even the hour was correct, down to the second. Her inner positioning system told her the location was correct. She was also aware of the already healing bruises on her body and the rough, filthy riverbank under her feet.
Clothes, weapons, transport. She should probably try to get clean as well, there was a distinct whiff of sewage in the filth that covered her body. Funny how after even decades of deprivation, the human mind could long for simple comforts.
Moment later, now armed with confiscated police guns and not-so-borrowed car and clothes, Grace floored it and sped away from the scene of her chaotic arrival. She had not wanted to take what she needed from the young couple, but she had no choice. Either she succeeded or they too would die. A few hours without clothes and having to get a new car would be a small price to pay for their lives.
The two civilians were still agape, this she could see in the rearview mirror as she drove. Perhaps tomorrow they would agree that it had all been a mutual hallucination.
The synthetic hormones in her synthetic blood were making it hard to focus and she needed a place to rest and regroup. Tomorrow was another day and she already knew when and where to be, who to look for and what to expect. In a few short hours she needed to be at maximum capacity.
She needed money. Puling over at an ATM, she stepped out of her stolen car and examined the machine. Grace was augmented with Legion Tech, this simple machine stood no chance. In moments Grace had the pesos she needed and was gone like she had never been there at all.
She knew her mission and she would not fail. The lives of untold billions depended on her success, but Grace was selfish. The reality was that she cared only for the one life she was assigned and sworn to save at any cost, including the ultimate price of paying with her own life.
Grace hoped that she did not need to die to protect Dani, but she would if need be. Happily and without regret.
In short order Grace found a fleabag motel and pulled in. Money was the universal language, which made her happy for once as right now she knew speaking fluent, perfect Mexican Spanish without an accent, when she was oh so white, could possibly arouse suspicions.
Opening the door to the motel room, Grace surmised that it was a good thing that she had all her vaccines and shots up to date, never mind a synthetic immune system. Again, considering some of the filth and hellish things she had seen and been in post Judgement Day, this was heaven.
A brief hot shower, a stomach full of fatty junk food and a couple litres of water followed by strong coffee and she felt human again. Her borrowed clothes seemed clean enough, so she simply put them on again before checking over her cache of weapons.
Against terminators these weapons would do nothing, but perhaps it would be enough to stun such a terminator when the need arose.
Time to rest. Grace ignored the bed and curled up on the sofa, her inner chronometer would wake her up in exactly three hours. It was more than enough time to finish recharging and it was the first danger-free sleep that Grace had experienced in over two decades anyway.
Daniela Ramos was a happy young woman. More serious and responsible than normal for a person of her age, but happy. People easily liked her, and easily followed her lead, she had a magnetism that did not fail to attract and inspire those around her.
To the people who knew and loved her, Daniela was a charming and energetic person, always the light of the room and always the one you paid the most attention to. To people who did not know her, she was a mystery, and was even intimidating, which considering her tiny frame and diminutive height, was somewhat amusing to her.
Right now it was just past dawn and she was out getting breakfast from her favourite street food seller. In the morning crush and rush it was a much simpler and more efficient option than trying to cook at home. No dishes, no clean up, no fuss. Just how she liked it, Daniela did appreciate the simple life, she had learned to out of sheer obligation and found that she enjoyed it.
Since her mother had died and she had been forced to give up her studies at University, Dani had shown herself to be very adept at life. There was some adage about lemons and lemonade that applied, but she could not remember it right now. It was no good crying over things that she could not have. She would never have her old life back, and going to the States was not an option. Perhaps for herself and her brother, but her father was a proud man and he would never adapt. For now, it is what it is and she was happy with her simple life.
Quickly climbing the stairs that led to the modest apartment that she shared with her brother and her father, the only thing occupying her mind was the day ahead. What needed to be done, when and where.
Some brief and pleasant chaos, and soon she and her brother were on their way to work, lunch in hand and arm in arm.
Two young people with their whole lives ahead of them.
Daniela had an uncommon love for her brother. Perhaps because he was so innocent. Anyway, he was a great guy and Dani really hoped that he would learn to focus on something other that girls and the internet sometime soon. He really needed to grow up.
Even the dingy bus that they rose could summit damped Dani's enthusiasm. Today was going to be a special day, for sure. It was only when they arrived at work and she noticed that there was a robot in her brother, Diego's station that her mood darkened.
Even the shift supervisor cringed when Dani interrogated him about this new development. Nobody wanted to be the centre of Dani's attention when she was mad. Nobody could bear it, there was something special about Dani Ramos, she commanded the attention and focus of all those who came in contact with her.
Gone were the happy thoughts of perhaps being able to splurge on a book later on before going home, now she was all business and she meant business.
Daniela may have been young, small, female, but nobody messed with the people she loved. Her father had once said that she was very much like her mother in that way. Daniela was pleased with the comparison and now she was going to use these attributes to figure out just what the hell was happening in this factory and why machines were suddenly taking over jobs that people needed to have.
It only took her ten minutes to fully interrogate her boss and while she was not happy with the solution that she had, at lease it was something. Then, without warning too many things happened at once.
Dani was coming back from her bosses office. Her father was standing near Diego with lunch bags in his hand. Daniela thought there was something weird about how he was standing. Was he wearing cowboy boots? He seemed taller. his expression was unfamiliar, like nothing she had ever seen before. It was alien and it frightened and confused her.
Why was he looking at her like that?
Then he turned and Dani saw him raise his hand as if in greeting, but there was something black, big and heavy in his hand. It looked like a gun. It was pointed at her. She could not recognise his face at all then and then her world shattered into a million pieces as she heard booming shots ring out.
It seemed as if someone had opened all the doors to hell all at once.
Her father staggered and half turned and even more shots rang out. Daniela reacted automatically, running screaming towards her father when a tall figure appeared as if from nowhere and emptied a seemingly gigantic gun directly into the face of her father.
What the hell? What the fuck? What?!
Before she could react further, the tall person turned to her and spoke. It was a woman. A very tall woman with piercing bright blue eyes that seemed to look into Dani's soul.
"That's not your father." At least that is what Dani thought she heard. The woman said something else, but it was lost in the din and noise and confusion of the moment. Dani's brain was frozen in the moment where her father raised the big black gun to shoot at her.
And she was too busy looking at her 'father' to pay enough attention.
A black, inhuman skull and glowing red eyes stared back at her. Dani could not believe her senses. Was she asleep and this was some sort of nightmare? If so she really wanted to wake up soon and right now would be great, thanks.
The tall woman pulled on her arm and practically carried her and Diego away from the violent scene. Dani heard the woman say that if she did not comply they would be dead in thirty seconds. Daniela knew the words to be true, even though she had no idea what was going on and what was that thing back there.
At this point Dani's brain seemed to be shutting down. It was all a little impossible to absorb. How was this happening? What was going on?
Who was this woman, this gringa? What had happened to her simple and calm and boring life?
How was this possible? What the fuck was going on?
Chapter 2 - Rev-9
Grace was in full combat mode. No time to think. Only to protect and react. There was only room for survival. Escape, evade. Hopefully yesterday's tanking up would allow her to last today. She could feel the power that the overload of synthetic hormones gave her. Her arms easily half-carried the two young people, dragging them along as she went into full escape and evasion mode. The microprocessor that had been married to her brain was working overtime analysing, providing options.
There would be hell to pay later, but for now, there was only this. Survive at all costs, period.
Enhanced hearing allowed her to hear the Terminator. She could feel the vibrations of the unnaturally heavy body moving unnaturally fast. The lack of breathing. The lack of sweat, no heartbeat no circulation, nothing human. The lack of fear all mixing together to tell her almost supernatural senses that everything was wrong.
It was ridiculously easy to track, even a non augment could detect them if trained to do so. There was no way of faking a human, no way. Hopefully Legion never figured out what truly made a human, human. If it ever did, they were well and truly fucked in a very bad way.
Grace grabbed up a twelve pound sledgehammer and went on the offensive. It was gaining an Dani and her brother were too slow, too helpless for her to escape. She would need to fight the terminator. Hopefully she would survive. Failure was just not an option. The adrenalin in her body would have made a regular human pass out, thankfully Grace's systems were able to handle it. She was not a regular human, had she ever been? She had never felt regular...
When the weight of the hammer slammed into the terminator, propelled by her cybernetic strength the transfer to her hands and arms would have broken her bones had she not had the augmentations that she did. Bones and joins and ligaments strained with each blow. Grace's heart would have pounded out of her chest by now, had it not been augmented as well inside her armoured ribcage.
Again and again the hammer fell, again and again Grace was sure her arms would break and was glad when they did not. The machine's liquid metal half grabbed onto the hammer and in an instant was on its feet and broke the handle.
Grace was certain that she had not even dented the terminator's metal skull. She knew she had not. You could drop a bomb on a Rev-9 and nothing would happen.
They needed to get out. They had to put distance between them and the machine as soon as possible and she needed meds, soon.
"Behind me!" She ordered in a voice that was used to being obeyed.
Grace could smell Dani and Diego, their sweat and fear. hear their violent breathing. She could hear their hearts beating. It was comforting, it was good. For Grace the musk of humanity was a fine perfume to be rejoiced in.
No time to think. Only react. She was sworn to protect Dani at all costs. It was an unnecessary oath. She would die for Dani without a regret in her body.
Somehow she had to do the impossible. Stand against a Rev-9 Terminator and come out victorious. In all her training, pre and post augmentation, she had never actually had to stand head to head with a Rev-9. This would be the ultimate test, and if she failed they would all die. They could not die, Dani could not die.
Synthetic hormones flooded her systems again. They dulled pain, fear, lactic acid buildup. They allowed her to fight the inhuman. They permitted stamina and speed that was inhuman. Grace reacted, no thought in her movements.
The Rev-9's murderous intent frightened her. When it's blade pierced her makeshift shield and cut her arm, Grace barely noticed. Her systems sent an army of nanites to repair the damage and mitigate any infection or blood loss. Automatic systems, a synthetic immune system.
Grace fought her desperate battle alone, somehow avoiding being fatally stabbed, somehow overpowering the monster and somehow it was pinned, if only for a moment. How had she managed to do that? She automatically tracked Dani and her brother in the periphery of her consciousness.
Perhaps love was a better motivator than logic. Perhaps a human heart and brain were better, perhaps.
"Grace. My name is Grace." She announced loudly after the Rev-9 was pinned, if only for some moments in the press. Her systems were burning up and again they flooded with synthetic hormones. She was way past the limit of her tolerances and who knew when this would end. She had to keep going, everything was at stake, but most of all, Dani's life was at stake.
"That won't kill it!" Grace continued as she gathered up her charges and practically carried them out of the factory.
Grace was still in shock from seeing a Dani almost twenty years younger than the one she knew in the future. Dani was only a little younger now than she had been when Grace had been a child in the ruins. Dani was younger than Grace was here in this time, but older than her in the future. It was all so peculiar and hard to absurd. Thankfully the Dani that Grace knew had warmed her about what to expect, how it might feel and even given her tips about how to deal with it.
The soldier batted aside her distracted thoughts, even if they had only occupied a second or two of time. Time was never a luxury and could not be wasted.. The press would only pin the terminator, it would not stop it, nor would it kill it. They had only minutes. They had perhaps only seconds. Maybe a lifetime. If there was a God, only God knew how much time they had.
Dani had told her that they would succeed, Grace only hoped that she would be able to rise to the occasion.
This was all much too surreal. Dani was too surreal.
As they ran, she surmised that later, assuming they survived, she would get over it. Seeing Dani right now, here, in this time.
Dani has the same scent now as she did in the future. Grace's superhuman olfactory sense told her this. Warm, human, female. If only there was some way of putting it into a bottle to keep forever. Grace had long ago accepted that for her, there was no more perfect being, no other woman, no room for anyone except for Dani in her heart. This was the Dani of the future, only in her past, so it stood to reason that Grace would love her, be in love with her now, as well. Grace had accepted that she loved Dani, was in love with her since Grace had been an adolescent. Grace lived for Dani.
Grace's nerves needed no calming, synthetic hormones took care of everything, but had they needed it, Dani's scent would have calmed her nerves.
Time to go.
Her charges were getting inpatient for answers. She'd have to come up with something soon enough. Hopefully they lived for the next few minutes that is. Hopefully the answers that she had would be good enough. Hopefully she would live to give them.
Dani has so much adrenalin in her body that she felt dizzy and sick. Only the keen instinct of self preservation was keeping her going. somehow she knew if she tripped or hesitated they would die.
She knew that if she stumbled, if she fell, she would die. Diego would die. She kept running. She felt no pain, no breathlessness. Adrenaline was a marvellous thing. Dani knew she would feel something later, if there ever was a later, that is.
The woman, who she now knew was called Grace was practically carrying them out of the factory and throwing them into a truck that was parked outside. She seemed very kind, but the urgency of her movements and demands left no doubt in Dani's mind that questions would have to wait until later. Dani had seem the woman fight the thing, if anything, she knew that she was in capable hands.
Dani has seen the thing that was attacking them. It was not human, it was pure murder. The devil had spawned something that Dani could not comprehend.
How was it possible? Why was this happening. She needed to know, but everything was going at breakneck speed. No time to know.
She had also seen Grace fight the thing. Inhuman reflexes and strength. Did that mean that Grace was also a machine? Dani could see sweat pouring off of the other woman's body. Did machines sweat? Dani could smell the musk of the heat of battle, could see a pulse beating in Grace's throat. All of that did not explain what she had seen Grace do, however.
The blonde woman tore out the ignition of the truck and jammed a screwdriver into the mechanism. Despite the extreme danger and hormonal confusion that she was in, Daniela could not help but admire the ease and skill she saw in the deceptively slim hands of this gringa. There was no hesitation at all. Why was she noticing this now? An eye for detail, she would have made an excellent historian, as she had planned, when her mother was still alive. When everything had seemed possible.
"I am human, just augmented." The word was almost foreign to Dani and yet she understood it and accepted it after Diego had noticed that Grace was more than human. Somehow. It made sense. In its own insane way.
No time to think. Murder was after them. The impossible was happening. A machine that could look like her father was after them. Too many questions. Dani wondered if they had answers.
In seconds they were out of the parking lot and in a few more seconds the murderous devil thing had found them. Barrelling down on them in an enormous truck with the single minded goal of their elimination. Dani had seen the press crush the thing, she had heard Grace say that it was not dead. Only now did it really sink in, however. Was it possible to kill this machine?
"I'm also from the future..." Daniela heard the words come out of Grace's mouth but their meaning was almost lost to her. Grace had finished telling them that the thing chasing them was a machine, a Rev-9 that had been sent from the future to kill them.
Daniela could see where the woman's skin was injured, torn. Some sort of golden coloured mesh tinged dark red with blood was visible. The mesh looked warm, organic. Dani was happy to note that it did not scare her.
Enhanced? Augmented? Future? Time travel? What did it all mean?
What the hell did it all mean and more importantly, what the hell did it have to do with her? With Diego? She was nobody, no one. Insignificant. Nothing.
"You're my mission, Dani!" Grace was explaining. Her voice harsh. Somehow Dani knew that Grace was used to saying her name. She also felt an ominous shadow pass over her when Grace said that she, Dani was the mission. She did not know why, but she knew that it was true. She knew that Grace was not lying.
The truck shuddered and groaned as the never ending assaults from machine and dump-truck continued. Grace drove with the same insane reflexes that she fought with. Dani was too scared to be scared anymore.
It was insane. Yet somehow Dani knew that it was all true. Some part of her knew that everything mattered, that this was really happening. Somehow.
In a few more seconds Grace had climbed out of the speeding truck and was in the back and Diego was driving. Daniela could only half see what was going on, but when she saw the machine turn itself into liquid she almost forgot how to breathe, the shock was so great.
What happened next was just a blur. The truck had stopped and Dani had a terrible feeling that something was horribly wrong. Grace was laying immobile on the road and a sharp metallic taste filled the truck cabin. Pungent, nauseating.
Blood. Mixed with something sinister, visceral. It was too dark.
Dani instantly recognised it and a few heartbeats later realised that it was coming from her brother who had been impaled when the truck had crashed.
In an instant Grace was up and back at her side. The blonde woman was also bloodied, filthy.
"He'll bleed out." Grace explained desperately as she looked at Diego with sadness when Dani had demanded that she help him.
Daniela saw the moment when her brother accepted his death. "Take her. Save her." Diego had gasped out, she heard Grace say "I'm sorry" and could hear that the blonde woman truly was sorry. Dani forgave her, even though in her heart she raged against Grace for making the choice that she did.
She would never forget the feeling of Grace pulling her bodily from the car and the protecting her from the tremendous explosion that followed.
It was too much.
Dani's heart broke and her brain went numb as her body continued to react to the primal instincts of flight or fight.
Diego was dead.
What the hell was going on?
"Why didn't you save him." Dani screamed.
The words cut through Grace's heart. She knew that Dani was just angry. It still hurt. It hurt like hell, more than the beating that she had just taken. It was ok, though. She loved Dani and for Dani she would take any pain, including this one.
"Come on. We have to leave or he died for nothing." Grace insisted.
Daniela turned and seemed to react to those words.
Grace needed meds. Desperately. Her body was overwhelmed and needed to rest and heal.
They ran short distance. Would they make it? Could they make it?
A metal bar hit the road in front of them, only not impaling them because Grace was able to react in time.
Terminators didn't miss.
Grace had read reports that Rev-9 terminators seemed to enjoy the kill, rather than simply killing mechanically, without emotion. She had heard chilling reports, from survivors, from witnesses. She surmised that it was to make the human population even more fearful and helpless. Some insane cat and mouse game.
"Shit." Grace exclaimed as the metal endoskeleton and the liquid metal monster turned their attentions towards her and Dani.
"When they start to kill me, you run." Grace said desperately as she yanked the metal bar from the hot road, ready to face her fate.
"What..." Dani's question was interrupted by the screeching of tires and the heavy thud of a car hitting metal.
The endoskeleton crumpled to the ground and out of the maroon coloured 4x4 that had just half-saved their ass stepped a small woman with huge sunglasses.
Grace could only watch agape as this small woman raised a gun larger then herself and starred to shoot the liquid metal half of the Rev-9. Each shot was devastating and none of them missed, even as the Rev-9 ran towards them at inhuman speed. As if seeming to realise that it was going to be denied it's playtime, the monster started to run faster towards her and Dani with hands transformed into wicked blades designed only to kill. Again and again the massive percussion of the gun as it fired and just at the last moment the running horror fell over the guard rail and out of sight.
Grace turned her head towards the woman in the large sunglasses who was now raising an RPG and aiming for the endoskeleton which had gotten up and was running towards them, intent on killing them.
The blast was massive and for a moment there was a defending silence in gigantic contrast to the chaos that had been just moments ago. The endoskeleton was momentarily stopped in its tracks. Grace did not know for how many minutes or seconds, they had to leave. They had to run. She needed meds. Who was this woman?
The woman dropped the spent RPG and walked towards them with purpose in her step.
Was it some other sort of terminator? Perhaps a geriatric version?
The woman pulled the pins from two grenades she was holding and threw them over the guardrail.
"I'll be back." The voice was graveled by whiskey? Cigarettes? Tears? RPGs? Who knew?
Grace could feel herself start crashing as they watched aghast while the woman disappeared over the edge.
"Who the fuck was that?" Dani said, her voice pure disbelief, echoing Grace's thoughts.
"I have no idea." Grace replied, grabbed Dani and started to pull her towards the 4x4.
"We need to go." Grace insisted.
"What? We can't just leave her here...." Dani said.
Always so fair. So just. Grace thought distractedly.
Grace ignored Dani and loaded them into the 4x4 and started the engine.
They had only minutes before the Rev-9 regrouped itself and she needed meds, water.
She needed these things now!
Chapter 3 - Reality
Daniela Ramos was having the worst day of her life. Her brother was dead. Some, thing, was hunting her. This strange unknown almost inhuman woman had done things that were impossible to protect her and she still had no idea what was going on.
"Dani, I need some water. Can you check the back." Grace's voice sounded slurred which alarmed Dani.
Looking over at her companion Dani could see that the woman was not well. "You're burning up, what's wrong." Dani asked as she felt Grace's arm. Absently she noted that while Grace's skin was soft, Grace herself was not soft at all. She was hard, muscular and Dani could swear that she felt that golden mesh under Grace's skin.
"I'm crashing. My metabolism has been tuned to short, fast bursts. If you don't kill a terminator in the first few minutes, you die. I need meds."
Daniela felt even more alarmed now. "I need to see my father, please take me home." Daniela said. From there she could get whatever these meds were that Grace was talking about.
"That's not going to happen." Grace said succinctly. "I need to tell him Diego is dead. I need to see my father." Daniela insisted, outraged now.
"Your father is dead." Grace said, her words not unkind, just blunt.
"What?" Dani asked, feeling something horrible bloom inside of her heart.
"It needs physical contact to copy someone, and they don't survive." Grace explained as she slumped forward a little.
Dani was horrified and then remembered the factory. The thing had been a copy of her father. It had killed him and copied him.
Now she was alone. Now what would she do?
The car swerved and Grace slumped forward against the wheel as they slid into oncoming traffic.
Desperately Dani grabbed the wheel and shouted Grace's name. It worked. Thankfully...
The woman seemed to perk up and a few moments later they were pulled over.
Dani leapt from the car. Enough of this. She needed to report the death of her brother and father to the police. Something needed to be done.
"Dani, get back the car." Grace slurred as Dani walked from the car. "I have to protect you, Dani please!" Grace called.
"You can't even walk. I am going to the police." Dani yelled back, though her heart constricted at seeing the brave woman who had already saved her life a dozen times holding onto the car for support and pleading.
"You put a hundred cops between you and the Rev-9, you'll have a hundred dead cops. Dani please." Grace gasped, seeming to come to the end of her strength.
Dani slowed at the words. She had seen the monster take an RPG, bullets, metal bars, cars, sledgehammers, and nothing had really even slowed it down. Grace was right. She had to stop reacting and had to start acting.
Moments later she loaded the now semi-unconscious Grace into the 4x4 and drove off. They needed a pharmacy, they needed cover and they needed to know what the fuck was going on and what the hell they needed to do next.
Dani could hear Grace's ragged breathing. Hopefully the woman would be alright. Dani was desperate that Grace would be alright. Otherwise she would be totally alone in this world and who knows what would happen to her then.
Sarah Connor sighed when she heard her 4x4 being driven away. "Sonovabitch!" The two women had gotten in and just driven it off, just as she had saved their asses from whatever terminator this had been. It reminded Sarah of the original terminator and the T1000, apparently it could split into two entities.
Sarah was also pretty sure that she had not killed it. Time to get moving and find the two women and her stuff, stat!
With a tired sigh she started to walk, looking for an opportunity to get her hands on a new vehicle as soon as possible. Her 4x4 had a tracking device linked to her phone, she would find it, and its unwelcome occupants soon enough.
She needed answers. What was the terminator, who was the smaller of the two, and what was the larger of the two. Why now?
Too many questions and it was just too hot now.
Finding a nice looking station wagon, Sarah made quick work of getting herself into it and hot-wiring it before taking a look at her phone. Her car was not far and it seemed to be stationary.
Time to go.
Minutes passed and Sarah pulled up to her 4x4 and found it empty. So far so good. She started to transfer her things to the station wagon and wondered when and if the two would appear. No doubt the 4x4 was already marked. Everyone had a camera nowadays, the police would be looking for it.
Hopefully the two runaways would show up soon.
Sarah could feel her impatience mounting, but then as if on cue, the door of the pharmacy that her 4x4 had been parked by and out popped the smaller of the two women, half dragging, half carrying the larger of the two with the help of some guy.
Well, this was an unexpected development.
"I save your asses and you steal my truck. Nice." Sarah said sarcastically as she finished loading her things and turned to the young woman who was now kneeling beside the taller one.
"I'm..oh..hum.." The smaller woman started to say and Sarah smirked.
"What's wrong with her?" Sarah interrogated harshly as she glanced at the prone woman. The smaller woman shrugged helplessly and it was clear she had no idea.
"Never mind, the truck is marked and I need answers from both of you." Sara concluded and walked up to the smaller woman, pulling the gun that she had under her arm. "I'll take this before you hurt yourself." Sarah said and bent down to pick up the larger woman.
"Ooof, she's heavy." Sarah exclaimed as they manhandled the tall blonde into the back of the station wagon.
"Let's go." Sarah said in a sharp tone.
Suddenly, for the first time in twenty years, she felt purpose enter her life again. These two were key pieces to a puzzle that she wanted to solve and somewhere there was a terminator hunting them.
For the first time in a long time Sarah also did not feel the pull of being passed out drunk, of drink, of oblivion.
She felt alive and it felt good.
Chapter 4 - New Friends
Grace was dreaming while her cybernetic systems desperately tried to mitigate the problems of her overloading systems. Even without meds, there was some degree of recovery from crashing.
She was flashing back to the day she volunteered to become an Augment. They had been evacuating the wounded Commander and just at the end of their journey, near the base, they had been attacked by a devastating horde of terminators. Critically wounded, Grace had been able to protect the Commander until they had gotten into the base, where in the last vestiges of her consciousness she had volunteered to become an Augment.
What was an Augment?
They had opened her up, peeled her skin back and had worked for endless hours to adapt her human organism to accept enhancements.
Reinforcement for her bones. Artificial sinews, tendons and ligaments. Cybernetic muscle fibres. Armoured cages around critical organs, a supplementary pump for her heart, lungs that could more easily withstand inhaling chemicals, toxins, she could hold her breath without struggle for twenty minutes.
Her power source was installed as well as onboard computer systems that worked in conjunction with her eyes, her ears and other senses. Cables, artificial blood that contained all that was needed to maintain her systems not to mention the ability to replicate itself as needed, should Grace suffer critical blood volume loss, nano-bots to repair damage, enhanced kidneys and liver to deal with toxic overflows. Her fingers had computer ports in them to allow her to access data from external devices as needed. Her memory had been loaded with every possible instruction manual, training guide and tutorial for every possible vehicle, weapon and scenario that made sense. If need be, Grace could make a spear from stone, or fly a stealth bomber.
In the last attack of the terminators before she became an augment, her reproductive organs were damaged, so they were removed as well, though ovaries remained, seen as an important and useful part of her body chemistry as a whole.
She also had armour under her skin. Flexible kevlar-like material that could protect her from even serious lacerations and puncture attempts. Her skin itself was reinforced.
Her skull and spinal cord, her vertebrae, trachea, everything, was reinforced and her brain cushioned against even severe shock.
Grace had been kept in a medically induced coma for the period of recovery where she healed. Otherwise she would have gone mad as no pain medication was sufficient to block the pain of having had all of your skin peeled off, never mind the rest of it.
Then, months of accommodation, training and adaptation. She had been drilled at human strength, and at augmented strength. Her ability to take in information meant that her mental capabilities were almost without limit, especially as she could chose to edit or delete information she deemed unnecessary or in need of modification.
The physical training had been the most brutal. Grace had shown herself to be a very good adept, the best of her class. However, she preferred not to think of the brutal training that she had received.
As if heeding her request, her dreams now moved on to more benign things, she remembered Dani's face in private moments and as she recovered, her thoughts calmed if only for a moment.
"How did you know how much to give her?" Dani asked Sarah.
The older woman looked up at her and simply said, "I don't." Perhaps she had simply added what would fit into the syringe she was now hovering over Grace with. There was a murky mixture in the body of the syringe and made Dani nervous.
They had no choice though. Grace needed meds and had selected them herself, all injectable.
It made sense.
Now they would have to wait and see.
Daniela realised that her hands were still caked with Diego's blood and hurried to the bathroom while Sarah dumped more ice onto Grace's body.
Glancing at the bathtub, Dani had to agree, the bed was a better place, regardless of the ice.
Watching the blood wash of her hands and swirl down the drain made Daniela cry. Her brother was dead, her father too.
All she had was some sort of woman from the future and some sort of woman from the past.
Sarah was not unsympathetic to Dani's plight, but she had already lost so many, that she had not been able to say goodbye to, had not been able to bury.
The young woman had cried about funerals and saying goodbye and Sarah had felt inadequate when responding, "Funerals won't help them and goodbyes won't help you..."
She tried to remember her goodbye to John, so many years ago. She could still only just barely tolerate thinking about her murdered son.
Never mind Kyle, even more years ago. The wounds ached with a distant pain.
Turning her attention back to Dani, she spoke, "Would you go get us some snacks. Your Spanish will arouse less suspicion than mine. I saw a store down the way." The woman lying on the bed would probably kill her when she found out that she had sent Dani out, but they needed to talk and Sarah could see signs that Grace was waking up.
Dani simply nodded and moments later Sarah was alone with her, patient.
Grace was beautiful. The scars on her body did nothing to detract from that. Sarah observed that the injury to Grace's abdomen and the one on her shoulder had almost healed. The scar tissue looked nasty, but it was quite remarkable, nonetheless.
Sarah wanted to know about the future that Grace came from. Was it the future with Skynet, or was it some other thing, some other horror. Who was Daniela Ramos and why was a super-terminator hunting her. So many questions, so few answers and they had to get going soon, their only hope was to stay on the move.
Grace's eyelids fluttered and Sarah raised her gun, just in case Grace was also a terminator. They were infiltrators after all, this could all be just a very elaborate ruse.
Sarah had learned to be even more careful in the last twenty years. Moments of carelessness had taken from her the only thing that mattered to her.
Consciousness came back unpleasantly for Grace, though an automatic systems check told her that she was well within operating parameters, it also told her that she was dehydrated, needed to eat, had to empty her bladder and more meds were needed.
In the few hundredths of a second that this information had taken to glean and process, her enhanced senses also told her that she was not alone, there was a human in the room with her. She could smell gun oil and by the pace of respiration of the person, she knew that they were female.
Grace opened her eyes, instantly scanning the room.
"Talk. Talk fast." The gravely voice of the women from the bridge was not reassuring, and neither was the gun that she held in her hands, pointed directly at Grace.
Grace reacted, faster than the woman could move and in a heartbeat had the older woman pinned against the wall of the dingy motel room they were in.
"You first." Grace said in a threatening tone, holding the heavy gun in her hand, ready to use it if needed.
"Get off me!" The pinned woman said angrily and Grace relented.
She then became aware of a furious knocking on the door of the motel room and of Dani's voice demanding to be let in.
Keeping the gun trained loosely on the woman, Grace hurried to open the door and almost swooned with relief to see Dani intact and apparently quite well on the other side of it.
The smaller woman instinctively embraced Grace and for a moment the soldier allowed herself to revel in the sensation, in the warmth and softness that was Daniela Ramos.
The older was looking at them both in an inscrutable way.
"You're different from the others. Almost human." The woman mused as she sat down on the bed. "I am human, just enhanced." Grace retorted angrily, tempted to pistol whip the older woman just for having left Dani alone outside for god knows how long.
"It means I can rip your throat out if you piss me off, so don't." Grace added for extra emphasis, still keeping herself between the other woman and Dani.
"Who sent you?" The older woman asked in a conversational way. Grace just shook her head. It was not something that she could reveal yet.
"Okay, when are you from?" Another question in a bland tone, like asking a time traveller when they were from was equal to asking for a menu. It was obvious that this woman, had some experience in these matters.
"2042." Grace replied succinctly, finally relaxing a little. The older woman might be quite the eccentric, but it clear that at the moment she was not a threat.
"Who are you?" Grace demanded, wanting answers immediately if not sooner. She was feeling impatient, she had to pee, she needed more meds, she was hungry, they had to go, there was no time for this crap
The older woman signed a little and then began to speak. "My name is Sarah Connor. When I was about her age," Sarah Connor waived her hand in Dani's direction, "a terminator was sent back to kill me to stop me from giving birth to my son, John, who would become the leader of the resistance." Sarah paused to take a breath.
"Which resistance?" Grace asked in an interrogatory tone.
"The human resistance." Sarah rolled her eyes, as if this was somehow obvious information. "We managed to stop Skynet from happening. You know, the AI that is hunting us all?" Grace had never heard of this Skynet, though she did know of an AI hunting humans. "Never heard of it." Grace said succinctly, wanting Sarah to get to the end of the story so they could decide what to do next.
They had to leave, it was only a matter of time before the Rev-9 found them again.
If Grace, the enhanced human had never heard of Skynet, then what was going on, Sarah pondered.
"Where is your son now?" The question dug into Sarah like a hot poker.
Would she answer? Could she?
"Skynet sent more than one terminator to hunt John. Eventually one caught up with us about twenty years ago. Since he died, I hunt terminators and I drink until I black out." Sarah could hardly believe the words as they left her mouth.
Had she ever shared any of this with anyone, ever?
Sarah did not see even the slightest flicker of emotion on Grace's face, but Dani looked sad for her. No doubt Grace had seen too many die and could barely react anymore.
"Good enough of a resume for you?" Sarah asked, acid in her voice.
"No." Grace responded flatly. Sarah could not bring herself to be surprised. Grace was a consummate professional after all, it was not her job to coddle Sarah. Her job was to protect Daniela.
"How did you know we would be on that bridge?" Grace demanded.
Sarah was not ready to talk about that yet, instead she stood up. "We have to get going." It was a very true statement. If Sarah knew anything about terminators, it was that they always found you. Always.
"There is no we." Grace said angrily.
While she packed, Sarah explained succinctly that they would not survive 10 hours without her. Neither one really knew a thing about this world that they lived in. How easy it was to spy on, track, and keep tabs on people.
Eventually Grace relented, for a moment. They all used the bathroom, Grace drank at least half a gallon of water and they left the motel room.
"Let's get one thing straight. You put her in danger, or get in my way, I will fuck you up." Grace said this with a coldness that almost masked her emotions. Sarah had no doubt that Grace would fuck her up, badly and surely, should she do something that might harm Dani.
"I drive." Sarah stated and after a few moments they pulled out of the parking lot of the motel and hit the road.
Again, Sarah felt a purpose that she had not felt in twenty years and again, she had no desire to pull out the bottle of Wild Turkey that she had snuggled amongst her equipment.
It was so strange to feel so alive again.
Chapter 5 - Latitude
"You don't fight a Rev-9, you run from it." Grace said emphatically in answer to a question from Sarah. Daniela was very relieved to see that her new friend and ferocious protector was doing much better. Grace had eaten almost all of their snacks and had injected herself with more meds. Daniela could not really understand why she was so relieved but she was.
"Sarah, how did you know we would be on that bridge?" Dani asked the inscrutable older woman after a pause. Perhaps Sarah would after them now.
"i get text messages. Precise coordinates. Dates, times, down to the second. Every text message ends the same way, 'For John.' So I gather up my weapons and go there and out drops a terminator. Same thing two years later. Same ending. For John." Sarah sounded almost frustrated as she talked. "Then two days ago, I got two sets of coordinates and here we are." Sarah finished, looking like she needed a drink.
Dani was young, but she was exceptionally good at reading people.
A few moments later, Dani handed Grace Sarah's phone, curious as to what would happen next.
Without further ado, Grace broke the case of the phone and put her finger onto the SIM card in it. "Future chip." The blonde woman offered.
Daniela was still getting used to the idea that all of this madness was happening to her. It was starting to feel normal and mundane, even.
"A few days ago my Commander had coordinates tattooed onto me. Like I can't remember shit." Grace said, lifting her tank top and revealing a perfectly flat abdomen marked with almost geometric scars, and red numbers tattooed in a straight line. "I was told to go to this location if anything went south with my mission. the text messages you received come from the same location." Grace finished, holding up the decrypted phone display.
"What does it mean?" Dani asked, wanting to know all of the details. "It means we're going to Texas." Grace said simply.
"Wait a minute. You want to illegally cross into the States with an undocumented Mexican national and a woman who had her own episode of America's most wanted?" Sarah was incredulous. Dani almost laughed. She was not surprised that Sarah was wanted in all fifty states, as she had said earlier. Dani could not imagine it any other way, actually. She had decided that she liked Sarah. A lot.
"I know a guy who can get us across." Dani said after a moment. "Do you trust him?" Grace asked quietly. "Yes, he's my uncle." Dani offered.
"Well, we'll need to ditch the car soon, get off the radar." Sarah commented. Dani agreed. The sooner the better. Grade made a noise of approval. Perhaps there was hope with regards to Sarah and Grace getting along. Perhaps.
She gave some directions to the older woman about what to do next. It would be a couple of hours before they would nee to set out on foot. Until then, there was nothing to do except watch the scenery go by and listen to the two women in the front seats plan, snip at each other and occasionally even converse a little.
Grace had become tired of verbally sparring with Sarah. It was obvious that the two of them were never really going to get along very well, though it seemed that they had reached a sort of cease fire of sorts, at least for now. A common goal helped.
She should really start to talk a little to Dani, prepare her for the future. There may be days or weeks, but maybe only hours, to prepare her. It was best that she started soon. With that in mind, Grace climbed into the backseat of the station wagon and sat beside Dani.
"I just wanted to talk to you a little about the future." Grace half shrugged as she turned towards Dani.
She could hear Dani's heartbeat, the flow of blood in her veins. Her respiration. She could smell the accumulation of the day. It soothed Grace, to be close to Dani, even now, in this time, when she was the older one, perhaps the wiser one.
Dani gave her a brilliant smile and for a moment, Grace was glad for the automated systems in her body that kept her breathing even when she forgot how to, for a moment.
Sarah seemed to be wrapped up in her own world, they had a couple of hours before they needed to ditch the car. Now was as good as any time to start.
"Did it hurt?" Dani asked, running her finger gently along one of the scars on Grace's arm.
Grace looked down at the inquisitive finger. "Yes, it did. I volunteered." Grace said softly. "What is it to be augmented, enhanced?" Daniela asked, she seemed genuinely curious and Grace knew that Dani needed to know.
"I'm stronger, quicker, have better endurance. My skin, my bones, my organs, my muscles, even my blood are all part cybernetic." Grace raised her lip with her finger to show Dani one of the more visible aspects of her enhancements. Though capped with resin, all of her teeth were a titanium alloy. "Even my teeth." Grace added. The implants meant that her teeth were very hard to knock out. the alloy was white where it was visible, a clever trick.
Dani leaned forward to get a better look and Grace's heart would have accelerated had it not been for strict protocols keeping it in check.
"Everything?" Dani asked quietly. "Well, yes. I still have my own brain, but I have a processor and memory banks in it. I still have my own heart, but it is armoured and has an auxiliary pump." Grace said a little sheepishly. She was proud of her body, but did not want to seem like a freak to Dani.
"I also have a thorium reactor. To power everything. Um..." Grace trailed off uncomfortably.
"Of course you're still human, Grace. I'm just curious." Dani said, seeming to sense Grace's unease.
Her soft fingers did not stop exploring the scars on Grace's arm and while Grace talked, she was glad that she had processors as concentrating was not so easy with Daniela sitting so close to her, touching her. Being so kind, so alive, so, Dani.
Even from behind the dark sunglasses, Grace would easily see the knowing glance that Sarah gave them. Grace was not angry, though. Sarah had gone so far as to tell them that the father of John had been a soldier who came back to protect her. Sarah, of all people, understood better that anyone else what was going through Grace's mind and heart right now.
Sarah could not help but remember Kyle as she watched Dani and Grace interact with each other. Though it may not have been obvious to the two younger women, it was obvious to chemistry that there was something, a chemistry, a history and a future between them. Sarah was in fact darkly amused by the fact that the two did not seem to be able to keep their hands off each other.
She remembered Kyle. How strong and brave and gentle he had been. How he had died protecting her, given her everything, including a son.
Sarah wondered if Dani would face the same fate that she had, would Grace die protecting her? It was very likely. Sarah felt sad for Dani and vowed then and there that she would do what she could to stay alive and be well to protect and prepare and be a friend to the young woman.
The little she had seen of this Rev-9, the more she realised that it was unlike anything she had faced before. Even the T1000 would have been destroyed or heavily damaged by an RPG, a grenade and such an onslaught of heavy calibre bullets that she had given it.
Grace had assured her that it was likely to be completelly undamaged, or suffering simply a few trivial scratches.
The prospect was intimidating.
The smile that Grace offered Dani made Sarah's heart hurt. It was the first time in a lifetime she had felt anything.
Perhaps Grace would live. Sarah decided then and there that if needed, she would offer her own life to save the blonde woman. Dani deserved what little happiness there was to be had in a situation like hers.
"Ladies, we're getting close." Sarah said just loud enough to be heard above the sounds of the motor and highway.
She did not smoke anymore, but by god did she want a cigarette.
Sarah saw the professional mask once again fall into place as Grace became the super-soldier protector from the future, versus the young woman she had just been a few moments ago.
Was there a possibility of a happier future? Sara's experience told her that there was no chance of a happier future. Did she dare hope, though?
Hopefully these coordinates tattooed to Grace's body and in the text messages of her phone would help them with this goal.
She had nothing else to live for, she may as well live for these two women now.
In a few short moments they had pulled off the road and the car was stopped in an underpass. Sarah was briefly reminded of the underpass that she had spent the first night with Kyle in. Cold, huddled near his warm and strong body. Listening to him talk. Had she ever been so young? So innocent? She could not remember how it felt anymore. She could only remember this eternal fight.
As they stepped out of the car Sarah perceived Grace following her to the back of the station wagon.
"What do you care what happens to her?" Grace asked as she grabbed a duffle bag that Sarah could barely lift. The younger woman hefted it like it weighed nothing and again Sarah was again reminded that Grace, though human, was also machine.
It was a fair question. It was a question she would have asked.
"Because I was her, and it sucks. Besides, I have nothing else to live for, so I might as well live for this." Sarah grabbed her backpack and looked ahead where Dani was impatiently waiting.
Grace seemed to accept her answer and she nodded at Sarah. Something changed then, Sarah decided that perhaps they had reached a sort-of truce now.
Time would tell. She just hoped that they had time.
Chapter 6 - Coyote
It was busy. So many people. Grace was still getting used to the fact that people moved in the daylight, out in the open in this time. She wondered if she would live long enough to get used to it. Maybe not, maybe yes?
Sarah had retreated to behind her inscrutable sunglasses and was being mercifully silent, no doubt realising that she was too white to take the lead in this situation. Grace herself was too white not to stand out so she did her best to be as neutral as possible and contented herself to scanning for danger and admiring Dani.
The woman in question was not inquiring about the train and buying food from vendors who were sitting around selling everything legal and illegal under the sun. Night started to fall quickly enough. The three of them had used an unspeakable bathroom to relieve themselves and had done what they could to remain out of sight and away from people.
Running to catch the train, Grace spared a thought for Sarah who was older, but was happy to see that she woman kept up.
Soon enough they were settled on the roof. Sweet Mexican coffee to warm them and with bellies full of homemade food. Grace theorised that she had not eaten so well since she had eaten her mother's cooking as a child. The thought made her sad, but her automatic systems did not let the sensation overwhelm her. She barely shed a tear for the long dead woman, for her long dead brother, for her long dead father.
Dani was alive and that was all that mattered to Grace.
Caught up in her automatic scans for threats and her own thoughts, Dani caught her by surprise when she asked what had happened.
"Nothing happened. There was no warning. One day everything just stopped." Grace's mind flashed back to the horror of that day. She had seen a plane fall from the sky, so much death. It paled though in comparison to what had happened the next day, or in the days and weeks that followed.
Fighting down the urge to slap Sarah off he roof of the train when the older woman had theorised that Dani would give birth to the saviour of humanity, Grace stood up and went into surveillance mode. Sarah could be key to Dani surviving, it would not do to injure the older woman now.
As sorely tempting as it was.
Dani woke up before dawn and saw that Grace was still watching over her. Silent and unmoving. It was cold and Daniela was concerned for the other woman. She got up and easily walked over to Grace, who immediately looked over at her. It was then that Dani realised that there was a glow in the blue eyes of the woman.
The glow dimmed slightly and Grace smiled, Dani felt her breath catch in her throat. She paused mentally to analyse the sensation. Could it be that she was attracted to the blonde woman? The thought gave Dani pause. Perhaps...
She spoke in a low voice, "Are you cold?" The words were barely audible to Dani, but she knew that Grace would be able to hear them. "Not in a way that matters, my systems won't let my temperature fall below 36 degrees under normal circumstances." The reply was spoken only slightly louder than Dani's.
Instinctively Dani wrapped her arms around Grace and to her delight, the embrace was returned at once. Grace smelled of sweat, but to Dani the scent was heavenly.
This thought confirmed her suspicions. She was attracted to Grace and that posed a whole set of problems. They were running for their lives from a murderous machine and who knew what tomorrow would bring. Never mind that Dani was not sure that Grace returned the attraction.
This could get very messy very quickly.
Dani almost missed the tiny sigh of contentment that escaped Grace's lips, almost but not quite. Her heart jumped at the knowledge. Daniela Ramos was not a stupid woman, she could read the room, as it were.
Not thinking of much, Dani raised her face to look at Grace and discovered that the taller woman was looking at her intently. It made Dani wonder if she was being scanned by the half of Grace that was machine or the half that was human.
Did she dare?
Would she dare?
Grace dared before Dani did. Lowering her head slightly, as if in inquiry. Daniela Ramos was not a wallflower. She opened her body language and shifted to pull on Grace, inviting her. Asking her to proceed and hoping that she would.
A heartbeat later, Dani felt tentative lips on her own. Hesitant and trembling, as it asking for permission somehow. Dani pulled harder and opened her mouth under the inquiring mouth of Grace and in another heartbeat, they were kissing for real.
There would only ever be a first time, and Dani resolved to savour it. After all it may well be her last time. It was the kiss of a lifetime.
Feeling flooded her body, sensation, gasping and demanding. Dani wanted to lose herself in Grace forever as the kiss deepened to an act of foreplay Strong hands grabbed at her back and pulled her in and Dani went willingly. Happily. Deliriously. Desirously.
Grace had never kissed anyone before and she knew in a nanosecond, that if she lived, she would never kiss anyone else. Her system was tuned for battle, this would be its first test for another type of intensity.
Arousal. Grace could feel her own body react and could easily detect that Dani was reacting with equal fervour. The kiss was all consuming and after an endless moment, Dani tore her mouth away to breathe. The both of them were gasping and Grace spared only a second to wonder why her systems were not compensating.
Then Dani pulled her in for another kiss and the world dissolved around Grace. The feel of Dani's mouth and the press of her body was more than she could stand. They had to stop, this was not the place, but would there ever be another chance? Another time? Another place?
Grace ignored good sense and crushed Dani gently to herself, Memorising every curve, every movement and sound that the small woman made and then Dani did something that almost short circuited Grace's processor, or so it seemed anyway.
The smaller woman lifted an arm and brushed her hand against Grace's breast. "Oh." Escaped from Grace's mouth and Dani took her cue and proceeded to kiss the side of grace's face and then neck and Grace wished they were back in the disgusting motel room in some privacy now.
"We need to stop." Grace breathed in aroused agony. Dani gasped as Grace pulled her closer still, easily lifting her weight off the roof of the train and holding their balance. "I know." Dani said sadly, as if realising that maybe this would be the last time. Grace immediately swore that she would do whatever was necessary to make this happen again. Even if it meant she had to defeat Legion herself, single handedly...
The two women fought to control their breathing and to calm down. They did not however release their embrace and in a few more minutes, the dawning sunlight was touching them and bringing with it the threat and promise of a new day.
When the train passed the location where the three women needed to be, they jumped off. Grace in a show of strength and not wishing anyone to have inconveniently broken legs, caught their bags and the two smaller women while running. For a brief moment, Sarah felt the exhilaration of free fall, before the blonde woman caught her easily and then the train passed and they were alone.
Unbeknownst to the two younger women, Sarah had been awake at dawn and was aware of the change in the relationship. It was something that was reminding Sarah that she was starting to feel again. After 22 years of feeling nothing, she was starting to feel again. She had even left her bottle of whiskey in the car when they had abandoned it.
Sarah supposed she was to be pleased with her progress, but seeing the two younger women giving each other shy sideways glances made her wonder if it was too early to feel. She already had affection for both of them, what would she do if either was injured? If either died? Everyone seemed to die when they were with her, but at least this time she was not the subject. It did not make anything better, though.
"Breakfast!" Sarah suggested. Whatever food and drink hey had left was better in them, soon it would get hot and things would begin to spoil and without a doubt the peaceful night would quickly turn into a living hell again.
"Good idea." Grace conceded and after a few moments, they were sharing what was left of protein bars, water, cold coffee and food.
"Sleep well?" Sarah could not help but poke at the smaller of the two women. She knew that Grace had not slept and probably needed very little sleep if she was not injured and recovering. Dani seemed to cough a little on her last mouthful of food, while Grace looked away.
Amused, Sarah stood up and dug out a roll of toilet paper from her backpack. "No time like the present and nothing can be as bad at that bathroom back there." Sarah felt weirdly cheerful as she marched off to do her business behind a small rock she had spied in the distance.
In another half hour, they were ready to go. "There is a road a couple of miles ahead, we'll catch a lift." Grace had said, and Sarah assumed that she had detailed maps of every conceivable thing in her database.
Nothing like a walking, talking, super soldier GPS in times of trouble.
Sarah amused herself as they walked, watching the two women act like teenagers around each other. It made her feel almost maternal in a weird way. She fervently hoped that this would somehow work out, though experience had taught her that really it could only end in heartbreak.
"Here the road." Dani remarked and Sarah observed the position of the sun. For the time being they were comfortable, fed, hydrated and somewhat rested, but if the sun got too much higher, those things would change very soon.
"Hopefully someone passes soon." Grace mumbled, seeming to echo Sarah's sentiments.
"Tell us about your uncle, Dani." Sarah prodded gently, wanting to know about the man but knowing that the subject would remind Dani of her dead father.
"He is a Coyote. He takes people across the border, but does not leave them to die. He is my father's brother." Dani added sadly and Sarah noted that Grace winced in sympathy. They had all lost so much in this war, even before it had properly begun.
"I have money." Grace commented and dug in her pocket for a wad of pesos. "He won't ask for any." Dani commented absently, distracted by the sight of more money that she usually saw in months. "Well, it's not like we can use them over the border. He might a well take them." Sarah said, intuitively knowing that Grace would be able to access dollars on the American side.
"You'll just have to leave them, he won't accept them." Dani was saying when Grace perked up. "There is a pickup coming." She said and the three women positioned themselves in the hopes of catching a ride.
Moments later, a white pickup pulled up and after a brief exchange where Grace handed over money for gas, the an driving cheerfully agreed to drive them to where they were going, which by some rare good fortune was where he was going.
Sarah doubted that there was any good fortune in play, but it did not matter.
Now, over an hour later and sitting in the back of the pickup truck, Sarah observed Dani sleeping with her head on Grace's leg and wondered to herself if there was any hope for the two. At some point Dani would need to get pregnant and unless Grace had some enhancement that Sarah was unaware of, that would involve a third party and then who knew what would happen? This all seemed so messy...
Still, it was a nice a distracting thought as they sped down the highway under the hot sun. Privately she wondered now far they would get in the States before some authority would be onto them. Well, whatever. That was a problem for then, for now the problem was that they actually had to get over the border.
When they finally arrived at their destination, Grace easily jumped from the truck and helped her two stiffer companions get to their feet. They had been in the pickup for hours under the baking sun.
Before Grace could react, Dani ran to an older man, but a lightning quick scan revealed to Grace that he was human. Her uncle.
After some preliminaries, the three women were enjoying snacks and drinks while Dani talked with her uncle about what they needed. Grace continued her scanning and was preparing syringes with meds, taking the time to write down the proportions needed and the names of each drug onto a piece of paper. Later, she would ensure that both Sarah and Dani had a copy, along with what types of food and drink was best for her recovery. One just never knew when this sort of thing was needed.
"That's a new one!" explained the young man on the sofa who was listening in on their conversation. Grace had just heard Dani explain to her uncle that a machine was chasing them and told him that Grace herself was part machine.
Grace took a big bite of her snack and grabbed the butterfly knife on the table, flicking it open and quickly and easily cutting a fly in half that had been enjoying her. Dani's uncle paused mid-speech and Grace almost smiled.
If only they knew.
Grace hurried with her syringes and copied out a second list to give her two companions. It would be time to go soon.
"We need to leave soon. Let' get ready." Dani's uncle said and soon they were preparing food and water rations, checking equipment and Grace carefully secured her meds to the small of her back. She had used all that she had, she just hoped that it would be enough until they found another pharmacy.
Neither Sarah or Dani said a word when she gave them the lists, but Grace could not help but react when she came closer to Dani. Up until now, she had been able to control herself, the mission required it.
It was Dani's scent that undid her. Familiar, it caused an ache that she could barely identify in herself. Distracted for a moment, she was caught by surprise when Dani reached up to pull her into a quick kiss and embrace. It promised so much, it made Grace feel so much. It was too much, and yet, it would never be enough.
"Dani..." Grace breathed, uncaring of the audience, just for once. "I know, mi amore." the smaller woman said in a low voice and Grace could feel her systems overload at the words. Thankfully battle hardened systems were able to compensate before she fainted.
How was she supposed to deal with this? Looking up, she saw that Dani's uncle and Sarah were quite obviously and deliberately looking away. The wisdom of age an experience having taught them to be discreet.
The cat, was however, well and truly out of the bag.
Nothing in Grace's experience, catalogue of information, or life had prepared her for this eventuality and yet she could not help but painfully wonder if they would even live to see another day. Dani would, but Grace did not harbour illusions that it was likely that she would not.
It was heartbreaking.
To Be Continued
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