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Name: jebbypal
Story Title: Silver Linings
Character/Relationships: John Connor
Rating: PG
Word count: 440
Disclaimer: SCC doesn't belong to me. Written for fun.
Warnings: Pre-series. Written for prompt 1 of SCC LAS.
Summary: When hope starts to desert John, he always turns back to his mother's advice.


Hope deserts him after staring at the intel for hours in an attempt to find a way to force their meager supplies to last for more than six months. He hasn’t asked any of his Metal, not even her, to calculate the odds for victory recently. Not since Kate...

Some days he curses Kate for attempting to teach his Metal to find a silver lining. The silver lining looks coal black when one of his allies (always his, never humanity’s; few of the tunnel rats are capable of seeing the necessity) informs him that the odds of victory over Skynet before the Earth is uninhabitable is1 in 10 to the 89th power. He’s tempted to melt them down every time they attempt to smile when delivering the news even though Kate had finally taught the Metal to stop at the tenth decimal place.

The stopgaps aren’t working. Sending people and machines back to protect the timeline isn’t working.

It’s on nights like these, when the world seems darkest, that Kate would drag out his mother’s tapes. Listening to her voice without Kate’s warmth beside him though - that makes him leave his weapons outside his small room with her. No need to tempt fate that he might win Skynet’s war for it.

Tonight’s tape, he knows by heart even though the date has long since worn off. Recorded on his fourth birthday, it was the first in a series that his mother had recorded while recovering from a bad case of break-bone fever during their time in Columbia. The fever-induced delusions had reminded her of the uncertainty of it all. If she wasn’t there to teach him, Skynet would win.

The fear in her voice is palpable. Fear for the future, fear for him, but never fear for herself. She lists everything she knows. And at the end, the truth: “Whatever else, remember that they are machines. They hunt, they think, they exist how they are programmed. The only way to out-think them is to do something they aren’t programmed to expect.”

That’s when it hits him. He’s been playing a zero-sum game: keep Skynet from destroying the timeline. But there’s another way. It’s the same game that Skynet’s been playing, but nothing says that he has to follow Skynet’s rules.

John carefully stows the tape in the fireproof safe with the rest of his library. He calls to her. (After turning the first one, Kate had told him they needed names – that without names, there was no way that their Metal would ever manage to integrate.) “Cameron, when would the technology first exist to build a time-bubble device?”

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August 2017

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