Terminator Salvation: Trial by Fire

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Authors: Timothy Zahn
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction, adventure, Media Tie-In
vulnerable,” Hope suggested. “I was thinking one of Halverson’s carbon shafts with a broadhead at point-blank range.”
    Preston pursed his lips. “No,” he said. “We’d want an aluminum shaft. Better electrical conduction.”
    Hope’s face lit up. “So I can try it?”
    “Whoa, girl,” Preston said, holding up a hand. “That’s not Plan A, B, or anywhere else in the alphabet. That’s an absolute last resort.”
    Her face fell. “Oh.”
    “What I want from you ,” Preston continued, “is your thoughts of where you’d move everyone if we had to abandon the town.”
    Her eyes were steady on his.
    “You think we’re going to have to?”
    “I don’t know,” Preston said, his eyes flicking around the room. It was an old house, the house he’d grown up in, and the hard years since Judgment Day hadn’t been very kind to it. But it was still weather-tight, and more comfortable than a lot of the other houses in town.
    More than that, the house was his . His and Hope’s. It was their home, their sanctuary, and one of the few things left in their lives that still resonated with the memories of Hope’s mother. The thought of abandoning it, even in the face of a Terminator attack, grated more bitterly than anything else that had happened since her death.
    “I’d rather not,” he said. “But if that Terminator decides to cross the river, we may have to.”
    “Boy, that’s a tough one,” Hope murmured, her eyes taking on the faraway look that meant she was thinking hard. “We’d want to settle near one of the old upslope hunting cabins. That would at least give us a place to store whatever supplies we were able to bring.”
    “But there wouldn’t be enough room for anything except supplies in any of the cabins,” Preston pointed out. “Especially since the biggest is the Glaumann place, which is a little too close to the river for comfort. At least, for now.”
    “So we’d need tents,” Hope continued, still gazing into space. “Lots of them. And pallets and blankets.” Her eyes came back. “We haven’t got them,” she concluded quietly. “Not for eighty-seven people.”
    Her father nodded. He’d already run through the same logic on the trip back from the river. “Which means we’d either have to split up the town among the various cabins, putting everyone inside that we could, or else throw together some kind of big group shelter.”
    “If we’d have time for that,” Hope said doubtfully. “And any kind of building project would take people off hunting duty. We can’t afford to do that for more than a couple of days.”
    “Agreed,” Preston said. Her conclusions were a vindication of his own thought processes, but that was pretty cold comfort. He would rather that she’d spotted something he’d missed. “Well, at least we know what we’re up against,” he said, forcing himself out of the couch. “You’d better get back to bed. It’s been a long day, and tomorrow will probably be worse.”
    “Unless the Terminator attacks tonight,” Hope said soberly as she gathered her blanket together and levered herself out of the broken chair.
    “In which case, we won’t have to do any planning at all tomorrow,” Preston said grimly. “And pleasant dreams to you , too.”
    “All part of my daughterly duty,” Hope said, forcing a smile she clearly didn’t feel. “Don’t worry, Dad. We’ll get through this.”
    “I know.” He wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug. She hugged him back, and for a moment hunger, cold, and even Terminators could almost be forgotten. Then, reluctantly, he let go and kissed her on the cheek. “Now off with you,” he said, patting her shoulder.
    “Right.” She gave him a wry look. “Like I’m going to be able to sleep now .”
    Back outside the demolished lab, Williams had set herself a thirty-meter perimeter while she was on watch. Out in the middle of nowhere, Barnes made his perimeter a full sixty meters. Just to prove he could do

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