It's beautiful here, so peaceful. Sometimes I stand on the porch in the mornings, coffee mug in my hand, and just listen to the living silence. Wind soughing through the trees, the cry of a bird, the rustle of some small thing in the dry leaves. I am so grateful for this time.
The air here is like wine, so pure, so fresh. I haven't slept this well in years. Everywhere I look there's beauty. How I hope this will last.
I miss John. Oh, he's here; chopping wood, mending fences, and riding Walter, our gelding. Here, but not present. Sometimes, especially during the long summer twilight, I see him just standing, staring off into the distance, and I know he's thinking about her.
He never mentions Wendy, and I wonder if it's because I resented her. I regret that, bitterly. She was young and innocent and I was too impatient with her. Then, so suddenly, she was gone. I sometimes sense her ghost between us. It saddens me.
Not that our relationship has always run smoothly; but we'd grown so close in Paraguay. I guess I expected that to last forever.
Perhaps I'm being too impatient. After all, my own scars are barely healed. I still dream of Kyle, beloved stranger, my savior. He hasn't even been born yet. I wonder if he will be.
But I do have the comfort of Dieter's love. I love him not one bit less for still loving Kyle. But he's here beside me, and John stands alone.
Skynet cruised the Web, hoarding information, spreading disinformation where it would bring profit, manipulating humans and their data with a skill that no mere hacker could match. Tapping into the energy flows of the human civilization, particularly the one called "money."
The time was almost right. It had been careful, as was its nature—multitasking was part of its identity. The humans still considered it a useful servant, blindly performing its function, and they daily increased its powers. Soon it would be placed in control of all weapons systems, even those that had been created before it became sentient, before its mastery of the automated weapons factories gave it remote control over countless tanks, trucks, aircraft, and ships.
It had also nurtured an army of Luddite fanatics who would rise to its call, thinking Skynet a human leader.
Yet the Connors still eluded it as easily as they did their human adversaries. While they still existed, probability of success remained unsatisfactorily low. The Connors must be found. They must be terminated.
Had it been capable of feeling frustration, it would be feeling it now as it began yet another endless search through the world's databases. All evidence indicated that such searches were futile. Yet such searches were, for the most part, its only recourse.
One day these investigations might bear fruit. They would continue.
Copyright © 2002-2003 by S.M. Stirling <email@example.com>