Like all machines, Cromartie was created to complete a specific mission. Following the failure of both the T-800 and the T-1000, Cromartie the T-888 was assigned the task of terminating John Connor in his youth. Here is a detailed account of his mission progression and eventual outcome.
Mission: Terminate John Connor
In the year 2027, Skynet sent two assassins back in time to terminate John Connor; the future leader of the Resistance. Both these agents failed in their mission, despite the competency inherent in these machines. At an unknown time in 2027, Skynet created and activated a T-888 unit and programmed it to terminate Connor in his youth, hoping that it would succeed where the others had failed.
The T-888 was sent via TDE equipment to the year 1999, where a 15 year-old John was living off the grid with his mother, Sarah Connor. It is unknown how long the Triple-8 tracked the Connors, but given how difficult it was for the FBI to find them, it is likely the machine took a wait-and-see approach. By hacking into the FBI database, the T-888 granted itself a means of monitoring their information traffic while it remained in a stand-by state to conserve power.
After an undeterminable amount of time, the Triple-8's computer intercepted a file from the FBI that detailed a recent sighting of Sarah. Using the information in the file, the T-888 learned that Agent James Ellison was in charge of the investigation and likely followed him to Red Valley, New Mexico. Here the machine visited the residence of Mr. Ferguson, a science teacher at Crest View High School, and terminated him so as to enter the school under the guise of Ferguson's substitute with the alias 'Cromartie'.
He attended the class and started calling out the students' names while cutting into his right leg to gain access to a Glock 17 handgun he had stored there (presumably to fool the metal detectors at the school). Upon reaching the name 'Cameron Phillips', Cromartie was met with suspicion by the young girl, who regarded him with scrutiny. He then called the name 'John Reese', to which a boy quietly raised his hand in acknowledgment.
Identifying this as his target, Cromartie removed the gun from his thigh and fired two shots at the boy, but years of survival training taught John to duck in time to avoid the bullets. Cromartie fired again, but this time John was shielded by the girl Cameron, who took two shots to the chest and collapsed beside him on the floor. John proceeded to bolt for the nearest window and leapt through, escaping out into the open.
Cromartie, ignoring the screaming adolescents and seemingly deceased Cameron, pursued John into the school car park and began a game of cat and mouse between the cars and trucks. Using his sheer strength, the Triple-8 pushed a school bus onto its side and stood atop of it, scanning the park through an infra-red heat vision. Detecting the white figure of John hiding behind a truck, Cromartie opened fire and found the youth lying between two cars.
By rights his mission should've ended there, but for the intervention of Cameron; who smashed into him with a truck, John Connor was able to escape to safety. Cromartie decided to lie low and patrolled the school perimeter where he found Sarah watching the police activity from afar. Surprising her, the machine pinned Sarah to the ground and stopped her from committing suicide, confirming his intention to use her against her son.
At this very moment, Sarah's cellphone rang and Cromartie answered, using Sarah's voice to trick John into meeting him at their safe-house. He then knocked her unconscious and carried the woman to the safe-house, plonking her in a chair while he awaited John's arrival. After a few moments, a figure in a hooded jacket entered the house and called out to Sarah. Confirming his voice patterns as belonging to John, Cromartie shot the boy several times until he dropped.
Upon examining the body, however, Cromartie discovered it to be Cameron in disguise and a fight immediately broke out between the two cyborgs while Sarah retrieved a shotgun from a compartment in the wall. She shot Cromartie several times with little effect, prompting him to force her to cover with a few shots of his own. After which Cameron engaged the Triple-8 in hand-to-hand combat, resulting in the destruction of the entire upstairs area.
The floor eventually collapsed as the Connors made their escape, and Cameron succeeded in disabling Cromartie with an electrical overload from an exposed power cable. 120 seconds later Cromartie rebooted and likewise fled the scene. He took refuge in a garage and tended to his injuries, fixing the cut in his leg with duc-tape whilst consulting his memory banks, learning the license plate on the truck the Connors were currently using.
Assuming the Connors would seek the destruction of Skynet once again, Cromartie visited the Dyson residence and his prediction was proven accurate as the Connors attempted to escape in Tarissa Dyson's SUV. He gave chase and sprayed the vehicle with his assault rifle, but was incapacitated when Cameron remote-detonated a bomb inside their truck, catching the Triple-8 in the blast and distracting him long enough for them to scarper.
Once again using his tap in the FBI database, Cromartie learned that the Connors were attempting to rob a bank and immediately proceeded to that location, ignoring the armed police units as he smashed his way inside. The Connors had locked themselves inside a bank vault, and so Cromartie proceeded to dismantle the vault door, a lengthy process that bought them enough time to activate a TDE device and construct a primitive plasma weapon.
Upon tearing the door of its hinges, Cromartie entered the vault and was immediately struck by the plasma weapon, which simultaneously burned off his flesh and removed his head from his body. The head, which was still partially covered in skin at the time, followed the Connors to the year 2007 whilst his body remained behind in the '90s. His head bounced off a car and landed in a ditch at the side of the road where it was later discovered by a road-sweeper, who bagged it as a curio and took it home.
Priority Override: Repair and Rebuild
Since his chip was still intact, Cromartie reactivated himself for a few brief moments and sent a command to his body, alerting it to his location and initiating a recovery protocol. The body, using some form of extra-sensory perception, reactivated beneath a pile of rubble from what remained of the bank. It located and terminated a groundskeeper and his dog, taking the man's clothes and placing his severed head onto its body with a biker helmet to hide the decay.
The body located the skull and reattached it, terminating the road sweeper in the process. Covering itself in the garments of the homeless, the Triple-8 set out in search of a means to grow back its infiltration sheath and broke into a hospital to steal blood packs for the procedure. He then learned of a geneticist called David Lyman who was researching skin regrowth and provided him with the correct formula in exchange for being the doctor's test subject.
The procedure proved to be a success, although the skin set itself in such a way that Cromartie resembled a severe burn victim and lacked eye tissue. He killed the scientist and took his eyes, however, solving that problem. But his appearance still needed perfecting, so he broke into a plastic surgeon's office and checked the patient files, finding and choosing the face of actor George Laszlo, whose face was a 92% structural match.
He then forced the surgeon to operate on him, giving him Laszlo's face and correcting the imperfections to his skin. Once this was complete, he terminated the surgeon and sought out the real Laszlo, whom he also killed as per the duplication rule ("Typically, the subject being copied is terminated"). Cromartie was later visited by Agent Ellison, who was tracking the deaths of the scientist and the surgeon, and gave "Laszlo" a warning that someone may be trying to steal his identity.
Cromartie, knowing the FBI to be a potent tool, took Ellison's visit as an inspiration and hacked into the FBI database, allowing him to create an agent file under the alias 'Kester'. He then used this guise to continue his search for the Connors and started at the only link he knew of: Charley Dixon, Sarah's ex-fiance. Cromartie visited Charley at home and pressed him for information regarding Sarah's location, accusing him of hiding her somewhere. Charley told him otherwise, however, and Cromartie left a contact card with him before leaving.
He then tried to acquire the Sarah Connor casefile, but it was currently being reviewed by Agent Ellison. It wasn't long until Cromartie's subtefuge was discovered, however, as Ellison's own investigation led him straight to 'Kester' and the face of George Laszlo. Though Ellison knew of Cromartie's true nature, the FBI treated him as a possible terrorist and an HRT squad was put together under Ellison's command to apprehend 'Kester'.
They assaulted Laszlo's apartment where Cromartie was staying, forcing him to confront the entire team, killing every one of them besides Ellison; whom Cromartie deemed a valuable asset to finding the Connors. He then left the scene and kept a low profile, all the while watching Ellison from the shadows. He followed the agent to the burnt out house where the Connors were living previously, but they were long gone and unlikely to ever return. Ellison swore he would never lead him to the Connors, but Cromartie was undeterred and simply walked away.
Further surveillance of Ellison revealed him to be in recent and frequent contact with Charley Dixon. Identifying Charley as an opportunity, Cromartie followed him and his wife out of the city and successfully captured Michelle Dixon at a gas station along the M14. Cromartie predicted that Charley would contact Sarah for help in rescuing his wife, and took Michelle to an abandoned shack not far from the gas station and tied her up.
He left her cell phone within Michelle's reach, knowing she would try to call her husband. She gave Charley her location, after which Cromartie interrupted the call and attached a fake bomb onto the bottom of her chair. He then left the shack and hid inside the nearby out-house while Charley, Sarah, and Derek Reese arrived. As they searched the shack, he disabled their car and took his own into the desert.
There he waited, monitoring all calls from the shack by tapping into a cell tower. Sarah, having realized Cromartie's trick, called John and advised him to stay in the open with Cameron. Cromartie intercepted the call, learning the challenge code the Connors used and John's cell number. He then texted a code to a remote bomb device set up in the shack, blowing the cell tower and causing it to collapse onto the building. Though nobody was killed (Michelle was fatally injured), the absence of the tower disabled their ability to contact John and warn him.
Cromartie called John and, using Sarah's voice, ordered him to go to the Santa Monica pier and wait for him. Upon arriving at the pier, Cromartie scoured the promonade in search of John, eventually spotting him trying to go incognito. John bolted, but Cromartie was hot on his heels and cornered him at the end of a fisherman's walk. However, the person Cromartie confronted was not John, but had been given the boy's jacket and glasses to fool him.
Using this distraction, John emerged from beneath a stall and ran back onto the main deck with Cromartie close behind. With no where else to go, John jumped off the pier and into the sea. Cromartie fired several shots, none that hit, before jumping in after the boy. Knowing he would sink, Cromartie managed to grab John's coat and drag him down to the bottom, but John wiggled free from the coat and escaped to the surface while Cromartie plummeted to the depths.
By the time he emerged from the sea, John was long gone and with no leads to follow him with, Cromartie attended Michelle Dixon's funeral in case the Connors should appear. Charley's trail ran cold, so Cromartie went back to monitoring James Ellison instead, saving him from a T-888 replacement sent by Skynet. Given that Ellison was still a valuable asset, Cromartie had no qualms about destroying another Skynet agent.
With taps in various databases, it wasn't long before Cromartie received a report from a half-way house that provided a picture of Cameron, John's cyborg companion. Following the report to its source, Cromartie enquired at the half-way house's reception with little success at first, but caught the attention of a girl named Jody who recognised Cameron from the print-out Cromartie carried with him (taken from the bank raid CCTV footage).
Claiming to be Cameron's uncle, Cromartie questioned Jody as to the cyborg's location, learning that she encountered John Connor also (who identified himself as John Baum). Wishing to trace Connor's steps, he followed Jody to the local grocery store where she believed Cameron was picked up by the police weeks earlier. Unbeknownst to Cromartie, he came extremely close to finding John (who coincidentally happened to be shopping there at the time), but was continually distracted by Jody's nuisances.
Unable to locate him, Cromartie asked the staff if they recognised John, learning that he and his "sister" (Cameron) shopped there frequently. Going by this information he deduced a high probability that the Connors lived within a mile of the store. He began systematically driving from house to house, showing the residents pictures of John and Cameron, much to Jody's disdain. Bored and unnerved by Cromartie's "stalking", she demanded he return her to the half-way house immediately.
Given that she was no longer of any use to his mission, Cromartie booted her out of the car and drove off, leaving her in the street. He eventually came upon the residence of one Kacy Cotton, the Connors' landlady, whom expressed ignorance of the Connors and Cameron (having gotten a bad feeling from him). Undeterred, he visited the Connors' house and knocked on the door, only to be greeted by Riley Dawson (John's girlfriend).
She expressed no knowledge of the Connors, but upon hearing a suspicious noise in the house, Cromartie barged inside against Riley's wishes. Ignoring her demands that he leave, Cromartie searched the house and took note of several photos on the fridge, commenting that Riley was not present in any of them. She argued that she was the one taking them, hence her absence. Cromartie considered the situation for a moment, but after Riley threatened to call the cops, he thanked her for her time and promptly left.
He resumed his search of the local area until receiving information regarding a credit card charge at a bowling alley in Alien Lanes; the card being registered to Sarah Baum. Upon arriving at the alley he discovered the bodies of three men, recently terminated by Cameron for burglaring the Connors' safe-house. Cromartie found the fourth thief alive and terrified in the lavatory, and promptly tied him up and enquired as to the Connors' location. Fearing he'd share the same fate as his friends; the boy gave him their address.
Cromartie presumably killed the boy thereafter, having learned that the house he met Riley in was in fact the Connors' household after all. He kept watch on the house, waiting for an opportunity where both Cameron and Derek were absent (as both are trained in destroying Terminators). When Cameron left one morning, Cromartie entered the house and surprised Sarah, dragging her up to John's room only to discover him missing, to both his and Sarah's surprise. She refused to cooperate of course, so he rendered her unconcscious and waited.
Later that evening, John called Sarah on her cellphone and Cromartie answered, but was not familiar with the Connors' new code challenge, and inadvertently tipped John off to his subterfuge. Regardless, he tracked the call to a jail in Mexico and drove there with Sarah tied up in the back. He commented on her change of stategies and revealed how he learned their location. Sarah managed to free herself and attempted to flee, but Cromartie recovered her and threw her into the trunk instead.
Upon arriving at the Dejalo jail, Cromartie asked to see John, but was refused admittance by the authorities. Choosing a less subtle approach, Cromartie drew a Glock 17 from his bag and shot down the chief and several officers as he searched the cells, learning that John had recently escaped. He left the jail in time to spot John, Riley, and Ellison commandeering his car. Cromartie opened fire with both the Glock and an SMG, but they managed to escape before he could catch them.
An hour or so later, whilst searching the town, Cromartie spotted Ellison retrieving a medical kit from his car and followed the former agent into a church. Little did he know that though Ellison had indeed led him to the Connors, he had also led him straight into a trap as Derek Reese and Sarah opened fire with SMGs from two narrow windows above. Cromartie returned fire, but the continuous hits to his body impeded his aim and movement.
This was only a distraction, however, as Cameron approached from behind with a combat shotgun (loaded with depleted uranium shells). Before Cromartie could react to her presence, she fired four times into his face, dealing severe damage to his skull. Unable to function, Cromartie dropped to the floor as his mission was met with critical failure. Sarah, Cameron, Derek, Ellison, and finally John himself gathered around his beaten body, and the last thing Cromartie ever saw was his primary target pulling the trigger of a Desert Eagle; obliterating what remained of his skull.
Cromartie's CPU was then smashed to pieces by Sarah some time after, putting a permanent end to his mission.