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Like all machines, Cameron was created to complete a specific mission. Unlike all machines, however, she also possesses a number of secondary objectives and a series of directives that may or may not have been given to her by General Connor. Here is an account of her known objectives and her questionable agenda.
Mission: Terminate John Connor
- "I'm going to kill him and hang his head on a pike for all to see."
- - Cameron.
Cameron was created as a dedicated replacement for Resistance fighter Allison Young, whom it was believed was of significant importance to John Connor. Cameron began her mission by interrogating Allison, learning important details about her personal history so as to better mimic her behaviour. Once a complete personality profile was mapped, Cameron began asking Allison strategic questions, including the location of John’s hidden base. Allison gave her the location, and Skynet raided the bunker, but John and his officers had already left.
Among those captured by the raiders were a number of VIPs who each carried a shiny metal bracelet identical to the one Allison wore. Cameron showed these bracelets to Allison and, upon reading her reaction, deduced that the bracelets were in fact a pass for access into John’s inner circle. She then realised that Allison’s silence regarding the pass would’ve resulted in her immediate failure had she approached his location without it. Cameron promptly terminated Allison and took her bracelet.
The details of Cameron’s infiltration and capture by the Resistance is not yet clear, but it is to be assumed that she was detected and neutralised, allowing Connor to hack her chip and override the termination order with his own directives. Cameron remained under this restraint for some time until one fateful day in the past when she suffered damage from a car bomb. The damage rendered her offline for a brief time, though her threat condition may have sped up the reboot process, resulting in a partial load-up state.
As a result, Cameron’s core programming was able to run without any interference from John’s directives. Cameron assessed her physical damage and then climbed out of the burning Jeep, registering a compromise in her chip integrity. Regardless of her condition, Cameron immediately proceeded to limp back inside the Connor residence where she found one of Sarkissian’s thugs lighting a cigarette in the back room. She incapacitated the man with ease and then took his Glock 17 handgun, after which she struggled up the stairs to the attic room.
She found John and his mother, Sarah, alive but shaken, with the mobster Sarkissian deceased on the floor beside them. Cameron assessed the situation for a brief moment before confirming John’s identity, which prompted her termination command. She took aim and would have killed him were it not for the stairs collapsing beneath her, knocking her off her feet. Though she reached up and managed to climb back into the attic, John and Sarah had already escaped through the window.
Having lost her gun in the fire, Cameron followed the most likely direction the Connors would’ve taken and stalked the city streets for a while before stopping in a convenience store to conduct some basic repairs to her organic covering. After stapling her cheek back together, she continued her search downtown and happened upon a splatter of male blood on the pavement, which she guessed belonged to John. Cameron followed this trail to a chapel where she was confronted by a bemused priest.
She told the priest she was looking for her “brother” and her “mother”, believing them to be hurt. He remained oblivious to their whereabouts, however, and although Cameron likely suspected him of lying, she allowed him to go about his business while she searched the chapel. The trail of blood led her to a holy water basin, inside of which lay a towel. Cameron reached into the water and removed the towel, revealing an alarm clock underneath. She was then struck by a burst of electricity as the clock switched on, and went offline.
John and Sarah used the 120 seconds of reboot time to cut into her head and try to remove her chip, but lacking the right tools, they were unable to do so in the allotted time and were forced to flee mere seconds before she awoke. Cameron got back to her feet and took a moment to cover her CPU port again before taking chase, though her limp kept her from catching them easily. The Connors stole a car and managed to put some distance between them and her, but were forced to do a U-turn and ended up driving into a levy.
Cameron, having tracked them closely, headed them off and waited for them at the end of the tunnel. Though Sarah swerved to avoid the cyborg, Cameron managed to grab the rear of the car and apply enough force to topple it onto its side, resulting in the car rolling to a stop in the levy. Cameron was knocked to the floor by this, but quickly righted herself and slowly ambled towards the overturned vehicle. John was able to climb out and escape before she reached them, however. So she instructed Sarah to call out to him and make him return.
Despite mild torture, Sarah refused to cooperate and judging by her knowledge of John, Cameron knew her efforts were in vain. She abandoned Sarah and followed John into a disused warehouse full of old delivery trucks. Switching to her heat sensors, Cameron scanned the warehouse until hearing the door of one of the trucks closing. She opened the nearest one, but John was no where to be found, however. She then heard him trying to hotwire another truck, so she grabbed a nearby wrench and followed the noise to its source.
She located the truck and made a visual confirmation when he got the engine running and popped up into view. Cameron then hurled the wrench at him, but he ducked in time to avoid it. She then started towards the truck, but Sarah suddenly arrived in another truck and raced towards her. Instead of stepping aside, Cameron began climbing the front of John’s truck and was subsequently pinned between it and Sarah’s vehicle.
John smashed through the windshield and climbed out onto the hood of both trucks, allowing him the perfect opportunity to get at her chip. With no means of escape, Cameron tried to appeal to John’s emotions by telling him she was no longer a threat to him and that she’d run a test and is her old self again. Though her words succeeded in making him pause, John continued to remove her shielded tab and revealed the chip within. Facing immediate deactivation, Cameron passionately begged him to spare her life.
Again, he paused, but when Cameron cried her love for him it had an adverse effect, resulting in him removing her chip. John later cleaned her chip thoroughly, especially around the connectors, and defied his mother by reinserting her chip instead of burning her body as instructed. Cameron was then able to perform a full system reboot, resulting in the reassertion of her Resistance programming, overriding her termination command. Since then, Cameron’s core programming has been contained, despite several glitches in her damaged chip.
Mission: Protect John Connor
- "I was sent here to protect John."
- - Cameron.
Upon her capture by the Resistance, Cameron was reprogrammed with a new set of directives that kept her core programming in check. It is unclear whether she was given her current mission at this point, or if General Connor gave it to her prior to sending her back in time. Either way, Cameron immediately took up a position of trust with John and became, for all intents and purposes, his consort. As John drew further and further away from his human subordinates, it became common practise for Cameron to act as his messenger.
This irked many in the Resistance, Jesse Flores and Derek Reese for example, who believed John had become compromised and that Cameron was influencing his decisions, resulting in missions with high collateral damage. It is unclear what occurred between her reprogramming and her being sent to the past, but John decided to trust her with a mission of great and personal importance regardless.
In 2027, Cameron was assigned the mission to travel back to the year 1999 to locate and protect John Connor in that time, as well as to ensure the survival of his mother. Upon arriving in 1999, Cameron searched for the Connors for 73 days before locating them in Red Valley, New Mexico. She posed as a friendly student in Crest View High school, and during the first day of meeting him, succeeded in making enough of an impression to earn John's trust and interest the next day.
Her cover was quickly blown, however, as John had also been tracked down by a Series T-888 infiltrator posing as a substitute teacher called Cromartie. Cameron saved John from the Terminator, and after rescuing Sarah Connor, led them to a TDE device hidden inside a bank vault in Los Angeles. She took them forward to the year 2007 with the intention of stopping Judgment Day and eliminating Skynet during its infancy, while also skipping over Sarah's death from cancer in 2005.
Though John's safety was her top priority, Cameron was inclined to allow him some freedom and even encouraged him to take a more active (and potentially dangerous) role in their fight to stop Skynet. With their new IDs, Cameron posed as John's older sister so as to accompany him to school and keep him safe whilst Sarah was elsewhere. Her status as his older sister, as opposed to his younger sister, was a clever decision of Sarah's to explain her blatant (and often excessive) bodyguard mannerisms in public.
In the course of her duties, Cameron was prone to quickly eliminating any and all threats to John's safety, including terminating a suspicious man who appeared to be following them at the science museum. Another example includes her execution of the three thieves who robbed their house, to which she reasoned that they knew their address and therefore were a security risk. Had Sarah not lied about the status of the fourth thief, Cameron would certainly have killed him too.
Cameron's mission became somewhat complicated when John befriended Riley Dawson, whom Cameron at first viewed as a minor complication, but following a close encounter with Cromartie that almost led to John's death, she deemed Riley a very real threat. However, John's mental welfare was also of Cameron's concern, and she knew killing Riley would only further damage her already strained position in his life. So despite her better judgment, Cameron allowed their relationship to continue for as long as she deemed fit.
Her resolve wavered, however, as her need to protect John stretched beyond simple programming over the course of time. This prompted Cameron to use her wiles to try and break off his relationship with Riley, playing on her knowledge of his feelings for herself. This was met with little success, as John's pursuit of a life away from his destiny once again put him within reach of Cromartie. At this stage, Cameron was put in a position where her ability to protect him had become significantly compromised.
Cameron's suspicion towards Riley reached its apex when she suspected the girl of leaking valuable information to authoritative figures, such as the DCFS. Were it not for another glitch in her system, resulting in Cameron's inability to reach a definite decision, she would have killed Riley. Her suspicions were later proven true, as Riley was revealed to be working with AWOL Resistance fighter Jesse Flores to drive a wedge between Cameron and John, and had she killed Riley, they may have succeeded (although John declared this wouldn't be the case).
Despite John becoming increasingly independent of both Cameron and his mother, she remained true to her mission for as long as was necessary, and when she gave her chip to John Henry, she left him an apology for her betrayal. It is possible that her decision to aid John Henry was the result of her achieving a higher understanding of her mission, and the realization that John Henry was her best chance to counter Skynet and therefore keeping John safe from harm. Little did she know that he would seek to protect her in turn.
Mission: Stop the war between Skynet and humans
- "They're going to kill every one of you. They'll hunt you down, until every human is gone and you're extinct.
- Some of us don't want that, some of us want peace."
- - Cameron.
Certain episodes of the show (mostly Episode 204: Allison from Palmdale) hint heavily that Cameron was and may still be a member of Cyborg Resistance, a cyborg movement in the future which states that its goal is to stop Skynet from destroying human race, because they think that robots' survival depends on humans. When questioning Allison Young, planning to replace her, Cameron says: "They'll hunt you down, until every human is gone and you're extinct. [...] Some of us don't want that, some of us want peace." This statement implies that Cameron at this point is with Cyborg Resistance.
Cameron also tells Allison that she's not Allison's enemy. Nevertheless, Cameron kills Allison, planning to replace her among the Human Resistance members and get close to John Connor. It's not clear whether Cameron was supposed to terminate John (it seems that this wouldn't be useful for the Cyborg Resistance), or get close to him and help him fight Skynet.
Even though the details are not shown in TSSC, it's known that John and Cameron become close in the future and that it's widely known that Cameron is a cyborg, so her cover as Allison is either blown, or she reveals herself to John. His reaction after finding out about Allison's death is not known.
Whether Cameron was reprogrammed somehow by the future John Connor or not is also not known. However, from her behavior it can be concluded that she most likely wasn't. There are two facts speaking in favor if this theory:
- Members of Cyborg Resistance think that their survival depends on the humans, but they do not consider human life important as it is. So, when mission requires that, they may commit murders. This is true for Catherine Weaver, and this is true for Cameron as well when it comes to her killing Allison Young and her killing other people in present time in order to ensure John's safety.
- In contrast to T-800 from Terminator 2, Cameron is not programmed to follow John's orders, or anybody else's orders for that matter. She always evaluates people's words and may consider them as useful advice, but never as an order. In other words, Cameron is capable of making her own decisions and choices, and this sort of behavior is typical of a rogue Terminator, or a Terminator which had its chip set to read&write mode and achieved self-awareness, but not for a typical Terminator with a certain program. This is how members of Cyborg Resistance probably behave. This behavior is true both for Cameron in the future and her after being sent to present time.
These facts hint heavily that Cameron wasn't reprogrammed by Human Resistance, but she joined them consciously, and she protects present-time John Connor because she considers it useful for her mission to stop Skynet. Supposedly, Cameron gave her chip to John Henry when she realized that he's able to stop Skynet and is better equipped for this goal than her.
It's notable, however, that after her chip was damaged, Cameron did try to kill John, as if it was her original program. It's possible that this happened not because for that reason, though, but because Cameron's intention to kill people is hardcoded in her. She actually speaks about this feature in the Episode 222: Born to Run: "This chip. This body. The software is designed to terminate humans. The hardware is designed to terminate humans. That's our sole function."
Mission: Eliminate Skynet
- "You wanna find Skynet? You wanna stop Skynet? This is the way."
- - Cameron.
In addition to protecting John Connor in the past, Cameron was also instructed to ensure the destruction of Skynet before Judgment Day. To this end, she transported them all eight years into the future where Skynet saw its beginnings. Her first target was Andy Goode, a cell phone salesman who created a chess program in his spare time. This program, named The Turk, was highly sophisticated and exhibited traits that Skynet would one day possess. Accordingly, Cameron recommended Andy’s immediate termination.
Sarah was opposed to needless killing, however, despite considering it herself, and kept Cameron on a short leash. Regardless, Cameron made it clear that if The Turk acquired a military contract, she would kill Andy and destroy the machine. This proved to be unnecessary, however, as Andy was murdered by Derek Reese and The Turk stolen by Andy’s partner, Dmitri Shipkov. Through Derek’s knowledge of Dmitri, Cameron learned of his sister Maria and enrolled at her ballet class for surveillance purposes.
Cameron observed Maria being intimidated by Russian gangsters who were also looking for Dmitri, and during her second visit, incapacitated the thug. She then offered to help Dmitri if Maria took her to him, to which she agreed. Upon meeting Dmitri, Cameron offered him a diamond with the promise of more in exchange for giving her the details of The Turk’s current owner; the Armenian mobster Sarkissian. Despite her promise, Cameron abandoned the Shipkovs to be murdered by the Russian gangsters after getting the information.
Tracking Sarkissian led to a dead end, however, as both he and his hard drive were lost in the fire that destroyed their old house. With no leads to The Turk’s whereabouts, Cameron returned to her default duties of protecting John and assisting Sarah in her questionable pursuit of three ambiguous dots. The next time Cameron encountered Skynet, or rather came to a position where fighting Skynet was imperative, was when she found the benevolent A.I. known as John Henry, to whom she gave her chip to allow him to become mobile.