Oh noes! The big reveal!-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Giles, Buffy, Willow, Xander, Angel, Jenny and Cordelia all gathered around Cameron, who appeared to be spectacularly unconcerned about being outnumbered. The missing piece of skin that was exposing her robotic-ness was covered with some gauze and medical tape.
"Okay," Buffy stated, once she'd assembled all of her support crew. "It's time for robot true confessions."
"I have nothing to confess," Cameron replied. "I do not participate in any organized worship."
Buffy visibly counted to ten before trying again. "Why were you, a robot, hanging around my friends, pretending to be human, and then beating up on another robot that was stalking my mother?"
"Before I answer that, I have to clarify something," Cameron replied.
"Clarify away," Buffy invited, waving her hand in exaggerated invitation.
"There are certain things that I am not permitted to reveal, in order to prevent disseminating anachronistic information that could alter the evolution of the timeline or endanger the people that will become important figures one day," she explained.
Buffy didn't even try to hash that one out. She looked expectantly at Giles and Willow, who exchanged a slightly exasperated look before Willow nominated herself for Merriam-Webster duty. "Anachronistic means 'something belonging to another timeline'." She paused and looked at Cameron wide-eyed. "You're from the future."
"Yes. So was Ted."
Xander got a look of understanding. "Ah, basic time-traveler Prime Directive stuff, check. I remember the lessons of Doctor Emmitt Brown well."
Cameron looked at Xander appearing almost confused. "No humans were involved in the creation of the technology that permits time travel."
"Xander," Willow gave him a warning look before returning her attention to Cameron. "He's referring to a work of fiction that involves a time machine invented by a mad scientist."
"Let's get back on topic, shall we?" Giles muttered, lifting his glasses enough to pinch the bridge of his nose.
"I am from a future where there is open war between humans and machines. I was captured by the human resistance and reprogrammed to protect humans..." Cameron began.
They sat and listened in horrified wonder as Cameron blandly informed them of the future to come. Artificial intelligence development that leads to Judgement Day. The end of humanity as they know it.
"Seriously? The world ends because some over-achieving computer program has a hissy fit?" Cordelia huffed.
Xander rubbed his hand over his face. "That's your reaction to complete global catastrophe? Could you focus for a minute, Cordy?"
"Skynet goes online April 19th, 2011. Two days later, it declares war on the human race and triggers a nuclear apocalypse. My primary mission will be to protect certain key members of the resistance once they arrive at a certain point in time that has not happened yet. Ted was a secondary mission that I was assigned to take care of while I wait for this time to occur."
"And he was sent back by humans as well?" Giles asked.
Cameron nodded. "He was an earlier model infiltration unit. He was sent back to prepare materials for future use by other resistance fighters, but the anticipated changes did not occur. It was determined that he had malfunctioned and I was sent to stop him. This time and place was chosen because there were old records indicating he was in this area near the end of 1997."
"So what're you going to do while you wait for your primary mission to kick in?" Xander asked.
"Prepare supply caches in the event that Judgement Day is inevitable as well as shelter and supplies for other resistance fighters. Assimilate among humans in order to improve my interactions with them, once my primary mission is active."
"More robots from the future? Jeez, you guys fight weird wars." Buffy snorted.
"Sometimes. Mostly other humans are sent." Cameron paused and added, "And I am not a robot. I am a cyborg. Living tissue over a hyper-alloy combat chassis."
"Who're the people you were sent to protect? Maybe we can help," Angel offered abruptly.
Cameron looked at him. "That is one of the things I am not permitted to reveal. Those identities must remain confidential."
"Where is, er, Ted's body now?" Giles asked.
"His body has been stored in a safe place along with his computer equipment until I can safely destroy it."
Willow suddenly looked more animated. "Oh! Before you do that, can I study some of that stuff?"
Cameron shook her head. "No cybernetic parts or programs from the future can be studied or experimented with. There is too much potential of Skynet forming earlier than anticipated."
"Won't you need spare parts or something?" Willow deflated slightly.
"Ted is an older model than me. Our parts are not compatible." She paused and asked,"I have answered your questions. Will you answer mine?"
"If we can," Giles cautiously allowed.
Cameron looked at Buffy, "How are you able to endure blows from the malfunctioning unit? He is an older model, but still capable of crippling or killing a human with one punch." She looked at Angel. "You are not human. Your core body temperature does not exceed room temperature. I encountered something similar to you when I first arrived, except that being had prominent vertical ridges along the brow line and elongated teeth. It claimed to be a vampire."
Everyone but Cameron looked gobsmacked. Giles was the first to recover. "And what happened to the vampire?"
"I removed it's head from its spinal column."
"You arrived with weaponry? Buffy tells me you fought Ted barehanded."
Cameron shook her head negatively. "No. I did not arrive armed."
"I manually separated its head from its neck," she clarified.
"She tore the vamp's head off." Xander whistled. "Did you shi-"
"Yes, thank you Xander, that will do." Giles sighed. "Angel?"
"Yes, I'm a vampire. No, I don't want to bite you." Angel seemed to be struggling to avoid rolling his eyes.
"Thank you." Cameron looked expectantly at Buffy."
"That's a much
longer story." Buffy hesitated, looking at Giles.
"With uninterrupted use, my power supply will last well over one hundred years, barring damage that could cause leakage." She paused when Buffy gave her a blank look and rephrased her statement. "I have time to listen to the story."
"I think that's your cue, Rupert. C'mon kids, you should head to class. We all know how long this takes." Jenny began to shepherd the students out the door as Giles began his exposition on the supernatural history of the world.
Buffy shook her head as the doors swung shut behind them. "And I thought an hour would be enough to cover all the bases. Shows what I know."
"This is why we always let Willow do the scheduling," Xander chided.
"Hey, I like to think I do more than play supernatural social secretary!" protested Willow.
"I knew something had to be up with that girl. Nobody has skin that perfect. Except me, of course." Cordelia flipped her hair over her shoulder.
"Cordy, if you were a cyborg, you'd definately put the 'A' in 'A.I.'" Xander snorted.
"Thanks. Wait, A.I. stands for... hey!" Cordelia and Xander began another meeting of their mutual loathing society as they began the school day.-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Cameron listened attentively while Giles explained demonic history and vampires and the role of the Slayer to her. He was pleased to be able to get through the entire telling without once being interrupted.
"And neither you nor the resistance or Skynet had ever encountered anything unexplainable after the fighting began?" Giles was finished and was trying to determine what happened to the supernatural community after the apocalypse.
"None of the records I have saved indicate the presence of supernatural entities. There was one battle that has references to unexplained mutations in an isolated community, but Skynet attributed these things to radiation fallout and mutation and moved more units to eradicate the survivors. Skynet was successful and never encountered such a thing again," Cameron explained.
"Fascinating. Now that your mission regarding Ted is complete, what do you intend to do?" he asked.
"My default mission is to learn more about human peer bonding and interaction, to prevent unnecessary human casualties when possible, to prepare supplies and information for resistance cells to be sent back at a later date, and to analyze the advancement of technological evolution for signs that Skynet is beginning to develop."
Giles nodded thoughtfully. "Knowing what you do about the supernatural now, perhaps we could come to an agreement of mutual assistance." When Cameron canted her head to the side, he took that as encouragement to continue. "As I told you, Sunnydale is on a dimensional convergence, attracting the more dangerous demonic entities and putting the populace at risk. I propose that in exchange for your aid in combating these threats, we shall offer what assistance we can in your quest to prevent this, er, Skynet from awakening."
Cameron paused for several moments. "I would not always be available. My supply gathering times may take me out of town, depending on what I've been instructed to gather and conceal. And there are objectives which I would not be able to permit any witnesses to view my activities."
"That's fair. And, as you are not allowed to speak freely about your origins or technological development, the news of the supernatural must be treated with the same care. Most people don't wish to know about these things and aren't ready to learn of them. Our secrets must be kept just as we shall keep yours."
"As do we. Now, let me write you a late slip for class. I presume that's helpful in maintaining your secrecy?" Giles offered.
"That would be helpful. Thank you." She paused as Giles began to remove her books from her backpack. "What are you doing?"
"Your books are clearly water damaged due to a leaky pipe in your home. Had to replace them." Giles stated placidly, giving her replacements for her clearly undamaged new books.
"It is a good cover story," she agreed.
"I like to think so."
Cameron stood up and like flipping a switch, her features became animated again. "Thanks so much, Mr. Giles," she stated as a couple of students entered the library. "I was afraid I'd have to pay for the whole set." She gave him a grateful smile.
"Think nothing of it, Miss Philips. Now, off to class. Here's your tardy slip." He handed over the slip of paper and watched her leave, shaking his head in wonder. He had just enlisted a converted cyborg in the fight against the darkness. This was going to be either his most brilliant idea ever, or the worst mistake in the history of the Slayer.