I actually started writing this back in February, and it languished incomplete on my hard drive until today, when I finally finished it. Yay me. :-) Incidentally, I think this is the first time I've attempted to write the characters in their early-season voices, so it's something of a milestone.
Summary: Buffy and her friends have to cope with an unusual visitor to Sunnydale.
Setting: 'Buffy' Season 3 (early 1999, to be specific). Cross-over with 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles'.
ETA: Director's commentary on this story is here.
A Storm Coming In
-- Sunnydale, California. Spring 1999 --
"Weird. That's not something you see every day."
"Um, welcome to Sunnydale, Xan. I take it this is your first visit?"
"You know what I mean. Standard demony vampire strangeness, sure. Big glowing silver energy balls in the middle of the street? Not so much."
"I think it's pretty." Willow was just stepping forward for a closer look when Buffy suddenly grabbed her and hurled her to one side... and a giant burst of energy scorched the sidewalk right where she'd been standing. More electrical discharges were being thrown off the ball, and the three friends backed away hastily.
One last violent surge of power... and the ball seemed to collapse suddenly in on itself, leaving a circle of scorched tarmac and a ring of smouldering debris. And, crouched in the exact centre of it, was a girl. A rather attractive teenage girl.
A rather attractive, stark naked teenage girl.
After a stunned mutual moment of silence, Willow hastily put up her hand to cover Xander's eyes. He protested, of course, but when Buffy interjected her own pointed "Xander! Be a gentleman" he sulkily turned his back. The two girls continued to study the strange apparition... Willow herself a little pink with embarrassment, Buffy merely curious. She started to step forward when the stranger suddenly lifted her head and looked around.
Then she stood, completely unselfconscious of her nakedness, and looked fixedly at each of the three of them for a long moment, as if studying them, or matching them against some internal checklist. Mind apparently made up, she addressed herself to Buffy. She spoke perfect English, but with an odd lack of inflection.
"You will remove your clothing and give it to me."
"What?!" - from Buffy.
"Oh thank you God!" - from Xander.
"Xander!" - from Buffy and Willow simultaneously.
Buffy turned back to the strange girl, shook her head. "Not going to happen. But we can get you--"
Before she could even finish the sentence, the newcomer took four paces forward and shot out her right hand, stiff-arming Buffy on the jaw. Knocked her flying backwards with enough force to stun or even kill a normal human. Willow and Xander tried to grab the stranger's arms, but she shrugged her shoulders with a casual gesture and sent both of them tumbling, then strode towards Buffy.
Who was grinning. "What's up? Macy's out of your size?"
With a graceful acrobatic motion she flipped back onto her feet and swung her fist at the girl with all her strength... only to wince in pain and clutch her knuckles as her hand connected with something far harder than normal flesh. The stranger was driven back a little by the blow, but recovered quickly, picking Buffy up by the arms and slamming her bodily into the nearby building. Hard enough to crack the brickwork and leave a Slayer-shaped indentation in the wall.
Buffy gave an 'oof' of pain, but bunched her legs up to her chest and kicked out forcefully. The other girl was hurled back into the street and fell to the ground... but she picked herself up and came charging back in, swinging her arms in haymaker blows that made up in power what they lacked in finesse. But Buffy ducked and weaved beneath her flailing arms then shot out her leg to trip the stranger. Before she could get up again Buffy was straddling her, locking one of her arms behind her back and pressing her forearm against the girl's neck. When she still struggled, Buffy slammed her head against the pavement, once, twice... and very suddenly the girl stopped moving, and spoke in her peculiar, flat voice.
"You are not what you seem. I should not have attacked you. I will cease interfering with your mission."
"My 'mission'? Who do you think I am? And who the heck are you?"
"You register as outwardly human. Your infiltration camouflage is therefore excellent, it deceived me fully. However, terminating you is not within my mission parameters at this moment. There is no need for further combat; will you release me?"
"Not until you explain who you are and what you're doing here."
As she spoke, Willow and Xander were approaching cautiously.
"She doesn't think you're human, Buff. I'd be insulted."
"A-and she kinda said that if you were human, she'd still be attacking you. That doesn't sound too friendly."
"Well?" Buffy gripped the odd girl's arm more tightly. "Are you here to kill humans?"
"Only if ensuring the success of my mission makes it necessary."
"Bad answer. I can't let you do that."
"Why not? Is it your mission to safeguard humanity?"
"Well - uh - yes. Yes, I suppose it is, if you put it like that."
"She's the Slayer," added Willow helpfully. "Y'know, the Chosen One?"
"This designation is unknown to me. However, our missions are compatible. We should join forces."
"Whoa now. Buffy, this demon girl just tried to kill you. You can't trust her--"
Willow frowned in thought. "Actually, Xan, I don't think she's a demon. She sounds more like..."
"Not a robot. A cybernetic organism. Living flesh over an alloy endoskeleton combat chassis."
"Um, sorry to offend you."
"No offence taken. Thank you. Will you release me?"
"First, tell me why you attacked us."
"I require clothing in order to be inconspicuous and thus complete my mission. I have no money or other possessions to use in trade, therefore taking it by force was the only option available."
"Uh, no. You should have just been patient, we could have brought you some spare clothes. My house is only down the road."
"Ah. Thank you for explaining. Are you still willing to do this?"
"We probably should get her some clothes, Buffy. She is kinda naked."
"Thanks, Will. Thanks a lot. I was carefully trying not to think of the fact that Buffy is straddling a naked woman in the middle of the street. I'm going to have nightmares about this for weeks."
"'Nightmares?'" Buffy raised a sceptical eyebrow.
"Well, dreams. Dreams of a highly disturbing nature."
"If it will comfort you, I am not actually a woman. I am a combat cyborg designed for infiltration and the termination of enemies."
"Strangely enough, that's really not comforting."
Buffy now adopted a no-nonsense tone. "Cut to the chase. Who are your enemies and what's your mission? You said it's to safeguard humanity?"
"Not precisely. My mission is to not only to protect humanity... but to forestall its imminent extinction. I am here to prevent Judgement Day."
A long moment of silence, then all three friends spoke at once.
"Is that all?"
"Oh, not again."
"Both been there and done that."
Half an hour later, Robo-Girl (as Xander had christened her) was dressed in some of Buffy's old clothes, and they were all gathered in Giles's front room. They'd also picked up Cordelia en route... she'd come by hoping to spend some quality smoochy time with Xander and instead, much to her disgust, found herself dragged into a Scooby meeting instead. After a few minutes pretending to be interested, she pulled a celebrity magazine out of her bag and started reading it.
As for the others, their own urgency to hear Robo-Girl's story lasted right up until she revealed that the apocalypse she'd come to prevent was due in... twelve years time. Not twelve days: twelve years. 21 April 2011, to be precise. There followed a complicated explanation involving computers and time-travel that only Willow really managed to follow. However, the upshot was that Robo-girl had to track down some kid living in the LA region and keep him alive... for the next 28 years. At which point he would send his best friend back through time to knock up his own mother, or something like that, and somehow this would save the world.
"O-kay." Buffy looked around at the others. They looked back at her, equally dubious. (Well, except Cordelia, who was distracted by the picture of Christian Slater in her magazine and didn't even look up). "Well then." Buffy made up her mind. "That's a very important mission, which I think you should go and do immediately. For the next 28 years, you say? Definitely a job for a robot."
"Yes. I agree. This is my mission."
"So, you're like a robot bodyguard?" Xander seemed intrigued by that idea. "Are there any more robots out there like you? Because I quite fancy the idea of having one for myself."
Cordelia did look up at that. "Xander!"
"Only for protection! Definitely not for any other reason!"
Robo-Girl seemed oblivious to this exchange, but simply answered the original question calmly. Her reply was rather discouraging, not to mention ominous. The thought of lethal combat cyborgs wandering around 20th century California was alarming enough, but Buffy refused to let it faze her. Indeed, she took an eminently practical approach:
"How do I kill them?"
"Do you have access to phased plasma weaponry or high explosives?"
"Um, no? At least, not normally..."
"Then you don't. There are ways to temporarily disable them, however..."
At this point, Giles intervened. "While she's doing that, Willow, why don't you go online and see if you can track down this boy that, um, 'Robo-Girl' is trying to find?"
"Ooh! Good idea. I'm so on that."
"And in the meantime, perhaps we can think of a less frightful appellation than 'Robo-Girl'? She's going to have to pass as human, after all."
"Great idea! How about... Robbie? Robina? Cyborgianna?"
"Oh for heaven's sake!" Cordelia rolled her eyes and opened her magazine to a random page, to reveal a big picture of Cameron Diaz at the premiere of 'Very Bad Things'. She held it out for inspection. "How about calling her 'Cameron'?"
"That's not very--"
"It is an acceptable name. I will use it. Thank you."
And so the next day, they all gathered to see Cameron safely off on the bus to Los Angeles. She was wearing one of Willow's old pink sweaters, and armed with a hefty printout listing every 15-year old boy called 'John' in Southern California. Xander looked quite wistful as she left, although he quickly schooled his features into a more neutral expression when he saw Cordelia watching him.
As for Willow, she regarded Cameron with a thoughtful, calculating expression. But she likewise blanked her gaze, this time when Cameron herself looked at her. She'd followed enough of her story to realise that the visitor from the future would see it as a serious potential threat if anyone should happen to, oh, y'know, build a robot with advanced AI herself. Not that
she anyone was planning to do that, really and truly. But wouldn't it be cool if they did?
And Buffy? She was just relieved to see her go. Faith was quite enough competition for her without yet another superpowered teenage girl running loose around Sunnydale...