2

Buffy and Anya found themselves standing in daylight, on the sidewalk outside the Magic Box. They stood beside a tree, which had been a sapling, but now its trunk was thick and it's branches rose high above the street, casting its shade on Anya, Buffy, the sidewalk and the Shop.

Buffy was still dressed in her grass and mud stained windbreaker jacket, jeans and sneakers. Anya wore her modest blue shop keeper's dress. Each woman carried her own handbag.

The Magic Box was shut down. Its door and windows were boarded up. Every shop along Main Street was also shut down. No cars were parked, and none came driving along. No auto engine was heard. All the parking meters were rusted, and their bubbles frosted over. Plants grew through cracks in the sidewalk, and out in the street.

"You've done it Anya." Buffy said, "We've come to the future. The future Sunnydale is a ghost town."

"No." said the demon. "There are no ghosts here. I don't sense the presence of any being, living or undead, natural or supernatural. Sunnydale is a void zone."

"Well I'd like to know where everybody went."

Anya asked, "Is that what you wish?"

"Yes Anya. I wish to be where people are."

"So you have wished it, so shall it be done."

In a moment, the two were seated in the grandstand of a Sports Stadium, surrounded by a screaming crowd of 50,000 Spectators, watching two teams of 500 armed men and women gladiators, fighting to the death down on the field. More than 100 lay dead in puddles of blood, and no one was holding back.

Anya was ecstatic. "Oh this is wonderful! Oh Buffy! I haven't been to a genuine massacre, since I left the Demon Realm! I love being in this time period! No wussy sports here!"

Buffy grinned, "I'm glad you're glad Anyanka. It's just that I need to find out something about those robots."

"Oh, can't you at least wait 'til half-time, or whatever they call it?"

"Right. No rush. It's just that while were sitting here, people back in our time, might be dealing the next round of robots; and they won't be as easy as to fight as those first two."

"I know; but...but, do you hear the way she's screaming, while he's impaling her?"

"Listen. I understand that this is heaven for you demons..."

"Buffy. When we return, it'll be only one minute after we left."

"One minute? Okay then. I see what you mean. Who likes a good fight more than me? And that guy's a hunk. Let's see if we can get some burgers, fries and a couple of shakes."

"You two!" A strong male voice came from their left. "You two female humans!"

An usher was pointing at Buffy and Anya.

He demanded, "What are doing sitting in the Cyborg Section?"

Buffy said, "Cyborg?"

She looked at the spectators sitting around her and Anya. The men were all dressed the same, in gray pants and tee shirts, with the name Skynet printed across the chest. They all had the exact same face, and the exact same build. The women were also dressed in gray skirts and Skynet tee shirts, and their faces and figures, were duplicates.

Each gladiator down on the field had a different body and face.

Anya said softly, "Everyone here looks like the two who came after Dawn."

Buffy spoke to the usher, who had the same features as everyone else around them.

"I'm sorry sir. We didn't realize we were in the wrong section."

"Let me see your tickets."

"Tickets?"

"Okay! Both of you out of this Stadium! Now!"

Buffy stood up. "Okay Anya. It's time to leave."

"But can't we get tickets to the Human Section?"

Buffy bent down, and whispered to Anya. "Isn't it obvious? There is no seating in the Human Section. The Human Section is out on the field."

"Right! Okay! Let's go!"

As she and Anya descended the steps, accompanied by the usher, Buffy saw that everyone seated on the right had duplicate features. The features of those on the left were different from those on the right, but each one in that group looked the same.

A few minutes later, the two from Sunnydale, were both outside the gate to Skynet Stadium, in a City of glass and steel skyscrapers, all of uniform height, and design. Groups of duplicated people walked around them, moving with synchronized motions. Cars of uniform design drove by.

"Anya." Buffy said, "I now wish to learn about the robots, who came after Dawn."

"So do I Buff. So you have wished it; so shall it be done."

In a moment, the two of them were standing outside the main entrance to a downtown skyscraper, with a sign out front identifying it as SKYNET CORP.

Here, there were also groups of duplicate people, and vehicles of uniform design driving by.

A male voice spoke over an amplifier, above the building's main entrance.

"Greetings! Miss Buffy Summers, and Miss Anyanka Vengeance Demon! Welcome to Skynet Corporation! Please come inside! We have been expecting you!"

Anya asked, "Do you wish you could go back to our own time right now?"

"Not until they've answered my questions."

"I was afraid you were gonna say that."

Buffy and Anya entered the building. Just inside the entrance, a large Cyborg guard stopped them. He went over them with an electronic baton, and checked through their handbags. He removed a sharp wooden stake from Buffy's bag, and put it on a shelf, behind his desk. Then he handed her a numbered card.

The Guard said, "Your vampire fighting weapon, will be returned to you, when you leave the building. I have been instructed to tell you to take elevator number twenty-two, to floor number five zero. Once you reach floor number five zero, you are to walk straight ahead, along the corridor, until you come to the double doors, at the opposite end of the corridor."

Buffy and Anya headed across the Lobby, among many duplicate looking people, who looked at them without emotion. They never show emotion, Buffy thought. Even during the gladiator game, they made the sounds of shouting, but she'd seen no emotions.

They boarded elevator 22, and rode it up to the fiftieth floor. Then they stepped into a deserted corridor, with many unopened doors along both sides. The two moved straight down the corridor, under a line of florescent lights, hearing muted sounds coming from behind the doors; all of which remained unopened.

When they reached the far end of the corridor, the double doors slid open sideways. Buffy and Anya stepped through the doorway, into a plushly furnished office, with thick carpeting, thickly padded chairs and sofas, a large mahogany desk; and artwork hung on dark paneled walls. There was no window. Then the doors slid shut behind them.

A male, human voice spoke through an intercom on the desk.

"Welcome Buffy. Welcome Anya. It's good to see you again, after all these years."

Buffy said, "That voice. I recognize it."

Anya nodded, "He sounds like..."

A door opened in the wall to their right. A youthful man stepped out, dressed in an expensively tailored dark suit.

Anya finished saying, "Warren Mears."

He said, "The very same one you knew back in Sunnydale. In the flesh, ladies."

Anya said, "Flesh that hasn't aged."

"He's a vampire. Right Warren?"

"Right Buffy. I now have fangs, but your sharp wooden stake has been confiscated."

"Are you gonna kill me now? Or try to?"

"No. Not at all. I have no reason to."

He moved over to the desk and sat behind it, in the plush swivel chair.

"As long as I stay seated here," he said, "and you two stay where you are, there'll be no reason, for anyone to get hurt."

Buffy said, "You were expecting us."

"We've known you were coming, ever since the two of you disappeared from Sunnydale, and were never seen again."

Anya repeated, "Never seen again?"

"That was about one month," he said, "before my partner and I founded Skynet Corporation, the manufacturer of every Cyborg that you've seen since you arrived from your own time."

Buffy asked, "Your partner?"

Warren spoke into the intercom. "You can come in here now, please."

The door to the right opened again. A woman around Buffy's age entered the office, wearing a chic, blue business outfit, with matching shoes. Her hair was set in a stylish coiffeur.

He said, "Buffy. Anya. This is my wife."

She said, "Good afternoon Buffy."

The Slayer nodded, "Hello Amy."

Anya said, "He's made a robot, Stepford wife?"

"No." said Buffy. "She's a vampire too."

"Wait a minute." Anya told Amy, "The last time I saw you, you had a sharp wooden stake, sticking out between your boobs. Buffy'd drove it right through your heart."

Anya nodded, "She thought it would keep me from becoming a vampire."

Warren's wife went over to the desk, stood beside him and smirked. "There was one thing you didn't realize Buffy. Your friend Willow, wasn't the only powerful witch in Sunnydale. It'll take more, than a popped open heart, to put an end to me."

"Right." Anya said, "She should have set you on fire too."

"So Warren." Buffy said, "What have you done with your unlife? You've gone from being a weirdo, who built toy girls to play with, into being what?"

"The CEO of Skynet Corporation, who's Cyborgs are running the world."

He patted Amy on the hand. "I couldn't have done it without her."

She smiled sweetly at him.

"She's the one with the great business sense. I've always been in charge of the manufacturing, while she's run the business side of the Company."

Buffy added, "Which includes the world?"

"No." Amy said, "But the ones who do run the Government, were manufactured by us."

Now Anya spoke. "Well if you're so almighty powerful, why'd you send assassins back into our time, to kill her sister Dawn? They said it was to prevent her, from becoming the ancestress, to a leader of your opposition."

Warren told her, "That was a Government decision. Sending the Terminators had nothing to do with us."

"Except that you manufactured whoever, or whatever, sent them."

"It's like anything else that's manufactured." Amy told them, "The way it's used, is entirely up to the purchaser."

"I see." Buffy spoke. "I've heard everything I need to know. Now I know what I have to do."

Warren said, "You mean go back to your own time, so you can kill Amy and me, before we can get Skynet Corp. off the ground?"

"That's the general idea. Pre-emptive strike.

"Anya." Buffy said, "I wish for you and I to return to our own time and place now."

The demon Anyanka said, "So you have wished it; so shall it be done."

Then Anya vanished from their sight.

Buffy remained in the office, alone with Warren and Amy.

"I'm still here?"

Amy said, "I'm an even more powerful witch now Buffy, than I was back in Sunnydale. I just blocked your part of the Vengeance Demon's spell. You didn't think we'd allow you to go back to your own time and kill us, did you?"

"If I don't. Anyanka will."

Warren said, "She will try. Her head was found impaled on a stake about one week after you both disappeared. People kept on searching, but they never found your head."

The two of them got up from the desk, and headed toward the door on the right.

Amy said, "So have a good day Buffy. It was nice seeing you again."

"What?" Buffy was confused. "You mean I'm stuck here, in your robot governed world?"

Warren said, "I'm sure that shouldn't be a problem for someone with your talents Miss Summers. You're a Slayer, and at Skynet Stadium, they're always on the lookout for bloodthirsty warriors. Their gladiators get paid very well, and there's always a big employee turnover."

Then he and Amy stepped through the doorway on the right, and the door shut behind them.

The double doors behind Buffy parted, and slid open sideways.

Buffy felt dazed as she returned the way she'd come, going along the corridor, past the long line of unopened doors; and down the elevator to the lobby, where she picked up her sharp wooden stake, put it back in her handbag, and stepped outside, into the warm sunlight.

She looked around, at the thousands of duplicate Cyborgs, who couldn't be staked, at the uniform cars, and the uniform skyscrapers.

I'm lost! She thought, Do I go right, left or straight ahead? Go to where? To get something to eat. Can a human being get anything to eat in this Cyborg City? Warren and Amy eat. They're vampires. It's human blood for them. They need live humans to supply their nourishment. The only live human beings I've seen in this City were the gladiators.

Maybe I do have to become a gladiator. How do you get to the Stadium from here? Is the Stadium in this City?

Then the Vampire Slayer spoke softly. "Anyanka." she said, "If you can hear me, I wish to return to my own time and place now."

In a moment, Buffy was standing in the dark, on a side street in Sunnydale. Up at the corner, traffic was going by, under the arc lights on Main Street, but where she was standing, on the west side of Whedon Street, there were only shadows.

She thought, I'm back.

She saw two figures moving in the dark, across the street, in the parking lot behind the strip mall. Their movements were synchronized. They were Jack and Jackelyn. They stepped out of the parking lot, across the street from Buffy, when she heard a woman cry out.

She and the unison pair looked toward the cry.

In the dark, Buffy saw Warren holding Amy tight in his arms, with his fangs sunk deep in her neck, and she was dying. Then he let her go, and she fell dead at his feet.

Then Jack and Jackelyn came over to Warren, and spoke with him for a moment. He pointed toward Main Street. They headed where he'd pointed, with synchronized strides, and turned at the corner to their left.

Buffy had moved through the darkness, taken the sharp wooden stake out of her handbag, and come up near Warren, unnoticed by him.

She heard him say, "Amy. It's too bad you're too dead to see this."

"Warren."

He turned, and saw Buffy standing beside him, holding the stake.

He said, "Slayer?"

"Warren." She said, "It's too bad, that you and Amy, are gonna be too dead to see your wedding day."

Then she rammed the stake into Warren's heart, and he exploded into a cloud of dust.

Buffy choked and coughed on some of the dust, and she fanned it away with her hand. Then she knelt beside Amy, who lay sprawled on her back, and raised the stake again.

"Sorry Amy. Can't take a chance, on whatever company you might end up running. Who knows what your customers might do, with whatever you produce?"

Then she rammed the stake into the dead woman's heart. Amy did not explode into dust.

Buffy then removed the stake and said, "I just don't happen to have a gas can with me at this moment, so this'll have to do for now."

The Slayer reached through the wound, grabbed the witch's heart, and ripped it out of her chest.

She said, "I would've been a terrific gladiator."

Buffy rose up to her full height, walked over to a dumpster in the strip mall's parking lot, lifted the lid, and tossed the heart inside.

She shut the lid and said, "It feels great to be back home."

Buffy went to the corner, turned left and looked for the Terminators. She did not see them. She hurried down the street to the Bronze, and went inside. The robots were not here; but Anya was, so was Dawn, Xander and Willow, all sharing the same booth.

Willow was saying, "Doesn't matter Dawny. I'm her very best friend in the entire world, but if I perform one more act of evil witchcraft, your sister's the one, who'll be burning me at the stake."

The blonde haired Slayer stepped up to the table. Her leather jacket and jeans were caked with vampire dust.

She told Willow, "If you're planning to perform any tonight, you'll have to take a number, for the burning."

Anya said, "Hi Buffy. How things going?"

Xander said, "Hey Buff. Had a rough night, dealing with vampires, at the Cemetery?"

"Yes Xander; and with robots from the future too."

They all looked puzzled.

Anya asked, "Robots from the future?"

"Listen everyone." She told them, "I have seen the future, and it's not gonna work."