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Literature / T2 Trilogy

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The T2 Trilogy is a set of novels in the Terminator continuity, written as sequels to Terminator 2: Judgment Day by S.M. Stirling. When its existence is jeopardized by the destruction of the T-800 remnants in the 1990s, SkyNet sends Serena, one of a new breed of super-realistic cyborg stealth operatives, back in time to ensure its existence and, if possible, the destruction of the Connors. This forces the Connors to team up with Dieter von Rossbach, the Austrian-American ex-counter-intelligence agent who served as the base model for the T-800s, in order to stop SkyNet's plans.

The books are out of the main continuity of the series following Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which chose a rather different path for the universe to take, though they arguably inspired (or at least predicted) certain elements of that film. On the Terminator Wiki, they are treated as an alternate timeline. In any case, the trilogy consists of three novels:


  • T2: Infiltration (2001)
  • T2: Rising Storm (2003)
  • T2: The Future War (2003)

Tropes include

  • Alternate Continuity: The novels are this to all of the post-T2 movie continuities, setting up their own story that ties into the first two films.
  • Badass Family: The Connors. Sarah and John (John more than Sarah, initially) keep up their physical training (and paranoia) despite believing that they've destroyed SkyNet once and for all. Justified, since they are still wanted for terrorism thanks to blowing up a computer company. Their estancia in Paraguay has all kinds of hidey holes with military-grade weapons stashed away, just in case another Terminator comes calling.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: This is the only reason why Dr. Kurt Veimeister was allowed to work on the SkyNet program; as much as it disgusts Cyberdyne to employ a practicing Neo-Nazi, the truth of the matter is that he's the only man on the planet who has the programming knowledge to coax a computer into true Artificial Intelligence.
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  • Casual Danger Dialogue: In a Funny Moment, a Terminator is attempting to kill John, Sarah, and Dieter as they are leaving on a chartered plane. The Terminator is hanging on outside the plane, and the best weapon they have to deal with it is C-4. Sarah is spinning the plastic explosive in her hands into thin ropes, which they wrap around the Termiantor's arms and (eventually) neck to destroy it. Dieter comments that he's never seen someone work plastic explosive like that, and John says that Sarah does it the same way she does with dough for Christmas cookies, to which Sarah helpfully supplies the name.
  • Les Collaborateurs: SkyNet actually has a small contingent of humans who serve it in various capacities, ranging from humans who sold out in hopes of having at least some small comfort to eco-nut zealots who actively seek the destruction of humanity.
  • Cyborg:
    • The Infiltrator 950s are the most traditional example of this trope in the Terminator-verse (up until Terminator: Dark Fate), being human beings (with some extreme gene-modification) who are implanted with various cybernetic upgrades from birth, mostly focused on neural modifications. They can even reproduce sexually, though only with other I-950s or through parthenogenesis.
    • Serena has the most critical components for T-800 cyborgs surgically implanted in her body before being sent back through time, allowing her to create T-800s as backup.
  • Death by Sex: Averted for Sarah; She and Dieter become lovers, but survive through the end of the trilogy, played straight for John, who loses not one, but two lovers who die shortly after he sleeps with them.
  • Designer Babies: The I-950s. The basis for them were ova harvested from a female human survivor that managed to impress SkyNet, before being artificially grown to maturity, having their DNA spliced with select animal chromosomes, and implanted with neural cybernetic relays.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Cyberdyne's government liason/watchdog, who only goes by Tricker (not even Mr. Tricker).
    Is that is his first name or his last?
    Hell, for all I know it's his job description.
  • Evil Corporation: Averted. Cyberdyne might be responsible for SkyNet's existence, but they're actually being played for suckers by future!SkyNet and Serena; they just want to make a profit through innovative design in military cybernetics and programming, they have no idea that their creation is going to destroy civilization.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog:
    • Referenced; as per Terminator-verse canon, dogs can sense the artificial nature of T-800s and T-1000s and react with aggression. Seeing a stray dog instantly take a liking to Dieter helps reassure Sarah that he actually isn't another T-800 come to kill her.
    • Defied; I-950s have much more subtle cyber-components and so can pass the "dog test". While it's noted that dogs still won't like them, they won't immediately blow their cover.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: After being sent in the past, Serena is several times confused, impressed or annoyed by the differences between this time and the future where she comes from.
  • Heroic BSoD: John has a huge one after he realizes that the computer code he uploaded into Skynet's database at Cyberdyne's Antarctic base was tampered with by the I-950, and that he has, in fact, made Skynet sentient instead of sabotaging it.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: The T-800s; as Serena realises all too late, this makes them more remarkable amongst humans, making it much harder to deploy multiple ones at a time and go unnoticed. She attempts to get around it by artificially styling and coloring their hair to make them look at least a little different on a cursory inspection.
  • Irony:
    • SkyNet learned a significant part of its anti-human prejudice from its Neo-Nazi programmer.
    • Ronald Labane's efforts to set up a group of neo-Luddites would lead to that group's descendants actually helping SkyNet to destroy humanity for "the sake of Mother Earth".
      • Furthering the irony, as Serena notes in Infiltrator, SkyNet is actually more likely to destroy all life on Earth than humanity is, since it is neither hindered by the need for oxygen and organic fuels nor possessed of the emotional attachment that humans feel, however dimly, for other life. If SkyNet's needs are best served by massive smoke-belching factories that blot out the sun and poison air, earth, and water, SkyNet will have massive smoke-belching factories.
    • John Connor is almost directly responsible for SkyNet becoming sentient (see Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!).
  • Jerkass: Ronald Labane, a self-righteous eco-nut who abandons his commune, including his long-term lover and infant child, because he feels they have "sold out". In reality, he's a self-righteous, lazy, self-proclaimed leader and an all-around asshole, who blew up at them because they expected him to start actually working to help out around the commune instead of sitting around and typing up reams of drivel. He's end goal is to actually foment a Neo-Luddite uprising, to save the planet from wanton consumerism and impose a better set of values (namely, his) on everyone. He even cites the old chestnut about omelettes and eggs when thinking about the likely cost of his revolution.
  • Made of Iron:
    • The T-800s, obviously.
    • The I-950s are able to repress pain through their combination of intense training and neural implants, allowing them to keep functioning despite considerable injury. The computers in their brains can even keep them functioning for a short time after fatal organic damage (such as having half the I-950s head blown off). That said, they are still fundamentally organic human bodies, and so are much easier to take out than "proper" Terminators.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: John Connor is believed to have killed his foster parents, never mind that at his age at the time he didn't have the height or upper body strength to inflict those kinds of wounds, because who would believe a shapeshifting robot from the future could have done it?
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: Both John and Sarah, for blowing up Cyberdyne in Terminator 2. Well, technically they are terrorists, even if what they did was justified given the circumstances.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Serena takes a woman hostage and uses her apartment as a temporary base to set up an identity for herself in order to complete her mission. Before leaving, she takes some of the woman's clothes.
  • Naked on Arrival: Serena is naked when she is sent to the past, as is the norm for the series.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Enforced due to the trilogy conceit that history has an "inertia," and will mold events to play out as closely as possible. The more success John and Sarah have delaying or destroying SkyNet, the more events push back to bring SkyNet about. Taken to Up to Eleven in the second book, when they attempt to simply stop SkyNet from ever becoming sentient. Wendy Dorset basically has to write an AI program, then write a program to prevent AI from happening. But she forgot to label the disks, and ends up inserting the AI program first, and is promptly killed. Thus, Wendy, who was only involved because of her relationship with John Connor, actually makes SkyNet self-aware.
  • Not So Above It All: Serena and other I-950s do feel emotions, and so while they try to repress them, they are occasionally caught off-guard by them.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Deconstructed when Dieter takes a look at the unedited reports of the T-800s rampages; the leg actually has a number of major blood vessels that are very hard to avoid, meaning a leg-wound is actually pretty likely to be fatal. No human would be likely to make consistently non-lethal leg-wounds.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Serena couches it in terms of logic, but still, she chooses to leave the woman she mugs for initial clothing and shelter alive, and actively makes it her goal to avoid killing unless necessary during her efforts in Infiltration.
    • There's also her seemingly instinctive desire to protect the female slave who was her caretaker, even though she considers SkyNet to be her "true parent".
  • Psycho Lesbian: Serena is the typical Steve Stirling beautiful lesbian Action Girl in this novel, and suffers from severe Lack of Empathy due to being a semi-lobotomized cyborg.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: The neural implants in an I-950 can actually take over the body and use it like a meat puppet after the organic brain is fatally damaged. The heroes have to blast the brain to total mush, or sever the head, or just kill the body to stop one.
  • Retired Badass: Dieter von Rossbach, an ex counter-intelligence agent. The man was picked as the base for the T-800's disguise for a reason. Notably, John and Sarah initially consider Dieter more dangerous for the fact that he's retired, since he'll be bored and able to pursue idle fancies that cross his path (like the suspicion that his pretty next door neighbor and her well-mannered son are actually wanted terrorists).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Serena is trying to locate John and Sarah Connor, she hires a local private investigator (who's day job is a dishwasher in a restaurant and who watches way too many Bogart movies) to find them. When he does, she has the poor guy drive one of her Terminators out to deal with the Connors. The PI only hears the ensuing firefight in the distance, then decides that being a dishwasher isn't so bad.
  • Series Continuity Error: The novels make the same error as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, identifying the T-800 as a T-101. For the record, Terminator type featured throughout most Terminator media is the Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Terminator, or simply T-800. "Model 101" refers to the outer flesh coating a Terminator is given to create a distinct appearance.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Played straight, then deconstructed. Serena fakes a truly impressive resume to land a job as Cyberdyne's head of security, so she can protect SkyNet, but to add further incentive to hire her, during her interviews she subtly implies that some of her "upward mobility" was due to her "horizontal agility." The Cyberdyne directors are swayed but their security liaison immediately sees this as a red flag.
  • Truly Single Parent: A female I-950 can choose to self-fertilise and conceive a clone-daughter, which she can then either carry to term or implant in a human surrogate mother.
  • The Spartan Way: SkyNets efforts at rearing the I-950s, which started when they were babies; they would be given hologrammatic toys to chase and compelled to chase them as long as possible to build up physical conditioning and stamina. Those who failed were punished and eventually eliminated. Serena actually kills one of her brothers after he is judged "emotionally compromised".
  • The Stoic: I-950s do feel emotions, and SkyNet concedes that this is necessary for their function, but between their training and the chemical-regulating neural implants they sport, they are inhumanly cold and logical by nature.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Dr. Kurt Veimeister, the German scientist who is integral to SkyNet developing into a full-fledged AI, is a full-blown Neo-Nazi. Initially, Cyberdyne doesn't want anything to do with him, but is eventually forced to accept him because he is just that good. Infiltrator contains a chilling scene of him teaching the infant SkyNet to vocalise by reading aloud Mein Kampf, calling it "one of my favorite books". Serena can barely resist smirking, noting that this, more than anything, is laying the foundation for SkyNet's future genocide of the entire human species, not because the AI was persuaded by nazi propaganda, but because it showed the AI how dangerous and insane humans were, that they believed thimgs like that.
  • Villain Decay: Played With. Serena can make several T-800s, which sends against the Connors as Elite Mecha-Mooks. John and Sarah have a noticeably easier time dispatching them than in the films proper, but mostly because they know a lot more about the Terminator's vulnerabilities (and, for a change, usually have the right tools for the job easily to hand).
  • Weirdness Censor: Deconstructed. When Dr. Silberman makes his reappearance, his POV notes that he knows what he saw the night the Terminators came to the asylum was real, and that Sarah had been telling the truth the whole time. But knowing no one else will believe him, he uses his own psychiatric knowledge to go along with the counseling he gets, allowing himself to be talked into believing it wasn't real, into being "successfully treated" for his mild delusion that night. Seeing Sarah makes it all come back, he acknowledge that the always knew he was lying to himself, and he offers Sarah whatever assistance he can provide in her fight against the machines.
  • Western Terrorists: Neo-Luddites, of the "psychopathic ecological preservationsts" variety, actively serve SkyNet in the future, and are beginning to form around Ronald Labane in the present.

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