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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

at popapostle-dot-com
Terminator: Trial by Fire Terminator
Trial by Fire
Written by Timothy Zahn
July 2010

(Page numbers come from the paperback edition, second printing, July 2010)


Skynet makes a couple of bold plays after its defeat in San Francisco.


Notes from the Terminator chronology


This story takes place during the future war in 2018, just days after John Connor receives Marcus Wright's heart in a transplant procedure in a Resistance field hospital.


Didja Know?


This novel reveals that the Terminator Hybrid series is referred to as T-Hybrid or T-H. 


Didja Notice?


The book is dedicated to James Middleton, a producer on Rise of the Machines and Salvation and several Terminator tie-in projects.


The book opens with Jik on the run from a Terminator in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Sierra Nevada is a real mountain range within California and Nevada; the Crystal Peak bunker was also in the Sierra Nevadas in Rise of the Machines.


Pages 8-9 describe Jik's Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver, as the gun used by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies. In those movies (made from 1971-1988), Eastwood, as Detective Harry Callahan, does carry such a firearm.


Page 10 reveals that the "humans bury their dead, machines don't" line delivered by Kyle Reese to Marcus Wright in Salvation is actually something of an idiom in use by the Resistance, attributed by Barnes to a soldier named Kowlowski.


Page 11 reveals that Skynet is using additional hybrid Terminators as potential infiltrators. The first hybrid we saw was Marcus Wright in Salvation.


The town of Baker's Hollow near Slate River in the Sierra Nevadas plays a prominent role in the novel. Both the town, river, and their named environs are fictitious.


In John Connor's broadcast on page 12, he reports that Skynet Central in San Francisco has been destroyed. This occurred at the end of Salvation. But later in the novel, we learn the broadcast was hoaxed by Jik as part of Skynet's plan to infiltrate Baker's Hollow.


On page 15, Barnes is carrying a SIG 542. This refers to the SIG SG 542 7.62mm battle rifle made for NATO troops.


On page 16, Barnes' dead brother, Caleb, is mentioned. But in From the Ashes and the novelization of Salvation, his brother is referred to as Jericho. Either way, Barnes' brother was killed during the attack on the Skynet VLA, as revealed in the novelization of Salvation (cut from the film version).


On page 17, a Chinook helicopter lands near Barnes and Kyle. This would be the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, a large military copter used for moving troops or supplies.


Page 17 reveals the main Resistance camp is a 15 minute chopper ride away from the location of the Skynet VLA. It's not clear if this is the same camp seen in Salvation.


Page 18 shows that John is still in intensive care after the heart transplant operation depicted at the end of Salvation.


This novel introduces Hope Preston and their father Daniel. They do not seem to be related to the Preston family of Tom, Peggy, Jason, and Lisa seen in Timeline JD-4 in The Future War.


Blair and Barnes fly back to the ruins of Skynet Central in a Blackhawk. This refers to the U.S. Army's Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, in use since 1974.


Pages 28-29 feature a recap of the events of Salvation, in the form of Blair's thoughts on the recent past.


Page 31 states that Skynet was arming its T-700 Series Terminators with G11 caseless-round submachine guns. The G11 was a Heckler & Koch prototype assault rifle developed for NATO, with only about 1000 units produced in the 1970s and '80s. Either Skynet found a cache of them or it decided to begin manufacturing them! On page 136, Yarrow even remarks that the weapon was still in the prototype stage when Judgment Day happened, so Skynet must have modified a factory to build them on its own. It's hard to say why Skynet would be so interested in the G11 as to do that, since even the prototype was no longer being worked on after 1990, almost 15 years before the 2004 Judgment Day of the Salvation timeline.


On page 31, Blair looks over the corpses of fallen Resistance soldiers at Skynet Central, recognizing some, and feeling a tug at her heart and a small diminishing of herself. She vaguely remembers a poet writing of such things. She is thinking of the English poet and cleric John Donne (1572-1631) and his line from Meditation XVII, "...any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."


The author frequently uses the abbreviation "helo" for "helicopter". This is a fairly standard military abbreviation.


On page 42, Oxley tells Daniel that the Terminators are capable of pulling themselves back together if the parts are not damaged too severely. We see this later in the novel and it was also evidenced in From the Ashes.


On page 44, Oxley speculates there may be another Skynet hub in Missouri, besides its East Coast hub.


On page 46, Blair is still carrying her Desert Eagle sidearm, first seen in From the Ashes and also in Salvation.


On page 48, Barnes shoots down a Terminator with an M240. This is a machine gun manufactured since 1977 for the U.S. military.


Piloting the Blackhawk in a battle against an aerial HK on page 51, Blair wishes she was in her A-10 fighter. This is the A-10 Warthog she is depicted piloting in several previous stories.


Also on page 51, Blair wishes the Blackhawk had some pylon-mounted Hydra 70 missile clusters. Hydra 70 are real world aerial-fired rockets often mounted on the sides or underneath U.S. military helicopters.


On page 53, Blair performs a "drop and dust" in the Blackhawk, putting the copter on the ground and immediately back up again. I've been unable to confirm if the term "drop and dust" is an actual military or aviation term.


On page 59, Joel Vincennes tells Kyle he'll be taught Morse code as a member of the Resistance. Morse code is a method of communicating via a series of on-off signals such as flashes, tones, or clicks, invented by Samuel Morse (1791-1872).


On page 63, Daniel lights the wick of a hurricane lamp in his and his daughter's house. A hurricane lamp is another term for a kerosene lamp.


Page 68 mentions the genius mechanic Wince who maintains the aircraft used by John's Resistance group. Wince appeared previously in From the Ashes.


Page 68 reveals that when the injured John was being carried out of the Skynet Central facility near the end of Salvation, he was muttering about "Cyberdyne Systems Model 101". This is the T-800 model with the face of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger he fought inside Skynet Central.


Page 70 reveals that Barnes had pre-Judgment Day experience hot-wiring cars. Which means he may not be so different from Marcus Wright after all!


On page 80, Daniel pulls his Ruger 99/44 out of the closet in preparation for the town's attack against the T-700 posted at the river ford. This refers to the Ruger Deerfield Carbine Model 99/44 .44 Magnum semi-automatic rifle, manufactured 2000-2006.


On page 85, Barnes and Blair pick up a RAI 300 sniper rifle and a Mossberg M500 shotgun. These are real world weapons.


On page 98, Jik recalls an old saying, "The secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to live for." This is from the classic 1880 novel The Brothers Karamazov by Russian writer and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky.


Page 112 mentions events at Kyle and Star's former L.A. refuge with a group of people at the Moldavia Los Angeles building. These events occurred in From the Ashes.


Page 116 reveals that Star has a skill at disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling firearms. If she is a T-H as hinted at in the novelization of Salvation, her skill here may be related to her "robotic" memory and precision.


On page 117, Susan mentions the T-400s that "recruited" her from her group survivor home to work for Skynet. The T-400 was introduced as an older model Terminator in Timeline TT-1 in Dawn of Fate.


On page 118, Lajard, convinced that Skynet originally wanted to help humanity, claims that the term "Terminator" was originally meant for them to "terminate the chaos and crime that had become endemic across the world since the war." Few seem to believe him.


This book reveals that Cyberdyne's Angel Project to create a cybernetic-human hybrid, was reborn under Skynet after Judgment Day as the Theta Project, giving birth eventually to Marcus Wright (after some prototype models) and other hybrid humans introduced in this novel.


Chapter 13 reveals that Terminators tend to wreck their guns when they know they are about to shut down due to damage so that the weapons cannot be reused by humans.


On page 136, Kyle speculates that Skynet has been sending its T-700s out with the G11 caseless ammo guns so that humans cannot recover the spent casings for making new bullets.


Yarrow draws his Colt on page 146. This refers to any of a variety of handguns made by Colt's Manufacturing Company, which has been making world-renowned guns since 1855.


On page 154, Barnes guesses that Skynet may well have designed and built some small, ground-hugging Hunter-Killers. Apparently he hasn't seen any yet, but such Hunter-Killers are depicted in the Salvation timeline in "Sand in the Gears" Part 1.


Blair tells Jik on page 163 that Skynet puts teeth on the Terminator skulls for the psychological effect on humans, to make them look more like human skulls.


On page 165, Blair puts the pieces together and realizes the Theta Project is the program to develop Terminator/human hybrids, due to the T-H series designation and the fact that in the Greek alphabet the letter TH is theta. This is sort of true; the actual Greek letter called theta is the symbol "θ", but it is transliterated into the Latin alphabet as TH.


In Chapter 15, Kyle wonders why John Connor has taken an interest in a couple of inexperienced kids like himself and Star. Of course, we know it's because John knows that Kyle is going to grow up to become John's own father after a trip back in time to 1984.


In Chapter 16, Jik tells Blair and Barnes and the inhabitants of Baker's Hollow that his name "Jik" is a nickname from his childhood, a blending of his initials, J.C., believing himself to be John Connor. It turns out he is a T-H programmed by Skynet to believe he really is Connor. Jik is, at this point, described as having John Connor's voice (mimicked from Skynet's recordings of his frequent broadcasts) and Barnes even acknowledges to himself that Jik's voice had been naggingly familiar. It seems a stretch that neither Barnes nor Blair, knowing the real Connor personally, had recognized the voice sooner!


On page 186, Jik claims there are some paramilitary groups not associated with the Resistance in the Rockies. It's unknown whether this is true or just something Skynet programmed Jik to believe. "The Rockies" is a nickname for the Rocky Mountain range in Colorado.


On page 223, Lajard says, "Fortuna favet fortibus." This is Latin for "Fortune favors the strong." It is later speculated by the humans that this phrase was the trigger code that activated the Thetas' programming to kill the humans of Baker's Hollow. It may have been intended by Lajard as an ironically appropriate statement seeing as how the Thetas are stronger than humans physically.


On page 235, Jik decides he must soon go to the Eugene Resistance group, one of the groups that refused to follow Command's order to activate their transmitters in Skynet's earlier plan to destroy the Resistance. The group in Eugene, Oregon was revealed to have been one of the groups to follow John Connor's orders instead of Command's in the novelization of Salvation.


On page 246, Kyle reflects on his past experience using pipe bombs. Pipe bombs are improvised explosive devices, a small section of pipe filled with explosive material and sealed tightly at both ends and a fuse entering with a small hole.


Pages 264-265 have Lajard explaining that Skynet's plan for luring John Connor to Skynet Central with Marcus' unwitting help was not to kill him, but to make him a Theta and thus lead the Resistance to its doom. This is essentially what the original script of Salvation entailed, but the filmmakers ultimately chickened out of the John-Connor-as-Terminator ending and came up with the mediocre (at best) ending the film was finally saddled with.


On page 278, Jik, still thinking he is John Connor, is about to tell Barnes where he (John) was born before Barnes cuts him off. Our only reference to where John was born is in Timeline JD-3's Dark Futures, where it is stated he was born in Mexico.


On page 283, Lajard says, "Dies irae," as a trigger to stop the damaged Theta Susan Valentine from attacking him. Dies irae is Latin for "day of wrath". It may also be Lajard's ironic appropriateness showing again, as "Dies Irae" is also the title of a 13th Century Latin hymn about God's day of judgment on humanity.


On page 305, Kyle senses that someday he will have to sacrifice his life for John Connor and the fight against Skynet. He does this as an adult in The Terminator.


On page 306, John says that Kyle, Callahan, and Zac will soon become part of Echo platoon.


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