Chapter 1

Kyle Reese crouched in a small ball, completely naked, and with a flash oflight was transposed a thousand miles and thirty years, from the cold floor ofthe MIT facility to the still-warm air of Los Angeles at two hours pastmidnight, June 22nd, 1997. His whole body tensed, and he readied himself tosprint or roll out of the way of debris, or a car, but the jump had comethrough clean. He stood up, fully conscious of his lack of weaponry,identification, and clothing, and set off at a brisk jog towards UCLA.

Somewhere out there, his mother was six years old. She was living in Oregon,though she’d never said much more beyond that. Kyle tried not to think abouther too much, or about anything else in the future he’d just locked himselfoff from. The future wasn’t being rewritten, a whole new book of history hadbeen plopped down alongside the old one. He tried to shake off the memoriesand focus on the mission instead. He glanced inside the cars that he passed,hoping to see one with some clothing.

If anyone saw the naked man running down the street, they must have assumedthat he was a college streaker, or perhaps more likely just dubbed him SomeoneElse’s Problem.

The house was a white, single story one, with a long set of steps that ran upthe front lawn to the front door. The number on the mailbox matched the onethat Kyle had etched into his mind in the future. The curtains were drawn overall the windows of the house, and even though it was nearly three in themorning, all the lights were on. Kyle rang the doorbell, and placed a handover his crotch. It was several minutes before she came to the door, and thewhole time he waited he was trying to strike the right pose and tone of voiceto keep her from calling the police on him.

She opened the door halfway, standing so that she could close it on him, andlooked down at where his hand covered his crotch. Without so much as a grinshe said, “If I had known this was a casual affair, I wouldn’t have botheredputting on pants.”

“Sarah Connor?” he asked, but there was no denying it was her. Kyle had seen asingle picture of her, carried by her son, and it must have been from thispoint in her life. Her brown hair was tied back in a tight ponytail, thickglasses sat perched on the bridge of her nose, and she wore a grey t-shirtwith “Shirt” written across the front of it, along with black sweatpants. ToKyle’s eyes she was radiantly beautiful, even with the subtle wrinkles of ageon her face. She was thirty-four, he knew, but she didn’t look it. Perhapspeople didn’t age quite as fast prior to Judgement Day.

“Is this a joke of some kind?” she asked calmly. “Or are you simply insane?”

“Neither,” replied Kyle, looking over his shoulder, “I know this is veryunusual, but I need to talk to you.” He paused. “And borrow some pants.”

“Of course, if you were insane, you probably wouldn’t know it, or at least notadvertise it.” She paused, and tapped at her lip. “Alright, you have twosentences to convince me not to call the police.”

“I’m from a future where an artificial intelligence has killed 99.99% ofhumanity through command of the nuclear arsenal of the United States and needyour help to stop that from happening.” He stopped himself and weighed hisnext words carefully. “There might also be a cyborg coming to kill you thatonly I can protect you from.”

She stared at him for a few seconds, then shrugged. “I’m unconvinced. Why areyou naked if you’re sent here to protect me?”

“The time machine only sends through flesh,” replied Kyle. He knew how thatwould sound to her, but it was the truth.

“Convenient. And this cyborg, he can still get through somehow?”

Kyle nodded. “It’s metal, wrapped in flesh.”

“So you come through without any clothing, and with no proof that what you sayis true, and you come completely naked telling me that the world is going toend, and that I should come with you if I want to live. And somehow, thehypothetical future organization that sent you thought that this was somethingthat I would go for. I don’t suppose that metal wrapped in flesh applies topeople, and if it does I don’t suppose that you hypothetical future humanresistance thought to have you swallow evidence to vomit up for me?” Sherattled it off quickly, and Kyle might have been stunned by it if he hadn’tbeen prepared for her idiosyncrasies by her son.

He reached two fingers into his mouth, and began gagging heavily. Finally,Sarah Connor seemed to express some surprise. With a wet gurgle, Kyle felt thesudden panicked need to hurl, and with modesty forgotten, he threw up in apotted plant next to her front door. A slim balloon with something hard in itsat in the middle of the pool of bile.

“Well,” said Sarah. “Well … that shows dedication if nothing else.”

“There’s a jump stick in there. It has as much as I can give you for proof.”Kyle shook his head and tried to spit the taste of vomit from his mouth. “Inthe meantime … well, let’s pretend that I’m just a freshman from UCLA that’sbeing hazed into doing this shit, and you’re feeling nice enough to let me inand give me some clothing.”

“I’ll get you clothing, but you can’t come in,” she replied. Her eyes flashedto the small balloon. “If you were somehow, impossibly, from the future, I’djust be able to plug that into my computer?”

“Don’t, not until I can supervise. Skynet’s on there.” Kyle coughed wetly, andsaw some blood. He hoped it was just from throwing up; the time travel techwas pretty far from any standards of safety and reliability.

“I’m going to get you some clothes. Don’t move. If you try to come in, I’llshoot you.” Her right hand had been behind the door, but she pulled it back toshow him a handgun. “I’m serious. I’ve shot men before.” She closed the dooron him quickly, keeping the gun trained on him the whole time, and Kyle heardthe deadbolt slide into place.

He breathed a sigh of relief, and stood naked on the porch, massaging histhroat. He knew what to expect of Sarah, and knew that she’d find his storyintriguing, but there were more a huge number of potential pitfalls. It wasn’ta mission with a terribly high chance of success. After a few minutes, Sarahreopened the door, and tossed him some clothing with her left hand whilekeeping her handgun pointed at him with her right.

“What’s skynet?” asked Sarah. She’d lowered her gun slightly, not enough totruly let her guard down, just enough to let him know that she wasn’t planningon shooting him unless she had to. He wondered if her arm was getting tired -the gun looked heavy.

“Skynet is the machine intelligence, the one that killed almost everyone.”Kyle slipped into the pants she’d given him, which were loose in the waist anda bit too long, but far better than being completely naked.

Sarah nodded. “And we’re back in crazyland again, are we? You’re telling methat there’s a fully functional AI that killed everyone, so you stuck it on adisk and sent it back in time?” At the same time her eyes kept moving to thevomit covered balloon.

“It can’t do anything without access to the outside world,” said Kyle. “Johndid his best to make sure of that. So long as you don’t have a networkconnection, it won’t be able to get out, and you can poke at it as much as youwant.”

“It’s not smart enough to talk me into letting it out?” asked Sarah. The gunslowly slipped to her side, and Kyle stifled a breath of relief. Sarah Connorwas long dead where he was from, but they still told stories about her. TheSarah Connor of legend would have shot him in the head after seeing himthrough the peephole, but she didn’t seem to have become that person yet.

“Skynet is as dumb as a box of bricks. It’s got no real capacity for self-improvement either. But as dumb as it is, it’s dumb very, very fast, and inthe future, after it’s all but wiped us out, it’s dumb fast enough to be aproblem.” He cocked his head to the side. “But I’m still standing out in frontof your door, and this is a long story.” He slipped on the t-shirt that she’dhanded him, which was a size too small.

Sarah briefly glanced down at the vomit-covered balloon, then back up at him.

“Fine, you can come in. I’m going to make you wear the handcuffs though.”

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