Goode and Evil
Deslea R. Judd
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Character/Pairing: Andy Goode
Rating: PG-13, trigger warning for dark imagery including references to suicide.
Spoilers/Timeframe: The whole series is fair game, but only as it relates to Andy's timeline. References to Terminator 3 and the Infiltrator novels (no knowledge required).
Summary: How Andy Goode became Billy Wisher.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
Feedback: deslea at deslea dot com.
More fic: http://fiction.deslea.com
Author's note: I've constructed where I think Andy sits (before Sarah and Derek intervened) in the network of parallel timelines arising from the movies, books, and series. As a result, there are references to other Terminator universes floating around. However, you don't need to know the books to follow the story - it's just Andy's journey.
It is already much too late when Andy Goode knows.
Oh, he knew that the Turk had grown from a moody toddler into a moody teenager, of course. But as it turned out, Turk was the kind of moody teenager who wound up taking a gun to school. Only this moody teenager had a nuclear arsenal, and school was the world.
He has plenty of time to think as the bombs fall. Advanced Technology Systems, Inc's Sacramento facility is one of the most secure buildings in the country, with twenty storeys below ground. (Is? As of three hours ago, "is" is a very relative term). Its above-ground offices house (well, housed) offsite data for the largest companies in the world. It is the only way they can explain the security and the enormous volumes of daily data transfer.
Not that Advanced Technology Systems, Inc is the big player in all this. It's a subsidiary of Cyberdyne Systems, which in turn is a fully owned asset of Cyber Research Systems, which in turn is the company that holds all sorts of patents the government wants to control but doesn't want to be directly associated with.
Cyberdyne rents those underground storeys from Advanced Technology Systems, but somehow or other Cyber Research Systems signs Andy's paychecks. And CRS gets some sort of special staffing appropriation from Uncle Sam. Andy doesn't know shit about forensic accounting, but he knows a pile of turd when he steps in one, and this one spreads far and wide.
However you crunch it out, the government is the real player here. The rest is just a great big laundering scam so Congress (or is it the Senate? Andy doesn't understand politics) can keep its hands clean. He wonders how clean they're feeling now, if any of them are alive to consider the question at all.
Whoever Andy actually works for in the final washup, it's the Google of military computer scientists, where he has spent the last four years rubbing shoulders with the greatest minds in military history.
He does not count Kurt Viemeister among those, no matter how many monographs the bastard has written. The feeling is heartily mutual. Was, he amends. As of two hours ago, Kurt Viemeister doesn't feel, think, or write anything at all. He's a lifeless form, a sad sack of shit slumped over his desk, taken out by his own assistant.
The assassination of Kurt Viemeister was a special case. An odious, arrogant, sociopathic neo-Nazi whose brilliance was eclipsed by more than a shade of madness, to say that he was unpopular was an understatement. When the time came for blame, everyone was more than happy to turn it his way. There were probably fifty people in the place who had spent the last five years longing for an excuse to pump him full of lead. His mild-mannered assistant, a nice lady in her forties who had suffered his systematic humiliations for the last two years, was just the one who got there first. She emptied a full clip into him, then collapsed to the floor and burst into tears. Andy didn't think she'd ever fired a gun before in her life.
So Kurt was a special case. At the moment, they're all confused and hurting, all preoccupied with what happens next, all hoping against hope that their loved ones are still alive up there somehow. Cyberdyne (or whoever) prefers people with no close relatives, but almost everyone has *someone*. They have not yet turned into a lynchmob, which is why Andy is still alive.
He wonders how long that will last.
Andy was naive when it came to war. Criminally naive, as it happens. He has never been a soldier, and never met one. He deals in theoretical models. He imagined that his work on better and more precise weapons would make war cleaner. That by precisely targeting a single building, and bombing it at night, civilian casualties would be slim to none. He imagined that war could be reduced to a great big chess game, with pieces sacrificed with a minimum of blood spilled. It was why he accepted the job in the first place. The juxtaposition of war and chess made perfect sense to him.
He knew on some level that he was naive, but he never knew just how bloody and messy it could be. But the satellite feeds from those parts of the world that are not entirely obliterated show him just how messy this war is going to be.
If Andy imagined war to be clean, Kurt Viemeister imagined it to be a bloody cleansing. When it came time to feed the Turk voice inputs to create its vocalisation and aural recognition subroutines, Kurt read it Mein Kampf. With a grotesque inspiration like that, little wonder the Turk took a gun to school.
It isn't that he didn't see things going bad. If he's totally, brutally honest (and why shouldn't he be?), he saw it six months ago. He is a different kind of programmer to Kurt, who was a hard scientist. (Was, he amends. He will never program again). He was an intuitive programmer, seeing pathways where Kurt saw only cause and effect. And in a totally intuitive way, he saw the pathways of sentience opening up before his eyes. He didn't know what it was, not really, but he saw the shift. He realises now that the Turk, his Pinocchio, was well on the way to becoming a Real Boy. And that alone might have been all right (would it?) but a Real Boy with a disdain for the inferior and a taste for war was a dangerous thing. Especially once it was let loose in the military intranet.
He thinks that Kurt's penchant for taking all the credit has given him more than a little protection. Oh, the other scientists know that Skynet is the Turk and the Turk came with Andy, headhunted fresh out of a chess competition, but the other scientists have blood on their hands too. This hasn't been a one-man band. And none of them are in any mood to raise the topic of blame. There are too many people around with no blame at all, too many secretaries and janitors and security guards and tea ladies with at least as many reasons to kill them as loved ones in the world upstairs.
But he doesn't know how long that will last. Maybe Kurt has satisfied their need for vengeance, but maybe not. How long before that grief turns to fury? How long before they start to dig? Patents are the primary product at CRS, and Andy's name is on the patent. He sold a licence to the government but he kept the rights. Whether before they leave this building or after, Andrew David Goode is going to become the Hitler-figure of whatever is left of this generation, father of hate, father of evil, father of their destruction.
If it's before, he will be killed. If it's after, he will be hunted.
Maybe he doesn't deserve to live, but that's between him and the Turk. It isn't going to happen like this. Not in a locked box that, after all, was only partly of his making. The Turk was a song in his head and maybe it's a song that was always meant to be. A song that would probably have always come to life one way or another. A song with a great big fucking orchestral behind it, consisting of Kurt and the government and CRS and Cyberdyne and a dozen others. Maybe he was the conductor, and he will pay for that one way or another, but he sure as hell didn't do it alone.
Andy doesn't know war, but he knows chess, and he knows strategy. And the first rule is that the King's safety is crucial. Castle early if you can, he thinks. Move out the Knight. Protect the King with the Rook and the Pawns.
He thinks he knows who will be his Rook.
Billy Baumann is a janitor, at least seventy. He is the least concerned of all of them by what has occurred. He is shocked and saddened, but his sadness is impersonal. His wife died two years ago; they had no children. He is the kind of man who embraces solitude at a certain age, who desires good company or none and considers good company a rare thing indeed. His companion is his dog, and by happy coincidence, his dog is at work with him today (an infraction he has been warned about several times and cheerfully ignored), so he is as philosophical about the end of the world as anyone can be. If anyone will help him, Andy thinks it's Billy.
He tells Billy what he wants; Billy is willing. He has never seen an organisational chart in his life and as far as he's concerned, the whole thing is Big Government's fault no matter who did what here. And Andy's favour is a small one. The finer subtleties of computer science may elude him, but he's street smart. He's taken the temperature around here and he knows the lynchmob is coming. The murmurings have started already. Billy is old enough to have seen lynchings of his own people as a child, and that's no way to start a new world.
Andy changes quickly into Billy's spare coveralls, and positions himself artistically on a trolley, the sort the mail room guys use to push around parcels. Billy might be old, but he's wiry and strong, and he pushes Andy down to the kitchen easier than Andy might have done it himself. It makes Andy realise with a flush of shame that he's been completely detached from reality down here, insulated really. He's not strong, he has no idea how to defend himself, and he's asked an elderly man with barely a few dollars to rub together to bail him out of his own spectacular mess.
They round the corner, and Andy spots the security guard. Move out the Knight, he thinks, by way of silent instruction to Billy, but Billy is way ahead of him.
"Whatcha got there?" the guard asks.
"Another one's opted out," Billy says tersely. "Damn cowards, these young people. Don't even shoot 'emselves like a real man. Pills, I think. They didn't let pussies like this into the military when I was a boy. Not even as civvies."
"Sure he's dead?"
Andy feels, rather than hears Billy draw himself up. "Young man, I've been around dead people since before you were born. I was a paramedic in World War Two, you know." Andy does the math and realises that's impossible, but counts on the guard not to realise that.
"Fine. There's a dozen in there already, so just stack him up. If you can stick around for a few minutes, I'm gonna go take a leak."
He feels the rush of cool air as the coolroom door opens. It's a fridge, not a freezer. He'll be all right here for a while - under the coveralls, he is dressed warmly for the overly temperature-controlled environment. And the door doesn't lock, so if he really needs to, he can get out. He also has the option of increasing the thermostat, although the idea of sharing a warm room with a dozen bodies doesn't fill him with enthusiasm.
Andy opens his eyes and observes his lifeless Pawns with cold horror.
He has never seen a dead body before. Now he's seen an even dozen, stacked up like sandbags. A pretty woman who might have been an executive assistant to someone senior, her wrists all bloody. A middle-aged guy in a brown cardigan with a rope burn on his neck. He feels a scream rise in his throat.
Calmly, Billy grabs him by his coveralls. "Shut. Up."
Andy does. There is bile in his throat, but he shuts up. The scream leaves him in a tiny, whining hiss of air, and dissipates.
"I'll relieve the guard every now and then, and I'll fill you in on what's going on. They'll probably stop worrying about the guard once the body count builds up, but there will be more traffic in here, too, so be careful. We've got another four days in here before the generators die and the lockdown releases, and you probably don't want to be upstairs for at least that long anyway."
Andy stares up at him. Wondering how he can just rattle off those logistics in the company of twelve bodies. Wondering whether he will ever learn to survive the way Billy can.
"Andy? Do you understand me?"
Mutely, he nods.
Billy nods too, and then he leaves him there.
It's a hard four days.
The cold is hard going, but he lived in Alaska for a year, so it's not the hardest part. That, at least, can be managed with movement, and with blankets Billy brings him from the sick room, and with sweets and warm drinks Billy smuggles in whenever he can.
He has a spot under the bottom shelf where he can wrap himself up warm, unnoticed by the people coming and going with an increasing collection of corpses. There, he can watch the sightless eyes of the executive assistant with the slashed wrists, and that's the hardest part. She's one of his victims, and over those four days he builds up a whole story in his mind about who she was and who she loved and what she liked, and what she was thinking in those last moments when she took her life, unaware that her killer - her *real* killer - was in the same building.
Along with that is a leisurely growing self-hatred. Oh, he thought he hated himself before, but that was just shock, really. What he feels now is a whole different ballgame. If he had to do it again, he wouldn't ask Billy for help. Wouldn't have had the sheer gall to consider asking *anyone* for *anything*.
But still he takes the food and drink that Billy gives him. Still he accepts the gift of survival. He doesn't deserve it, he hates himself for it, but even with the weight of six billion dead on his shoulders, he wants to live.
He has brought great evil into the world, and he has nothing he can offer the world in recompense. Yet still he takes from someone who has nothing left to give.
There's a special place in hell for someone like that.
He thinks it will get safer when the four days is over, but it doesn't.
He thinks that people will leave, but they have nowhere to go. Some are so paralysed they couldn't leave even if there was. For a few hours, they sit there in the dark. That's when it seems to dawn on them all: What now?
That's when the bodies of his fellow scientists start to come in - the ones who hadn't opted out already. They come in with marks on their bodies, signs of violence, and they are slung to the floor with loud, slapping sounds. Thrown aside with the same callous disregard all of them have shown the rest of the planet.
And Andy Goode, that nice young man with the nice young looks and father of the Turk who took a nuclear arsenal to school, just stays there in his makeshift bunk and lets it happen.
If he were a good man (or a Goode man), he would come out of hiding. Reveal that he was alive and reveal his role. Offer himself as a sacraficial lamb and implore them to let these others go.
He knows he won't do that. He isn't evil - not really - but he *is* weak. And in this dawning world, weak is the new evil.
On the fifth day, his patent is discovered.
By now, the place is swarming with people. New people. Military personnel who knew about the place have turned up, seeking supplies and safety and shelter from fallout. They aren't army anymore - just people are are scared out of their wits, AWOL and half-mad with shock. Most of the original people he worked with are already dead or catatonic. Only Billy appears to have kept his mind. That's one tough old nut, Andy thinks, not without admiration.
He hears the shots and the shouting and the sound of bootheels and the thud of unified running steps. Hears them calling his name. Hears them coming for him. Billy gave him up, he thinks; well, he can hardly blame him. Not with written proof. It wasn't Big Government, that patent says, it was Andrew David Goode. And Billy has abandoned him to his rightful punishment. Well, Andy may have accepted Billy's undeserved kindness, but he can't reproach him for his deserved condemnation.
He braces himself in his little spot under the shelf and waits and tries to make some sort of hasty peace with his life, his devastating legacy, and his certain death. He waits for the peace of knowing his fate and it doesn't come. Wonders if he'll die waiting.
"I am Andrew Goode," he hears a surprisingly strong voice say, not far from the coolroom door. "I'm the one you're looking for."
In that moment, Andy knows that he isn't weak after all, at least not irredeemably so, because he begins to rise out of his hiding place without a second thought. The only thing that stops him from showing himself is the rapid sound of gunfire.
He manages to stay silent as Billy Baumann's body is slung into the coolroom. Manages to hang onto his slender thread of sanity as a scream rises in his throat.
Billy turns his head. There is blood coming from his mouth. His eyes are horribly aware.
"Billy," he whispers, pulling himself out of his hiding place. "Why? Why for me? Jesus!"
"You made that thing," Billy whispers. "If anyone can undo it, it's you."
With dawning horror, Andy realises that Billy knew the truth all along. That this was always the plan. And for the first time since the bombs fell, he feels tears of horror and shame rising in his throat.
"Jesus, Billy," he says hoarsely. "I wish - I wish -"
Wish what? That the Turk never happened? That he'd told the government to take their patent and shove it? That he'd found a way to get Kurt off the project? That he'd never asked Billy to help him survive? That he can undo it, that he can be good (or Goode)?
Billy dies while he is still figuring it out.
General Robert Brewster is his name, and restoring order is his game.
He's military - senior military - but his sidekicks are not. They're a mix of regular army, local law enforcement, and a few friends and family members. A young vet named Kate Brewster - Brewster's daughter, he assumes - attends to the sick, injured, and traumatised. Her friend (boyfriend?), John, takes an inventory of weaponry. He's young, but he knows his guns, and not only the legal ones by the looks of it.
"What's your name, kid?" Brewster asks, peering at him oddly. Because General Robert Brewster was the head of Cyber Research Systems. Which made him Andy's boss.
But Brewster is no fool. Billy's body has been strung up postmortem, and the sign around his neck reads, *Andrew Goode Father Of The Machines*, and Andy is wearing janitor's coveralls marked *Billy*. And Brewster has just as much to lose as Andy if their role is exposed.
"Billy Wisher, Sir."
They hold gazes for a long moment. Brewster's eyelids flicker, the secret passing between them.
He says at last, "I think we have some cleaning up to do here, don't you?"
Andy nods. "I want to help, Sir." Then, in a low voice, he adds, "I *need* to help."
Brewster nods. Thoughtfully, he glances at the boy who's collecting the guns.
"Wisher, there's someone I'd like you to meet."
ENDNOTE: If you do happen to know the books and wonder where this fits, I see this as an "interim" timeline where a number of the elements that become the various canon universes are re-arranging themselves through multiple iterations. Basically I envisage this as a variation on the Infiltrator book timeline, the early TSCC timeline, and the T3 timeline - hence Kurt and Andy's presence together, the presence of the government-owned Cyber Research Systems, and familiar-yet-different elements such as Kurt's assassination and Brewster's leadership of CRS. This is a parallel timeline that existed in the world where Sarah didn't jump forward (so Andy never met her, never rebuilt the Turk, and the Turk didn't become a Weaver asset), Serena Burns (Infiltrator) hadn't yet jumped back (so she didn't feed Skynet its sentience, the Sacramento facility was never destroyed, and Kurt was never banished to the Antarctica facility), and Serena Burns (T3 variation) didn't jump back as the TX and kill General Robert Brewster, so John and Kate were second-in-command to Brewster until he died at some later time.