ALAN DEAN FOSTER
Based on the motion picture written by
JOHN BRANCATO & MICHAEL FERRIS
Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Novelization
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Titan Publishing Group Ltd
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First edition April 2009
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Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Novelization is a work of fiction. Names, places andincidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Terminator Salvation? & ? 2009 T Asset Acquisition Company, LLC.
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For Brian Thomsen, who would have approved.
But who left much too soon. In appreciation and friendship.
The future is not set.
I’ve been told I said that once.
Many years from now.
It was a warning.
That I was going to hell.
But if I fought hard enough,
I could escape. I believed it for a lifetime.
Also available from
From The Ashes
The Official Movie Prequel
By Timothy Zahn
CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO CHAPTER THREE CHAPTER FOUR CHAPTER FIVE CHAPTER SIX CHAPTER SEVEN CHAPTER EIGHT CHAPTER NINE CHAPTER TEN CHAPTER ELEVEN CHAPTER TWELVE CHAPTER THIRTEEN CHAPTER FOURTEEN CHAPTER FIFTEEN CHAPTER SIXTEEN CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
Longview State Correctional Facility was no better or worse, no more architecturally attractiveor depressing, than any other maximum security prison in the state of Texas, which meant thaton the inmates’ gauge of such wretched establishments it fell somewhere between dismal andbutt-ugly.
Its residents, both short- and long-term, tended to be as hard and unforgiving as the land atopwhich their current place of residence had been raised. Few blue-collar criminals dared raisehand or head among the growling populace, whose professional pursuits tended to involvecracking heads as opposed to persuading them.
Or to put it another way, Longview was home to far more head-crackers than crackheads.
Among the former could be accounted a certain highly antisocial specimen named Marcus Wright.Regrettably, for much of his life Wright had been in the wrong. At the moment, he was sittingon a cot in a small piece of concrete hell staring at the wall opposite. The vision of fleckingstone and cement had nothing particular to recommend it, but it beat gazing at any of the threemen standing nearby. Two wore uniforms, the third did not.
No , he corrected himself. That wasn’t quite true. All three wore uniforms. It was depressingfor Wright to look at them because two stood on the other side of the welded iron bars thatconfined him in his current cage and the third could exit at any time. Society preferred tocall his present, and increasingly transitory, home a “cell.” Wright knew better. Both werefour-letter words.
Two of the free individuals were guards. Armed and holding metal shackles, they kept a wary eyeon the proceedings taking place on the other side of the bars. Their posture and expressionsreflected the preoccupations of hard men who are fully conscious of the fact that anyrelaxation in the carrying-out of their daily routine could result in pain, injury, or death.They hadn’t acquired their current positions within Longview because those of neurosurgeon androcket scientist were unavailable.
It wasn’t that they were ignorant: just that in their chosen line of work muscle and physicalagility were more critical to continued survival than the mental kind. Not that this usuallymattered. With few exceptions, their cranial capacity normally exceeded that of those they wereexpected to dominate.
The third member of the triumvirate standing just inside the cell door defined himself throughhis words, though having attended to many present and former residents of the prison he too hadinevitably been toughened by the experience. Over the years his recitation of the traditionalbiblical standards had devolved into a monotone tinged more by a lingering, bastard hope thanactual expectation.
While the priest’s optimism in the face of the brutality human beings could render unto oneanother had never been entirely quashed, it had been repeatedly squeezed and pummeled by ademoralizing range of harsh realism until it bore little resemblance to what one could expectto hear asserted on The Outside.
His faith was punch-drunk.
“Yea,” he intoned mechanically, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Iwill fear no evil.”
Stupid , Marcus Wright thought. Stupid and redundant. Why would I be afraid of myself?
Wasn’t he evil incarnate? Hadn’t that asshole of a judge told him so, and hadn’t he had itconfirmed by a smarmy, quivering public? If that was their verdict on him, then it had to betrue, didn’t it? He’d long ago lost any desire to dispute society’s judgment. That much hehad in common with the concrete wall at which he was presently staring. Both of them weresolid, impenetrable, blank-faced, and mute. If the wall could accept its fate in silence, socould he.
“...for thou art beside me.”
? Wright wondered silently toWhy couldn’t the man just shut upThe priest droned on.
himself. Why would he, why would anyone, spend one minute longer in the bowels of this graycesspool of decomposing humanity than they had to?
“Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.”
Now that was a homily Wright felt he could get behind. Give me a rod and a staff , he thought
with grim humor, and then you better get out of my way. Give me a chance...
One thing about hard polished floors and solid enclosed corridors: they make for excellentacoustics. This can be unpleasant when someone is screaming incessantly, an activity notuncommon at Longview. The construction can also magnify ordinary footsteps, and this was thesound that caused Wright to give a cursory glance in the direction of the outside.
An instant later his full attention had shifted from the immovable wall to an approachingwaist. His suddenly alert eyes proceeded to rove silently over everything both above and belowthat gently bobbing dividing line.
The guards looked, too. Visitants like Dr. Serena Kogan were rare in Longview. Her title wasnot what interested them, though Wright’s reaction was more conflicted than they would havesuspected. Long used to such blatant testosterone-fueled stares, Kogan ignored them.
Still in her thirties, she was unconventionally beautiful. Part of this was due to the natureof her work, which gave her an aspect of perfection that was partly the result of intenseconcentration. Uncharacteristically, desperation announced itself in the slight gauntness ofher face and the tightness of her lips. It detracted from her beauty only slightly.
Halting outside his cell, she looked in and met Wright’s gaze without flinching. The ensuingsilence between them spoke, if not volumes, at least a word or two. He looked up at the priest.
“Leave.” Emerging from the prisoner’s mouth, it was plainly a command and not a request.
His State-supported visitor gestured hesitantly with the Bible he held.
“I’m not finished, son.”
Wright’s gaze shifted from wall to uninvited confessor. His stare was, arguably, moreunyielding than the concrete. It was not necessary for him to respond—verbally.
As pragmatic as he was well-meaning, the priest got the message. As the heavy metal door waspulled back he did not even glance in the direction of the new arrival. He was lost in his ownthoughts, which were not as comforting as he would have liked.
One of the guards managed to raise his gaze from the rest of Serena Kogan to her face longenough to give her a warning nod.
If you need us, me and my buddy are right here, his expression said, while the look on his
colleague’s face added, Don’t do anything to need us.
As the cell door slid shut behind her, awkwardness substituted for a casual greeting.Disinterested at the best of times in casual chatter, Wright regarded her wordlessly. Thesilence between them threatened to grow as wide as the gap between their respective socialpositions.
“How are you?” she finally murmured.
In the troglodytic confines of the cell the query was at least as funny as the paramountpunchline of a highly paid stand-up comedian.
“Ask me again in an hour,” Wright replied coldly.
With the silence but not the unease broken, her attention wandered to the cell’s small desk.It boasted little in the way of accoutrements save for a single tome: Beyond Good and Evil.
Not exactly light reading, but she was pleased to see it.
“You got the book I sent.”
Wright wasn’t one to comment on the obvious. For all he mouthed in response he might have readthe volume through, or he might have used the pages for toilet paper. His expression gave noclue. And they were both running out of options.
“I thought I’d try one last time.” In the dim light of the cell her pale skin gleamed likethe sun he could no longer see. “Beg, really.”
No smile, no frown. Same monotone, same unreadable expression.
“You should’ve stayed in San Francisco,” he muttered. “Situations reversed, I would have.”
She stared at him a moment longer, then moved deliberately over to the desk. From the slim caseshe carried she removed a sheaf of neatly bound papers, set them on the battered, scoredsurface, and added a pen. Per entrance regulations, the pen had a soft tip. Her voicestrengthened.
“By signing this consent form you’d be donating your body to a noble cause. You’d have asecond chance, with your last act, to do something for humanity. It’s an opportunity that’snot offered to everyone in your position.”
He looked up at her.
“You know what I did. I’m not looking for a second chance.”
She hesitated, then picked up the pen and papers. Her slender hands were shaking, and notbecause of his nearness. Having corresponded with her, he knew at least part of the reason why.
“’Course, I’m not the only one with a death sentence, am I? Life’s funny that way. Youthink by signing those papers I’m going to help cure your cancer, Dr. Kogan?”
She stiffened slightly.
“We’re all going to die, Marcus. Sooner or later, everyone dies, every thing dies. People,plants, planets, stars—everything. In the scheme of things my life, your life, none of themmatter. We’re here for a minute or two; we eat, laugh, and screw around, and then we’regone.”
She snapped her fingers.
“Like that. I’m not worried about myself. I’m worried about the future of the human race.”
He appeared to ponder her response, then nodded slowly.
“Like I should care about the future of the human race. Like anyone should. It produced me,didn’t it?” He went silent for another moment, then declared, “Tell you what I’ll do. I’llsell it to you. My body.” He looked down at himself and the disgust in his voice was
It wasn’t the final reply she had expected.
“’Sell’ it? For what?”
He looked up at her again, meeting her gaze evenly. A glint of life had appeared amid theemptiness in his eyes. Or maybe it was just the angle of the overhead lights.
Her lower jaw dropped slightly and she gaped at him.
“Are you trying to be funny?”
He shrugged diffidently.
“I’m not funny even when I try.” Extending one arm, he indicated his surroundings. “Notmuch to joke about here. Well?” His other hand tapped his chest. “You want the merchandise ornot?”
“You’re kidding, aren’t you?”
“Last guy thought I was kidding didn’t have a chance to revise his opinion.”
She swallowed. Her gut was riven with inoperable tumors. She had something to gain andabsolutely nothing to lose. When you’re dying, it’s amazing how swiftly abstract notions like
self-respect and dignity are reduced to useless platitudes. She set the pen and papers back onthe desk, then turned back to him and nodded. Her arms dropped to her sides. She looked like awoman facing a firing squad.
For the first time since the priest had come and gone, Wright rose from the cot. Standing, helooked a lot taller, a lot bigger. The emotional as well as physical threat he representedextended out in all directions from his powerful frame. Just being in his vicinity wasdisturbing.
Outside the cell, the two veteran guards saw what was happening and immediately moved closer tothe door. One gripped the handle in anticipation. But they had been told not to interfereunless it became absolutely necessary.
Wright moved closer to her. She held her ground. Slowly, taking his time, he leaned toward her.Over her. Before the guards could get inside he could reach up and snap her neck like adesiccated broomstick, and they both knew it.
Bending down, he kissed her.
His hands rose to hold the sides of her face as he held the contact. There was not a shred ofsexual attraction, of romance, of tenderness, in the kiss. It was ugly and violating andpsychologically—if not physically—brutal. While it continued her eyes were shut tight, andnot with pleasure.
He held it for a long time.
Alternately repulsed and bemused, the guards looked on but made no move to intervene. Alreadythey were imagining how they were going to tell the story to their cohorts. Later, over hotcoffee and sweet pastries.
The unwieldy clinch continued until Wright had had enough. Maybe he simply grew bored. Or maybehe had sufficiently demonstrated what he could do if he wanted to. Letting go of her he steppedback, studying her face. Looking through her. When he finally spoke, his tone was atypicallythoughtful.
“So that’s what death tastes like.”
Though she tried, her expression did not kill him. In any case, that was the State’sresponsibility.
Stepping past her, he picked the pen up off the desk. Without so much as a glance at the pagesof extensive legalese, he signed where indicated. He could have misspelled his name, could havesigned “George Washington,” could have done any number of things to render the processlegally invalid. Instead, he wrote “Marcus Wright” in clear, legible letters. A deal was adeal, and he felt he had gotten his money’s worth.
Putting down the pen he turned to the corridor and turned his hands palm upwards, showing themto the guards. The one whose grip had never left the door handle now pulled the metal barrierwide while his partner hefted the leg shackles he was carrying. No explanation was necessary.
It was time.
Stepping out of the cell Wright stood stolidly, staring at the far wall of the corridor. It wasa relief to be out of the cage. Even if it was just to be in the corridor. Even if it was forthe last time. He did not move, nor offer any resistance as the guard methodically snapped theshackles shut around his ankles. Their weapons and training notwithstanding, he knew he couldhave taken both of them. They probably knew it too, just as all three of them knew that if hemade any kind of hostile move he would never get out of the corridor alive, and that his demisewould assuredly be less swift and probably more painful than the one that had been adjudicatedby the State.
While his legs were being secured, Kogan was studying the papers. At once satisfied andrelieved she tucked them carefully, almost reverentially, into her carry case. Only then didshe exit the cell and stand to one side, gazing at the stone-faced Wright.
“You’re doing something very noble.”
He looked back at her. “I’m dying for my sins and letting you slice up my body until there’snothing left of me. Not that there’d be anybody to visit a grave if I was going to one. Yeah,I’m a regular hero.”
“You don’t understand. This is the beginning of something wonderful.”
“No. It’s the end of something miserable.”
The guard who had put on the leg shackles made a final check of each before straightening. Heand his colleague exchanged a glance. Then the other man nodded at the prisoner.
“Let’s go. It’s time.”
Since there was no way to disguise the death chamber, and no reason to do so, no State had evermade the attempt. Pastel colors would have seemed out of place, any kind of décor beyond whatwas necessary and required would only be condescending. The room was spare, empty, asfunctional as a coal bin or a crankshaft.
There was a bulletproof glass partition. One side featured seats reserved for the invited:witnesses, the media, family members of the condemned’s victims. The other side was reservedfor death.
Many executions were attended only by those necessary to carry out the will of the people. NotMarcus Wright’s. While not drawing the fervor of a seventeenth-century public beheading, itwas the capital punishment equivalent of a full house.
Serena Kogan was among the spectators. Not because her presence was required, but because forreasons known only to herself she felt incumbent to be present.
Flanked by the ever-attentive guards, the prisoner shambled in on his own power. Too many hadto be dragged, or sedated beforehand.
Aided by the guards, the execution team took over. Guiding him firmly, they positioned him onhis back on the gurney. As wrist and ankle shackles were removed, thick leather straps werebuckled across his body and carefully tightened. At the moment of truth, powerful men who hadbeen calm and even boastful beforehand had been known to fly into violent, uncontrollableconvulsions. It was why the straps had been made strong enough to hold down a bucking steer.
As the team continued its silent, methodical work, Longview’s warden spoke from where he wasstanding nearby. He did not say much. This was neither the time nor the place for idle chatter.
Lying on the gurney as others labored silently and efficiently around him, Wright considered.He never had been very good with words. Maybe if he had been better with them than with hisfists.... Too late for that now. Too late for any sort of recriminations. He would haveshrugged, had the straps allowed it.
“I killed a man who didn’t deserve it. Fair’s fair. So let it rip.”
In his years at Longview the warden had heard it all. It was not an eloquent farewell, butneither had the prisoner given in to hysteria. For that the warden was grateful. The processwas no less distasteful for having become rare. It was always better when it was not messy.
A technician swabbed Wright’s arm with alcohol. Turning his head to watch, he wondered aboutthat. What, were they afraid he might get an infection? There was barely a twinge when the IVwas inserted. The tech was very good at his job and the needle going in didn’t hurt at all.Wright was unaccountably grateful.
His eyes began to move rapidly, taking in his surroundings and the rest of the chamber.Everything appeared suddenly new and heightened. The color of the technicians’ coats. The blueof a guard’s eyes. The intensity of the overhead lights. There was something else new, too.For the first time in the prisoner’s eyes, fear.