Way back when I first asked to be allowed to post on the O-Deck, I promised Terminator rants, as Terminator rants are my favorite thing (sadly, the blog I wrote it on is now defunct, but I once wrote a three page paper on Terminator skin).
Today, I deliver on that promise.
So, inspired by Vincze's article from earlier today, I started to think about the Time Displacement Equipment from the Terminator franchise. The franchise has always fascinated me as the whole thing is one giant predestination loop. Even when our plucky heroes manage to grab a toehold, nothing ever really changes in the long run. Blow up Cyberdyne? You've bought yourself a couple of years at best before everything turns to ash.
Try to kill the mother of the resistance and later on the leader of the resistance? You've just ensured that he'll be born and that he'll have a good reason to rise up against you.
With that thought in mind, let's talk about the time travel machinery itself, the TDE. The TDE allows for biological matter to be transported through time on a one-way trip. I assume we all know the basic premise of Terminator, so I won't waste time going over it again. This leads me to my main point: how in the hell did Skynet, which up til then had been focusing on building androids and wiping out humanity, create a time travel device? Computers aren't capable of making the intuitive leaps necessary to build something like that. Heck, Skynet wasn't even a creative machine itself; humans tried to shut it down, it was a military defense program, so it defended itself, treating humanity like a computer virus and attempting to delete it.
So where does time travel come into the picture? We know that Skynet kept various humans alive for certain purposes; one would assume that scientists would probably be on that list, as scientists possess superior minds. Here's my theory: At some point in the future, someone invents a time machine. Skynet takes the schematics, builds a working machine, and sends the schematics back in time to itself. Now, we've just created a parallel timeline, in which Skynet knew how to build a time machine because Skynet already had the plans to build a time machine, which effectively pops the bubble of the original universe that sent those plans to itself.
How did Skynet come across poly-mimetic alloy? Where did Skynet come across the formula for vat-grown skin? Skynet is a dirty cheater, breaking the time barrier over and over again to ensure that it has the best advantage in its efforts to destroy its enemy... which brings us to John Connor.
John Connor is a living paradox; he exists because he sent his own father back in time, knowing full well the man was his father. Would he have existed otherwise? Possibly. Did John create a pocket universe himself by sending Kyle Reese back in time? Quite possibly.
John exists because John exists in the future. Terminator universe logic. Time travel exists in the future because time travel existed in the past existed in the future existed in the past.
Let's take this as far as humanly possible.
Let's have a Terminator story about how this temporal cold war (Sorry, Enterprise,) is so severely screwing up the timelines that there is now no future that does not contain some version of judgement day because of all of the meddling in the past.
The criminally cancelled Sarah Connor Chronicles played with this concept, showing us Terminators bouncing around in time all the way back to the 1920s, human resistance cells set up in place in the 2000s, and time displacement units already existing in the 1990s, having been built into the lining of a bank vault (whenever THAT thing was built originally).
The constant tagline from the series has always been that of "No fate but what we make," and I theorize that the deeper meaning here is that, through their meddling in time, the humans and machines have indeed made this fate an indelible one across a near-infinite plane of parallel timelines.