digital art courtesy PB

Opening theme

Sunnydalopolis part X

Warren returned to his office, among other things to prepare for another
schedule shift...to accommodate "Dr. Walthrop's" special needs in terms of
working hours... I've just gotten back to normal work days...he thought,
exhaustedly...Here we go again with the midshift shift.

***
He missed a christening...Buffy had decided that it was too confusing to keep
using only Buffy as her name...Far too much to expect Spike and Warren, the
"cybergeniuses" to keep the Buffies straight...

"You're changing your name?..." Spike wasn't too happy at the thought. Buffy
somehow suited her so well...

"I'm keeping Buffy...But we need something to distinguish the two of us...and I
don't like the idea of Robot Buffy Summers..."

"Well,..."

"Buffy Rebecca...What do you think?"

She got the R in, he thought. Buffy Rebecca...Buffy Rebecca Summers...not bad.

"It's up to you."

"I like it...so ... Anyway I have to get to school tomorrow. Before Buffy
goes back."

"School?..."

"Register for classes, take courses...I'm not giving up a college degree,
Spike, not if I can help it. Dawn and Buffy might need my help someday, financially...
And we are certainly going to need whatever we can get. Eternity is a long time, you
know." She frowns. "I guess it will have to be audits...at least until I can
get a job, somewhere..."

"Ah, humans and their money...the cause of so much sorrow, so many broken
homes... Now girl, the vampire lifestyle is simple, more honest..."

"Spike, apart from the fact that ATM money serial numbers are registered...I
don't like the idea of living by larceny."

He grins. Finally, finally I've got something to shock her with...

"Well, love, as to that...I've got a job interview on Tuesday next."

She is properly startled. But quickly realizes that the same vamp network of
phony reverences and faked ids that will allow Spike to pull off his act can
provide her with a new identity for her college and work as well. Ten percent
of their incomes to a bunch of vampires confirming their references does go a
little against her grain, however.

It's only later, as she rests in her tank that it hits him that she has taken
it completely for granted that they will always be together... What did Warren
say before? That being with him would be as natural to her as breathing...
More so, considering...
***

Spike's vamp network has come through and with the aid of a wig, make-up, and
class hours that Buffy Summers could never handle, Buffy Rebecca has returned
to college. Actually Rebecca Walthrop has entered college...according to her
id.

Patrolling is a careful business as she must try to avoid Buffy... So she
takes the odd hours when she knows her original most likely to be asleep or
studying...

Buffy Rebecca is studying for her history class.

Spike glances at her book.

[Play theme]

"World War II...The Russian front? Did I ever tell you...?"

"Spike, please...go away. I'm trying to study and I hate war history. People
killing each other...I hate it. But I have to take it. It's the only
humanities course I could still get into this semester."

"Well, you should talk to someone who was there...Like ole Spikey..." She
looks at him.

"What's the book? Ah, the siege of Leningrad...what a time that was...Nazis
within three miles of the city, roads cut, people dropping in the streets by
the thousands every day from hunger..."

"You were at Leningrad? During the siege?...In disguise as what, a Nazi
officer?"

"I like that...I was a freelancer for the London Times, my girl..." He looks
at her. "Well, anyway that's what I told the Ruskies I ran into. The Times
actually printed a story or two of mine that I got out."

"How did you manage to get trapped in that?"

"Well, Dru wanted to see the war...Russian front was were the action was in
1941...And Leningrad-St.Petersburg to you-has such nice palaces to see..."

He grins. "Killed my share of Nazis, too." He stretches, ready to begin his
war stories at length...

She looks at him.


"What, you don't believe me?...Look me up in the Times, 1941, William
Walthrop..." She cuts him off.

"Oh, I believe you. The Leningraders were all starving...Of course you chose
nice fat Nazis to eat..."

She leaves him.

Young people, he thinks...No respect for history anymore.
***
The day before Spike's first job interview in 120 years, Warren is at his lab
office when the phone rings...

"Warren, it's...Buffy...can you meet me?"

"Buffy...what's wrong?"

"Umm... I'm in your parking lot...I'm having...umm...a memory problem? Can you
come out?"

"Well, why don't you come up here? I think I could examine you better here."

"Well...I'm having a problem with one of my legs too...I don't think I can make
it... Maybe you should come out here before someone thinks I've been struck by
a car...takes me to a hospital."

As Warren leaves, the secretaries in the hall cluck at him...There goes the
supergenius off early again...Nice to be engaged to the boss' niece...

He finds Buffy standing near a van in the lot. She seems ok...

Xander emerges from the van. "Well Warren-nice to see you again...Sorry to
hear you've been stricken ill so suddenly..."

He sees that Giles is also in the van. He gulps...Busted.

The back doors open and the rest of the gang regards him coolly.
***



Sunnydalopolis part XI

They had held Warren for hours in the shop and he still would not tell them
where the robot and Spike had fled to. All he would continually tell them was
that the robotic Ms. Summers was no danger to them or any human. Willow,
Tara, and Anya may not have had much success with their attempts at
intimidating looks, but Buffy who after a first long glance, refused to look at
him and who furiously left the room after a minute more than made up for
anyone's else lack of menace.

Tara now tried a different approach, to point out to Warren the terrible thing
he had done.

"You've robbed Buffy of something precious, Warren... To give her, even a copy
of her to her worst enemy..."

"Spike?...Spike loves her...If you could just see them together..."

"Warren...if what you've told us is true, you've stolen her memories...her
whole soul and
given them to Spike...It's evil, terrible..."

Xander is losing his temper with the little scientist.

"Warren, you and your sexbots have had it...No more of these precious tales of
Spike's undying devotion...We want to know where they are. It's demolition
derby time."

In the other room Buffy is reaching the boiling point...if that little...won't
talk, the Slayer will make him talk...
***
The situation, Dreg reflected, is worsening rapidly.

Reports of the Knights were increasing...even rumors that Constantine XXX,
hereditary Emperor of Byzantium and Rome, Commander of the Knights of
Byzantium, had reached the area, had surfaced. No sign of the Key had
appeared.

But more serious by far was the divine goddess' condition. She was clearly and
rapidly losing ground to Ben...Her last audience could only be maintained for
ten minutes and she had warned that she could only gather her strength for one
last major attack...If the Key was not found and used soon, she would be
trapped, once again, between the dimensions, in the web Ben so neatly wove
around her glorious self...

But what use would another blind attack on the Slayer be if the Key could not
be found?

Dreg's new suit itched but he endured the suffering for the chance to please
the glorious one who had purchased it for him...Ben's prescription for his skin
was working quite well, he had to admit...

He racked his most unworthy brain for an answer...Perhaps, the Slayer could be
forced to tell them where the Key was, but she had shown no sign of yielding to
the glorious one as yet... Of course, Glory's attacks on the Slayer had
necessarily been short-lived, with no time to really threaten those she
loved... He brought the full power of his devoted brain to bear...He would
never suggest that Glory had bungled the situation in dealing with the Slayer's
sister, by not using her as a hostage, but perhaps if her followers, with more
time available to them, were to capture that girl or some of the others who
followed the Slayer... Yes, that might work...But would her most divine
gloriousness approve? No time. He must rely on his devoted love of his most
divine, most holy of goddesses to guide him in his decision...

There are times, Dreg thought, when even the most devoted and servile of
minions must show a bit of initiative...This was one of those times....
***

Buffy entered the room quietly enough but they could all see, she was at the
edge... Warren caught their nervousness and tried to look at the Slayer...
She'd been afraid of this, he'd try to make use of what he'd learned about her
by his time with the robot...The little slimeball...the little... She'd make
him talk...she'd destroy his little toy and Spike with her. Buffy grabbed his
hand and crushed the fingers. Warren cried out in pain.

"Buffy? Buffy?...Buf...Torture of humans is not what we're about here..."
Xander tried to stop her. She looked at him and he saw the dark look in her
eyes...He was seeing the dark side of the Slayer... She only crushed harder.

"Where are they, Warren? Tell me, tellme TELLME!..." They were all terrified
of her now and when Xander tried to stop her again, the look she gave him took
his breath away...She is ready to kill me, he thought...she is really ready to
kill me...

But she blinked at him blankly and backed off, leaving Warren moaning. She
looked at Xander, then at the others, then passed out...

Giles came in quietly and led Warren out into the other room. He then gave
Buffy something to drink which they guessed was a mild sedative and she fell
asleep, finally.

He asked Warren what seemed to be a few innocuous questions and much to the
others' surprise, let him go.

They did not guess and he did not tell them that Warren had told him all he
needed to know.
***



Sunnydalopolis part XII

Spike is decked out in tweed suit, shirt, and tie, and feeling quite
uncomfortable...it being the first time in a century...

It took less effort than he expected to convince Buffy Rebecca to do a dinner
with him, outside the Sunnydale limits, naturally. She was, she admitted,
"starving"...Starving, ah...Buffy would be starving after four days without a
real meal...so she is...I'm catching on, he thought...

Besides, she pointed out, he needed to brush up on his social skills before his
big interview tomorrow...

He is watching the VCR that Warren gave them when Buffy Rebecca insisted that
they make a replacement video for the one Buffy had thought she was making for
Riley... If they actually sent one, he might send one back to Buffy and... It
had taken her some practice but she had done a convincing job, he thought...at
least convincing enough for old war-boy...unless he somehow recognized the
crypt...

Warren had furnished some movies as well...mostly sci-fi, Spike noted...I
thought he said not to let Buffy Rebecca dwell on her origins too much...

Spike watches the ending of Warren's favorite, "The Bride of Frankenstein"...he
couldn't help feeling a little nostalgic during the bride's creation
sequence...

The Bride hisses like a cat...why, Buffy...there you are on the telly...Spike
tells the screen.

Suddenly he hears an excellent imitation of the hiss...Buffy Rebecca is looking
at him, ready to go...in a dress, looking...

She looks...well...she really looks... She hisses at him again...then "Spike,
are we going or not? I have to get back to patrol tonight you know..."

"Grr...she...hates me...like others." The Monster whines on the screen. You
and me both, pal...Spike thinks.
***
[Play  dinner theme]

Dr. William Walthrop, tweedy British cybergenius and his lovely
wife,...Rebecca?...well she's using the name for her college work after all...,
out to dinner for the evening... We don't make a bad couple he thought,
looking at their reflection in the restaurant window. Tweedy but handsome...he
corrected. And she...looks... He's being a perfect gentleman, all the old
19th century charm lessons kicking in to lend a hand, he thinks... But maybe
he should make a slight gesture in the romantic department...nothing too
forward of course...just a little loving hand squeeze?....

"Spike.." She has folded her arms and is regarding him "This has been a nice
evening...Don't spoil it..."

She returns to her plate...

"Did you always eat like that?" he asks her. No wonder where the Slayer
strength came from.

She excuses herself and gets up...to what...he wonders? Ah, water and excess
biomass disposal...
it has to go somewhere...

He senses something...and looks at the other diners...Hmm...fatty, rich man and
young beauty...human...handsome dark fellow and shy young thing
looking...vampire... damn...Mate, rethink those dating services...middle-aged
couple...human...young woman, human, dining alone?...nope, there's her
date...vampire...great, just great...already two... If only Buffy Rebecca
doesn't look round on her way back... There she's coming now...

Too late...she's seen them too... Oh, well, there's goes a pleasant
evening...Maybe there's only two...She could take one and I the other...a ten
minute interruption at most. He realizes Buffy Rebecca has already turned back
towards the restrooms...the female is heading for the ladies' room and she sees
no reason to miss the opportunity. The male at the other table is getting up
as well...

She's not going to follow the other one to the mens' room, is she?...This is
a job for Dr. Walthrop...vampire slayer's date...Too late, she's already coming
out of the ladies room...There she goes...oh, no...Did anyone else see her go
in?...God, that girl works quickly... He thinks, admiringly.

Any more?...He wonders, looking around. It's like a regular
convention...Someone might have passed the word on to me...

What about that brunette in back?...she looks...familiar...oh God, no...

Harmony in the worst wig he's ever seen.

Even Harmony wouldn't be stupid enough to... He realizes Buffy Rebecca has
already returned to the table...

"Spike!?...Buffy!?.." She waves...

Dr. William Walthrop, eminent British cybernetist and third-rate poet, and his
lovely American wife, Rebecca, college student, experiencing an awkward social
moment on encountering an old girlfriend...
***

Sunnydalopolis part XIII

***
Spike and Buffy Rebecca managed to escape the threat of a evening with Harmony
by leaving the restaurant at once...

Buffy Rebecca was silent on the ride home...Ignoring Spike's heroic efforts at
conversation, she watched the road thoughtfully.

"I should have staked Harmony then and there..." She finally said as they
neared the crypt.

Jealous?...could she be jealous?... Spike happily wondered...

"But then, Spike...who else could you possibly have sex with?..." she smiled
at him sweetly...
***

Despite the near panic caused on Spike and Buffy Rebecca learning of Warren's
ride with the gang, they mutually agreed that Spike should go ahead with his
interview at Xortox... Warren had been sure he hadn't given them any useful
information as their whereabouts... In addition to her flattering concern for
poor 'dad', Buffy Rebecca was far more concerned with the reaction of her
friends and family to her existence than in Buffy's intention to destroy her.
She expected that...she was Buffy after all and that was how Buffy would feel.
But now was no time for either Buffy to be off her stride...
***
Warren felt it was safer to have Spike go alone to Xortox that night... The
gang would not be interested in the company if they knew Warren was at home...

[Play theme for Severn the Vampire Employer...]
"Dr. Walthrop... A pleasure to finally meet you..." Severn pointed Spike to a
chair.

[Play theme for "Dr." Walthrop, family man(A Hard Day's Night)]

Dr. Walthrop nodded pleasantly, and took a chair...This would be a piece of
cake he told himself...Warren had assured him that Severn was no great
genius...just the administrative type... Spike could handle the administrative type...

No doubt the cold look Severn fixed on him was meant to intimidate. But
William the Bloody, who had faced down demons, Slayers, killers of every
description was hardly to be frightened by some little overblown human with
delusions... By the way, boss that 100 foot etching of yourself on the side of
the lab building...real class, megalomanic style... Glory herself couldn't
have done it better... Still, he was a family man now...and one had to show an
appropriate amount of trepidation with the boss... As he went over the gist of
points on the project as Warren and Buffy Rebecca had couched him, Spike did his
best to look slightly unnerved...No, don't overdo it...The fellow will be
walking all over you...

"I understand Dr. Walthrop that you're a maverick...like our boy Warren... Yes,
that's the kind of man after my own heart..." Severn.

Hmm...doc, seeing as you put it that way...your heart'd look nice under some
barbecue sauce right now... Lucky for you, the chip and a steady blood supply
from your boy Warren's little girl is keeping Spikey polite...

"So Warren owes some major breakthroughs in his work to you, eh?...We were
impressed by his test construct, weren't we, Willes..." Willes nods.
"Brilliant, sir, brilliant..." Severn continues.

Willes, the usual bullying toady...Didn't I see you at Leningrad, mate...SS
corps...NKVD?...God, I must remember to tell Buffy Rebecca about the time...

Attention, Spikey, attention...the boss is reaching his stride...Keep up that
slightly intimidated look Spikey, think...Giles...
There, just enough to keep that smug look on his face...God, is this what
people had to do to earn a living nowadays?

...Poor Warren...

***
By now Giles and Willow had been on patrol together for two nights...Giles and
Willow? Xander naturally accepted that with Buffy heavily sedated and finally
sleeping off the last terrible days they had to cover for her...but it seemed
to him that it was a strange division of the team... Still they were to be
covering an easy area, and Giles had seemed anxious for the chance to continue
reviewing what they had on Glory with his best researcher... Best
researcher?!...Well, yeah. And it was best to split up...but why the
insistence that Tara man the shop phones?... Still, the Watcher knew what he
was doing...

He might have been less confident if he knew where they headed this night and
what was on Giles' mind.
***
Giles had learned enough from Warren to know that the new plan he been forming
ever since he'd learned of Buffy Rebecca's existence was likely to work... For
the first time since he had learned of Dawn's existence he could see the
smallest chance of avoiding the terrible price he was prepared to pay to save
Buffy Summers... The price of losing the love of the only child he had ever
had. But before he risked it, he had to know... And to find out, he was as
willing to risk dear Willow as he had been to sacrifice the Key...

They were reaching an area very popular with Sunnydale vampires...

"Giles?...We're heading quite a ways further than you told Xander and
Anya...Are we by any chance...robot hunting?" Willow looked up at him.

"Willow, I want to find that robot...while Buffy is sedated and unable to
destroy it."

"Ah...so we're the bait...I thought so..." She smiled at Giles. "And
robo-Buffy is going to save us?..."

It was kind of her to let him know that she knew, Giles thought...

"Well, I think we'd better get used to calling her Buffy Rebecca as Warren
did..." he said.

She got the R in, with a neat twist, Willow thought...Just like Buffy
would've...
***
"Success in the Xortox bionetics program will benefit thousands of those
requiring bionic limbs and other organs...especially children..." Severn went
on...

...and on...Spike thought... Yeah, I get the picture, boss...Save the Nibletts
with Science...But you sure don't look like a niblett-saver to me... Eat the
Children, maybe...Save the Children...I don't think so...

Family man now Spikey...family man...keep that servile, eager young cybernetist
look on your face...well, a Brit-style eager, servile look...not so doglike, a
little Brit dignity...

Hope Buffy Rebecca has charged up on her blood supply...

***
Buffy Rebecca staked the two desperate vamps attacking Giles and Willow so
quickly she was nearly gone before they caught sight of her.

No wonder the vamps of Sunnydale are lying so low...Willow thought...There goes
my "maybe they're showing a little respect for the Slayer in mourning" idea...

"Buffy Rebecca?...please wait..Willow and I have someone whom you should meet
coming to the store..." Giles called to her.

He does?...I mean we do?...Gi-les, you've been holding out on us...

The robot came back to them... She won't harm us...I'm surrre of it.. Of
course, you know...this has been a really bad week and maybe Warren isn't all
that bright... Maybe...we...should...think...about...this, eh, Giles....

Giles,...Warren and Spike designed her brain...Giles?...Warren and
Spike...?

"Will, it's so good to see you...and...Giles, oh..." the robot held her hands
out to them...

She was embarrassed?

"Giles, did you get the hole fixed ok? You know I will pay you back for it,
every penny..."

***
Giles led in a slender middle-aged man, dapperly dressed... Professorial type,
Willow thought. I've seen his picture somewhere, Buffy Rebecca thought...He's
teaching a seminar at college here...

The professor?...smiled... Nice twinkle in his eyes, thought Willow...

"May I introduce our guest...Professor Constantine Drages of the University of
Athens.. The Professor is here at the College on a sabbatical..."

The Professor bowed.

"Ladies... Ms. Summers I have very much wanted to make your acquaintance."

Willow looked at Giles...Greek professor...oh...Knights of Byzantium...expert
advice...I get it.

"The professor contacted me through the Watchers' Council... He is an expert on
Roman, particularly Byzantine-era, history... He is also Constantine XXX,
hereditary Emperor of Byzantium and Rome...and Commander of the Knights of
Byzantium..."
***
The Emperor continued his story...

"In 382, the Emperor Gratian ordered the removal and destruction of the Altar
of Victory...and Glory..." Oh-oh, thought Willow...Glory. "...from Rome."

He paused.

"Gratian was a fine young man, but a bit too zealous in his piety for the new
Christian religion...I fear... He failed to consider the consequences of
antagonizing even the minor deities once worshiped by Rome..."

Glory was pissed...thought Willow...

"Fortunately Glorificus, the goddess of Glory and Victory had a
counterpart...Benedictus, god of Healing and Mercy...we might call him an angel
if we used Christian terminology..."

So...

"With the help of his priests, Benedictus restrained his counterpart and
prevented her from reaching through to our dimension to wreck havoc on a world
which had denied her..."

Glory was really pissed...

"He held this violent goddess between dimensions...But to do so, Benedictus had
to remain in our dimension, immortal but essentially powerless..."

Stopping up Glory like a cork in a bottle...Her getting pissier and
pissier...Until...

"The Gates of Hell were briefly opened several years ago, giving Glory enough
energy to weaken Benedictus' restraint for a time, contact her surviving
worshipers, and seek the Key..."

The Master...Willow sighed to herself...Gee...thanks old pal...

"And what is the Key? I know it's some kind of energy..." Buffy Rebecca asked.

" It was contained in the remnants of the original Altar...It consists of the
neural energy of thousands of worshipers...enough stored to smash open
Benedictus' restraints and loose Glorificus upon the world...and maintain her
vital energy connection to her own dimension..."

Gotta keep that energy connection maintained...Else...glory goes out...

"Then...why..?" Willow asked.

"Why did the monks not destroy it?...They honor Benedictus as a saint and
feared his time on Earth would end with the destruction of the Key...This was
not a difficulty until Glory became more powerful."

To have the good brother over, you gotta tolerate the mean sister...Until she
gets too big...

"So if the energy of thousands of minds is used...Glory could get out or...she
could be sent back?" Buffy Rebecca asked.

"She would fight to remain here until her vengeance is complete..."

A goddess scorned... Whoa...Sent back?...hmm...where is Buffy...Buffy Rebecca
going with this?...Willow wondered...

"And what is Benedictus doing while all this is going on?...Do you have contact
with him? Can he help?"

"He seeks to restore his restraints on Glorificus...We respect his intentions
but his power is very limited...outside his benevolence. We do not have direct
contact with him..And we fear he would hesitate to do that which might destroy
his counterpart..."

Can't expect the guy to ace his own sister for us...Unreasonable...He's done
his bit for a millennia...Now we gotta get off our butts and...

The Emperor looked at Buffy Rebecca "...as you would hesitate to destroy the
Key."

Uh, oh...He's starting to sound...and look...like a Roman Emperor...well,
Eastern Roman Emperor...

He fixed Buffy Rebecca with his eyes... He really is one of the Caesars,
Willow thought...Impressive, especially considering that suit...

"The Key must be destroyed, Ms. Summers...There is no way to control its energy
and be sure that Glory will be cut off from her source of power... I realize
that you feel it your duty to carry out the wishes of the monks..."
"I've never really even known what they are..." Buffy Rebecca said.

"Then let us destroy the Key...Together if possible..."

"What will Glory do?...Will she be sent back? Powerless?"

"We believe she will be cut off from her source of power and unable to do more
than immediate damage..."

Whoa..."Immediate" damage, your highness...What does that mean..?.

"She will of course be capable of destroying those of us who have defeated
her...but that is a small price to pay..."

Define "small price"...

"And should I perish in the fight as well...my successor is already chosen..."

Oh...Willow looked at the Emperor, sadly...Glory must be pissed at you...personally...
you Gratian-descendant... Poor Emperor...she thought...

"Constantine XXXI?" she asked.

"I think not..." The Emperor smiled. "Thirty Constantines is quite enough...I
believe the next chosen will be a Basil..."

He looked at Buffy Rebecca.

"There is comfort in the fact that there is always another Byzantine Emperor,
chosen and waiting to take one's place...Just as there is always another Slayer
waiting to be chosen... We will await your answer..May God guide you in your
final decision, my dear Ms. Summers." He rose.

Buffy Rebecca couldn't help liking the brave little Emperor...He was ready to die too.
But she would never let him reach Dawn alive...

"Ms. Summers?..." the Emperor was a dapper little professor again. "I
understand you and your friend attend the College here?...I hope should things
work out for the best that you will both consider attending my seminar on
Byzantine history...I will do my best to make it entertaining."

Buffy Rebecca nodded... Should we bow, curtsy?...Willow wondered.

Giles led him to the door.

"A brave and intrepid young woman, Mr. Giles..." Professor Drages hesitated.
"I hope it will not come to what I fear..."

"Well, sir...there is always another Slayer.." Giles replied.
***
[Play theme...Mutual plotting...Willow's sorrow (Adagio for Strings)]
Stopping on the doorstep for a moment to hold the door for a late customer
just entering, the Emperor reflected that he had now confirmed what he had
needed to know. As he had suspected, the Slayer was protecting the Key out of
more than a sense of duty...The monks, curse them, had chosen the Key's form
all too well... Human...and dear to the Slayer. And with the poor girl's
mother dead, there was only one person that it could be...
***
Alone with Buffy Rebecca, Willow tried to think of things to say...what do you
say to a robot double of your closest non-lover friend?

"Well...Good-bye, Will..." the robot said wistfully...

She doesn't want to leave us...her 'friends'... Willow thought.

Oh, we can't do this...I can't...Giles... But he was already in the rear of the shop...He
can't face her either, she thought.

"I guess I'd better be going..." She hesitated. And hugged her.

Going home?...thought Willow. To Spike?...

Sensing her thoughts, Buffy Rebecca looked at her quietly...

"It's not so bad, Will...He's...trying...Besides so long as I'm with him, he'll
never harm anyone...And, well, eternity is a long time, you know...to be
alone..."

So she loves him...Willow thought mournfully...Warren, you...bastard...

Then the robot grinned at her... "Aren't you going to ask me what you've been
dying to ask all evening, Will?..."

Willow looked at her...

"Not with a ten foot pole..." Buffy Rebecca smiled at her.

Poor Spike...That's my Buffy...Willow thought happily...And with sorrow...

She called to Giles in the back... He was now busy with the customer let in by
the departing Emperor. "'Bye Giles..." She waved at him.

"Good-bye, my dear"... he called, looking away from the customer who had never
received such scrupulous attention in any store before...

No..no..Willow thought...We can't do this...We mustn't...Giles, stop her...
But she let the robot leave...There really was nothing else to do...

She turned to look back at Giles. The customer had nervously escaped him at
last...and he was looking at the door where the robot had left. He looked back
at Willow. There was sorrow... and anger in her look...
***


Sunnydalopolis part XIV

I'm going to lose them all, Giles thought, looking at Willow and her angry
face... Willow only knows part, and she's near hating me... and when all's
done and they know everything...I'll lose them all, whether or not Buffy
survives...

Buffy Rebecca had reacted exactly as he'd expected...Exactly as Buffy would...
It was heartbreaking to sacrifice her but he was prepared to do much more than
that...

But he would make sure Buffy Summers survived. Whatever had to be done...And
to do that he would need to speak with Spike...and make sure he played his
proper part...
***
Dr. Walthrop, Xortox cybernetist.

Much to Spike's surprise, Severn cut to the chase after his "Save the Children"
spiel and quickly made him a job offer that among other things would cause a certain
Mr. Harris to hang himself...

Considering his exemplarary record of behavior in the past two weeks, Spike
thought, that would not be an excessive demand to make... He could just
picture the scene, Xander engaging in his usual witty conversation, hearing
that...what, Spike is gainfully employed...what, Spike is working as a
what,...what, Spike is making how much... He was sure his first paycheck would
cover the rope... A gift to an old friend...

Easy...too easy, perhaps...
***
After the distinguished cybernetist had left, Severn called Willes back in...

"It's here." Willes told him.

"Mr. Willes, please...a little politeness never killed anyone..." Severn told
him.

Severn had not seen what "it" had done to one of his men the first night they
made contact, Willes reflected.

Harmony entered...looking a bit...peaked...Times were hard on Sunnydale
vampires right now...

"My dear..girl, please take a seat...Good to see you again..."

"Hi" Brightly... "Umm...before we talk, could I..."

"Willes,..."

Willes pulled out a blood bag and threw it to her... She ripped it apart and
drank feverishly...

"Now, my dear girl...about your friend...Dr. Walthrop...er Spike?"

Dr. Walthrop, thought Harmony, laughing...then wondering. Dr. Walthrop...Why
he never said he was a doctor?...All those nights in the crypt, "low on cash"
and he's a doctor... Is that why Buffy was going out with him...? That would
be just like her...

"Harmony?...Har-mony?...About Dr. Walthrop?...Do you happen to know this girl
and if he's been involved with her...?" Severn shows her a photo of Buffy...

"Well that's Buffy Summers...the Slayer...they used to hate each other...but
now...oh they're like...inseparable. "

"The Slayer? A vampire slayer...and a vampire...?"

"Well", reflects Harmony, "I have no prejudices but it seems to me..."

***
Buffy Rebecca was out on patrol when Spike returned... He was disappointed of
course not to be able to drop the news on her but that could wait...

He was a little worried about her going out alone, given Glory and...Buffy...
Well...

Giles' note reached him later by a courier for the vamp network...
***


"Hello, Spike. Thank you for dropping in..."

Giles waves Spike to a chair.

"Spike, I understand your 'friend' is not only willing but anxious to fight
Glory and protect her sisters'. I am doing my best to make that possible."

"You are...Nice of you, Giles...Very inhuman, my compliments..."

"It's really amusing... to hear you speak on inhumanity...murderer." Giles says
the word softly...

"I won't let her fight that maniac..."

"I've already spoken to her...She'll fight Glory...in Buffy's place and
gladly..."

"And if I stop her...Or stop you?"

"Then shall I tell Buffy where to find her twin? Or shall I destroy her
myself?"

"You've seen how strong my girl is, Giles? Do you really think any of you,
even the Slayer can take her?"

Giles regards the vampire coolly.

"Yes, Buffy Rebecca is powerful...stronger by far than our Buffy...Which is why
it's only logical that I should want her to meet Glory..."

"You don't understand, Giles. This is not a machine we're talking about...If
you knew her, you'd know...you couldn't let her face Glory anymore than you'd
let Buffy..."

"I'm throughly convinced that your Buffy is a near-perfect copy of ours, Spike.
I accept that she has for want of a better word, the soul of our Buffy...I
count on it. And that her desire to save others is sincere. Because that is
why she will meet Glory."

"That will not happen."

"Oh, yes...it will... Or, we will destroy her." He smiles at Spike. "You see,
it seems your Buffy has one design flaw, according to her creator...She can't
kill human beings. Ironic isn't, that neither one of you is capable of killing
a human being. For her that's doubly true in the case of those she loves. If
Buffy Rebecca faces Buffy or anyone of us, she will not even put up a fight...
I confirmed that tonight..."

He continues.

"And, in the end, Spike, she will fight Glory...no matter what you do to stop
her. I should know...I've tried to stop Buffy before... She'll do whatever it
takes...lie to you, slip around your back, advertise her whereabouts to
Glory..."

It was true, Spike knew. There was no way he could prevent Buffy Rebecca from
facing Glory... Even if somehow she could not prevent Buffy from fighting
first and losing, as she must, Buffy Rebecca would simply take over Dawn's
protection... There was no way out, really.

"You see, Spike, one learns in being a Watcher the danger of interference, of
letting one's natural inclination to join in the fight and take an active part,
no matter how hopeless the odds, rule over the need to hold back, study the
enemy, acquire information, and above all not distract the Slayer from her
task. It may seem that this role is an easy one, a safe one, but there's a
terrible price to pay for that safety...One must watch an innocent young woman
whom one has trained and nurtured fight terrible evil...and sit by, never
stepping beyond the bounds, in the knowledge that the feeble help one could
offer would be worse than a wasted effort, it might cause the defeat of the
Slayer."

He smiles at the vampire.

"Now you're finally a Watcher too, Spike... And if you want Buffy Rebecca to
win, you must watch, not interfere, and hope that she can survive this fight."

Spike looks at Giles. William Walthrop the third-rate Cambridge poet facing
Rupert Giles, the mild-mannered librarian, William the Bloody, vampire
confronting Giles the Ripper, sorcerer...

And each knows the one across from him is equally capable of killing and
sacrificing the innocent to protect those he loves...

"She can fight by herself...or with all the information and help we can give
her...The choice is up to you. But then, no one should know more than you what
usually happens to a Slayer who has no one to support her..."

Then Spike knew...He knew just how far the Ripper was willing to go...

"It's not Buffy Rebecca alone you're willing to sacrifice, Rupert. Glory will
simply kill them one at a time or together...You need Buffy Rebecca to bring
that thing out... But to stop her...the only ways are destroying the key or
giving her what she wants..."

"It's my hope that Buffy Rebecca will win...with our help, but you're quite
right I don't know if she can defeat Glory. And yes, sacrificing the Key has
been the one way out...until your robot appeared..."

Giles looks at Spike.

"Spike, Buffy Summers has saved thousands, perhaps the entire world on
occasion. She's seen friends die, lost her family, and never has and never
will receive a single reward for it."

Giles' voice gets steelier. " She's never asked for anything more than to be
allowed to live a simple, quiet life. No one had the right to saddle her with
this responsibility...to play on her emotions, all in ruthless calculation of
her vulnerability...To force her to be willing to sacrifice her life to save
someone...who never really existed before a few months ago."

He hates them, Spike thought, looking at Giles. More than any vampire, demon,
monster they've ever encountered. He hates them all, the fat, bloated fools of
the Watchers Council, the fanatic monks, all those worthless, pompous cowards
and fools sitting on their backsides and calmly plotting ways to get a young
woman to risk her life and save their miserable necks. And he'll risk Glory
getting Dawn, even the apocalypse, to save his...daughter. Certainly more his
daughter than the worthless Mr. Summers...

He'll even risk her finding out what he's planning, Spike realized...Even that.

"And you do know what would happen if Buffy were ever to hear of what you're
planning?..."

"Oh, Spike," Giles smiles thinly. "I'd destroy you long before that could ever
happen."
***

"General" Dreg/Weak troops to the front lines

We must make up in quality, Dreg thought as he reviewed his forces, for what we
lack in quantity... Yes, quality...but...as he looked at the motley collection
of Brethren and the few wretched vampire mercenaries who dared come out in the
face of the Slayer's now constant pressure...Didn't that girl ever sleep now?...
This was hardly a force fitting for the final battle of the Goddess of Glory and
Victory's legions against the forces of the Byzantine Emperor and the Slayer...

Naturally the entry of Glorificus herself into the fray would throw the balance
of power decisively in their favor...But until she was able to overcome
Benedictus' restraint and access the Key's power these troops must prevent the
destruction of the Key...

He pulled himself up to the tops of his new, Glory-purchased shoes and sucked
[ Play ...Glory and Dreg theme...(Moonglow)]
from the drink of the Divine Julius...Ah, now there was a Caesar who
appreciated Glorificus' blessings...Ah, happier days he sighed... A speech,
Dreg thought...yes that was it...an inspiring speech by the Commander of
Glorificus' legion to rally...No, he looked at the mercenaries' faces...I don't
think so... He returned to studying the map of the Sunnydale Mall Building
which he had taken the night of his blessed grand outing with her most glorious
divinity.

"Why the Sunnydale Mall...?" Scodos, leader of the ragged mercenaries
interrupted his ruminations...

"After her manifestation our Divinity will require neural energy to maintain
herself against the efforts of Benedictus', the Slayer, and the Byzantines
until the Key is hers...I have noticed that humans tend to herd there...A
simple solution..." Besides, he thought...It's our place...

"I believe we should place your troops in the front lines, Scodos...Frankly
they look weak...and I have read that panic always starts in the rear among
weak troops." The Byzantine emperor would appreciate that...although his
defeat was of no real consequence still to lay before her gloriousness the
severed head of the descendant of her humilator...Oh the joy...

"We shall soon move to capture the Slayer's sister and other hostages as
possible...then the final battle...You may go until we call..."

"What is he talking about..." Scodos said to Dreg's Brethren assistant as he
left. "Front lines?...rear?...we have barely enough to surround that
building..." The assistant shrugged. "One night out with Glorificus..."

Yes...Dreg thought...Weak troops to the front lines...panic always starts in
the rear...He continued to survey the mall map...
***


Sunnydalopolis part XV

Harmony is assisting Dr. Severn, sinister head of Xortox Labs and employer of
"cybergeniuses" Warren and Spike, in obtaining "expert" advice for his
immortality project...

"So you see my dear, I must have the Scroll of Anatasis to complete my work..."

Harmony frowns...

"Well, only the oldest vampires know anything about how we're created...My
friend, they call him "the Voice" as he is never seen...well, he could probably
find what you're looking for..."

Severn, all congeniality...as always...

"Well, Harmony, we've been very kind to you here at Xortox since we saved you
from being sacrificed by the Initiative last year, haven't we?... You'll be a
team player, won't you...for the cause of science...the discovery of
immortality..."

"Immortality...well, gee...I can give you immortality...no problem..."

Severn smiles coldly at her...

"Scurrying around by night like a rat?...driven by blood-lust...unable to carry
out my plans...No, my dear I think prefer another way..."

Prejudice, thinks Harmony...Our people encounter nothing but prejudice...We
should form a protest group and march for our rights... I wonder if Buffy would
sign a petition... I mean with her coming from the other side and all... After
all this transcends petty Slayer-Vampire issues...this is a matter of
democratic principles...

Harmony, patriotic American vampire and fighter for democratic justice...

"Can your friend obtain the scroll for me, Harmony?...Any price is
acceptable..."

"Well...He's very old and hard to reach...but I'll do what I can..."

"Thank you my dear...Willes, escort the lady out..."

Soon as I check to see if my cattle prod is charged, thinks Willes...
"Security, it' s leaving" he calls...

That Mr. Willes is certainly no gentleman thinks Harmony as she heads home...Of
course, Dr. Severn is kind of menacing and cute...just like the Dean from
Animal House'...

I hope Phil (aka "the Voice") can come through on that scroll...times are tough
and a girl needs to be gainfully employed... Besides, why should male vampires
like Spike get all the good jobs?...
***
Safely back, Willes confronts Severn...

"Is it safe to trust these creatures...that 'lady' and her friends...Not to
mention our Dr. Walthrop'...?"

"Willes, Science requires that risks be taken in any advance...And I want to
cover all bets...If Warren's neural transfer project is a success, I much
prefer that route...However...my time is short, you know..."

"But why bother with keeping Walthrop around...?"

"Isn't it obvious...Warren must have made use of his knowledge on vampire
transformation in his own project...Why else would he make use of a vampire
partner?..."

Knew that twerp Warren couldn't have pulled this off by himself, Willes
thinks...

"...But I must be sure before trying either process myself...We need a chance
to throughly examine that robot..."

As Willes left he couldn't help reflecting that one would never take Severn for
a terminally ill man...amazing what billions and access to vast medical
facilities can do for your appearance...Hmm...He contemplated an immortal Dr.
Severn heading Xortox eternally...Not exactly likely to result in a company
rich in bold, dynamic new ideas for a fast-paced global marketplace...If Severn
really succeeded, Willes thought, I should rethink my stock portfolio...

***

Spike and Buffy Rebecca facing their first major domestic crisis...

It's the lying, he thinks, after his return from Giles...That's what destroys a
relationship...If I pretend I know nothing about Giles' plan...and she finds
out I do?... If I tell her I know, she'll be on guard...and I won't have any
chance to stop her...

If I stop her I lose her...She'd do what Buffy would do if someone she cared
about failed her...Isn't that what Warren said? Maybe....She'd mourn
me...hard to miss' a dead man...perhaps, but she'd go...If I go ahead and
let her fight...she's gone forever... Giles is right, I am a Watcher now...

Buffy Rebecca however settles the matter fairly quickly.

"I met quite an interesting man tonight...Giles introduced Will and me to the
Emperor of Byzantium and Rome..."

Spike isn't sure what to say...pretend it's news to him, a joke?... "Was that
something on the History Channel?..."

"He's leading the Knights to destroy the Key and stop Glory...Apparently one of
his ancestral emperors pissed her off..."

"Well, then problem-solved, eh...How were the old gang?...Buffy over you yet?"

"He'll give me a chance to fight Glory before he destroys the Key...Dawn...so
he says...if I can show him I have the strength..."

"Does he know the Key is Dawn, then?"

"I don't know...he didn't seem to know what or where the Key was...but...he
seemed pretty clever..."

"A true Byzantine, eh...?" Spike can't help hinting about his education
again..Hey, Cambridge...two years...classics...you know...

She looks at Spike...

"I will have to fight Glory, Spike... I know you'll try to stop me but I will
need your help..."

"I won't let you be destroyed by that maniac... The world survived before you
Buffies were around you know...I didn't notice any Apocalypse plans succeeding
before I came to Sunnydale...Maybe your victories in that department have been
a little over-rated..."

"Spike, you and I know why Giles wants me to fight Glory...not just because I'm
the stronger but because I can't kill human beings..."

"And what bloody fool told you that...You're a wonderful killer, Buffy...An ace
without parallel...Why your style the other night...."

"Spike!... Human beings!... And thank you for that truly wonderful compliment,
really...I just love the idea of being compared to Drusilla..."

Oops...Another old girlfriend brought up...change the train of thought,
Spikey...quickly...

" Poor Dru...Hope she's staked soon and finds peace... Such a gentle soul,
really...that's what attracted me to her... The gentleness, the lost waif
thing... Not the psycho killer..." He tries to look soulful and
sincere...think Angel, Spikey...that whining twit...Has he become Christ
yet?...He certainly thinks he is...

She glares, then brushes it off...

"Spike, Giles hopes I can stop Glory, but I think he's leaving the Knights a
chance to get at Dawn...by having me there in Buffy's place...Dawn will be
there, somehow, he will get her there...And they will fight to the death to
destroy her if they feel I'm going to lose...And even if I can somehow be in
place to stop them...I couldn't...in the end... So that will leave you..."

"Me? To protect the Nibs against the Knights?..." Has she forgotten my chip?
...Hmm...would that mean she views me as a noble, reformed vampire?... Or
should I be calling Warren about a memory failure...? He could examine her,
accidently shut her down for a month until someone does Glory in...


"And Glory, probably... As for your chip problem...Having you around at least
will allow you to get Dawn away while I'm occupied...And I'll ask Xander to
help in case more's required..."

"Harris?..." Images of Xander pursued by 1000 ferocious Knights... "What an
excellent idea, Buffy Rebecca...Capital that...That stout fellow Harris will
come through, I'm sure..." Wait...the Niblett... Blast it...

"He'll have to do...And he would die for Dawn..."

Too quickly, I'm afraid, Spike sighs...

"I'm telling you the truth on this, Spike...That means I'm trusting you...Don't
let me down..."
He looks at her...Buffy Rebecca...

"I'll be honest too then...I'll help you fight Glory...I'll do what I can to
save your sister...But I will not promise to let you die for her..."

She smiles at him... "Spike, I think that's the first time I've ever believed
what you've said..."

The basis for a lasting relationship...
***


Sunnydalopolis, part XVI

After settling matters with Spike, Buffy Rebecca naturally sought a heart to
heart with 'Dad' back at her birthplace...Xortox Labs...

"Well, Warren?..." She has broached a question on neural energy...

"I'm not experienced with neural energy but I assume Benedictus opposes Glory
with a similar but opposite energy... Maybe they're like the poles of a
magnet...one end in each dimension, periodically flipping over with Benedictus
mostly in ours...?"

"And should other energy be opposed...say electrical?"

"It might disrupt their situation...but it would probably take enough power to
blackout California..."

"So my brain couldn't handle it..."

"Only if the charge went around the brain...like being in a metal car in a
lightning storm...but...I ...can't guarantee what the after-effects could
be..."

"It wouldn't be like lightning?...I wouldn't have to see it?...I hate
lightning..."

Warren looks at her...my little Buffy Rebecca...vampire-slaying goddess
fighter...afraid of lightning... She'd kill me for the "...my little..." part,
fail-safe or not...

"You won't have to see it...but what does Spike say...?"

"Many things...very many things...mostly of little meaning..."
***
Buffy Rebecca out for a Saturday evening at the Sunnydale Mall with her
friends...

[Play theme for "Dr." Walthrop, family man (A Hard Day's Night)]

Dr. Walthrop is occupied...struggling to learn the rudimentals of
cybernetics...He can't always use the pipe-puffing,
well-let-me-consider-that-oh, Warren-old-boy approach... He can handle this,
two years at Cambridge and all...Good thing the little lady left plenty of
blood in the fridge...

Perhaps not a bad idea to check on the Niblett...pledge to the Slayer and all
that...
***
"Will, I have to speak to Xander..."

Willow, who has reluctantly arranged this get-together...without informing the
others which Buffy is coming...is puzzled...

"Xander...are you telling Xander?..." He's a great guy...don't get me
wrong...but gee...he has his limitations...and robot intolerance is one of
them...

"I have to ask him...something..."
***
Xander is quite pleased to see Buffy enjoying a quiet night out with her
friends...after nearly killing him back at Giles' during the Warren
interrogation... Maybe not having Dawn around for an evening is sort of a
tension-release...
***
The Emperor of Byzantium and Rome has reached a decision...cruel necessity
dictates that the Key must die to save the lives of millions, perhaps the whole
world...Much as he would like to give the Slayer a chance to defeat Glory and
save her sister...Too much rests on the destruction of the Key before Glory can
use it...

He is, after all, a Caesar...

But there is no point in sending a large force that Glory's followers would
detect...They would know instantly that the Knights had discovered the
Key...Yet, the Emperor is well aware of the Slayer's abilities...The Key will
be shadowed...By a small force, elite, in civilian disguise...And when time
offers an opportunity...

Learning from his faithful scouts that the Summers' girls have indeed left
their home and are in a public place...he despatches six of his best...The rest
are alert and ready to join the fight at a moment's notice...

Yet, he cannot help hoping that the brave Ms. Summers can succeed in her
quest...

What a consort she would make for that young Basil...
***
Buffy Rebecca...still presenting as Buffy...asks Xander to speak with
her...alone...

Anya is naturally pleased to be shoved away...ignored...And suspects Buffy has
the usual outrageous demand to make of her Xander... She insists on coming and
Buffy agrees...

She didn't mean to exclude Anya...See it's just...Well...

"Xander, I need you to watch over Dawn..."

Difficult, Buf...Dawn's not here right now...Oh...

"You mean when you fight Glory?..."

"The Knights will be there..."

Educated guess... Buf? Xander wonders

"Giles has arranged it...We'll be allies...up to a point..."

Allies...Allies are good thinks Anya...But why does Buffy need
Xander?...OH!...Wait a minute!...

"Buffy...You want Xander to hold off the Knights from getting Dawn?...The
Knights?...Alone?..."

Anya is always surprising me...Buffy Rebecca thinks...

Xander is getting over his blinking fit and tries to make a proper hero's
comeback...

"Hey...for Dawn...Anything..."

"Buffy, could we speak for a minute?..." Anya asks... "Go far away, Xander..."

Xander tries to look embarrassed at his girl's defensiveness...Anya, hero
here...you know...
Of course, if Buffy might be persuaded to include a leetle help...
***
"Anya, I know you're afraid for Xander..."

"Afraid...no... Certain that he'll be killed...yes...Why are you doing this,
Buffy?..."

"I need his help..."

"No...Why are you fighting Glory?...To protect Dawn?...She's not really your
sister..."

"She is to me..."

"You don't care about Xander...You don't care about anyone...It's no wonder you
hate that robot...She was nice..." Anya turns away... "I don't like you,
Buffy...I don't think it's fair what you do..."

"Anya..."

"Xander isn't superhuman... He'll be killed...And you wouldn't care one bit..."

"Anya, he'll be killed if I lose..."

"Give Glory her Key...She's going to beat you...And she might go easy on people
if she gets what she wants..."

Buffy Rebecca looks at Anya's tearful face...

"You know she won't 'go easy'... Anya, you have every right to hate me and
what I'm doing to Xander...and all of you...But I need help..."

"Can I stay with Xander?...When you make him help Dawn...Or is that too much to
ask..."

"You can stay..."

Anya's jaw drops...Buffy Rebecca does not need to be told what she's just
seen...Buffy and Dawn, shopping a few stores down from them... She is Buffy
after all...

Buffy, despite heavy medication, has no intention of missing her Saturday mall
night out...Besides Dawn needs shoes...Even if the sisters are not on good
speaking terms...

***
Dreg was slightly disappointed on learning from his scouts that the Slayer and
her sister were not at home this night...He had worked out such a brilliant
scheme for playing on a human tendency he'd noted at "our place"...the
Sunnydale Mall...Human interest in any document offering 50% off...

He would simply knock on the Summers' door, make the declamation, and when the
door was opened to him and his fellows...Ah, well...A truly intrepid minion
must adapt to any situation...and his scouts had reported the Summers' seemed
headed for his chosen battleground...

He alerted Scodos and his own Brethren...If the young ladies were headed for
the battle site...It was time to secure Benedictus...
***

Sunnydalopolis part XVII

***
Things had finally quieted down a little for Ben...Glory had not been active for days so
there had been a reduction in the numbers of the stricken...If he could concentrate on
binding Glory, all might be well...

***

To be damned once without my consent...well, at least without a chance to read the fine
print,Spike thought as he moved toward the Summers home...Well, he'd made the best of
it...no complaining, no whining...unlike a certain LA type he could mention...But to be
damned twice without consent in facing the loss of Buffy Rebecca...Somehow it wasn't
fair...Not sporting...Worthy of a serious complaint to the management...

The scheme she had worked out with Warren was dangerous on all levels, and played on their
own worst fears...for him, her death...for her, madness... However much trust he might place
in the abilities of his partner, Warren the "cybergenius"...
***
He'd reached the Summers home...No lights...Birds flown the coop for the evening?... Thought
Buffy was supposed to be under the influence....? Well, hope they have a good time...Must
remember to tell Buffy Rebecca her sisters are out on the town when she gets back from her trip
to the mall with Willow...Back to the crypt, a fine walk, good exercise, avoids the danger
of...Wait...where do two young women in Sunnydale go on a Saturday
night?...Uh,oh...No...ridiculous...Well...best to take a look-see...

He sets out for...the Sunnydale Mall...
***
Willow has told Tara who they have been spending a pleasant mall experience with...

"She seems very nice...Her aura is just like Buffy's..."

Anya has just realized that she has been talking to that "nice robot" and not to "selfish Buffy"...

Fortunately, while Xander, the human killing machine, entrusted with the future defense of Dawn
in the battle with Glory, has "gone far away" at Anya's request...Willow and Tara are close
enough...to protect her...from the "nice robot"...just in case she turns out to be a homicidal
maniac...

"Anya, we can't let them see us..."

If a potentially homidicial robot gives you an order...
***

It being the 21st century, the Order of Knights of Byzantium is open to all genders...
Therefore it was easy for the three couples sent by the Emperor to pose as relatively
ordinary out-of-towners, engaging in the Sunnydale Mall experience... None was happy
about the prospect of assassinating a young girl but all realized the terrible risk of
Glory's successfully accessing the Key... On orders, they shadowed the Summers',
Buffy and Dawn, closely...but not too closely...

They had special instructions to avoid a confrontation with the Slayer...if possible...
***

"Ah, sir..." Dreg smiles respectfully at Ben as he and a dozen Brethren surround Ben
in the hospital parking lot... "So good to see you again..."

"Dreg...What are you up to...?" Ben doesn't need much more time to resecure Glory in his
web...If he can just play for a little more...

"I would appreciate it if you would allow me to reciprocate your generous hospitality of the other
evening..."

"A few too many for that restaurant, Dreg..." Ben can't risk being knocked unconscious at this
stage...Just a few more hours is all he needs...

"I thought perhaps...the Sunnydale Mall...quite spacious enough for our purposes...You
did wish to acquire information as to her divinity's actions...?"

Ben can't help feeling there's no need for Dreg to be subtle with a dozen goons backing him up...

"Maybe we could do it another night, Dreg...I'm all in..."

"Alas, sir, I fear not..."

***
[Play theme for Mall Night...]

It might have been expected that the entry of Dreg, resplendent in his new suit as befitting the
Commander of the Goddess of Glory and Victory's legion...and a dozen equally squat and scabby
Brethren with Ben to the atrium area of the Sunnydale Mall would have been met with at least a
reasonable degree of curiosity by the thronging shoppers...However this is discount night at K-
Mart and...this is after all, Sunnydale...

However...the three couples shadowing Buffy and Dawn at the behest of the Byzantine Emperor
were not so blase...Word that Glorificus' followers were massing was quickly relayed to the
Emperor...
***

Buffy, still groggy from medication, has had it with her sister's monosyllabic responses...If she
loves that sex robot of Spike's so much...she can just go...

If she could only have five minutes alone with Spike and Buffy Rebecca...To discuss their little
problem in a calm and reasonable manner...Oh the joy...

She spots Spike...Decked out in tweed suit...At the front end of the Mall...
***
Ms. Summers, spying the distinguished cybernetist, Dr William Walthrop peering cautiously into
mall stores...decided to make an impromptu renewal of their acquaintance...A brief consultation
regarding his recent achievements in the field of advanced cybernetics...

***

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