An ambulance entered the steel refinery, driving around several wrecked vehicles and into the plant itself. Unattended machinery ran on unconcerned as processed ore was melted down into molten metal. The sound of gunfire was swallowed up by the noise of the machine.
Sarah would have completely overlooked the irony of that, even if she hadn't been stabbed in the shoulder by a terminator a short time before.
That the T-800 named 'Uncle Bob' by John Conner would have recognized it was even more ironic.
"I now know why you cry," Bob announced, getting ready to lower himself into the molten steel. "But it's something I could never do."
"Hold the phone," Xander said cheerfully as he and Lisa stepped out of the shadows, causing the three to whirl around despite their tired and injured state.
Sarah tried to push John behind her, but lacked the strength. Bob quickly stepped in front of them.
"We come in peace," Lisa promised, wincing at the state of the three.
"We're here because your alterations to the timeline have all been closed loop affairs, increasing the possibility of the creation of Skynet," Xander said stunning the three.
"What?" Sarah asked in shock.
"Your son was born because you knocked boots with a soldier sent back in time to kill you, because your son was born," Lisa explained. "If the soldier had never come back in time there would never have been a reason to send a terminator after you."
"And if not for the bits of terminator it left behind when you destroyed it, Skynet wouldn't have been created. Right now Uncle Bob has left an entire arm jammed in a machine-" Xander explained.
"Got it," Faith interrupted, joining them with a bloody arm.
"WE come from outside your timeline, so we're your best bet for disrupting the loop," Lisa said firmly.
"WE want to take Bob with us, negating a large chunk of possibility that allows Skynet to send cyborgs back to this timeline," Xander finished.
"Even if what you say is true, my entry into your timeline would spread the risk of Skynet developing in your reality. The possibility of Skynet having a sleeper program in me that would allow it to recreate itself and send Terminators back in your timeline is unacceptable," Uncle Bob reasoned.
"Fuck, he's right," Faith said with a groan, returning his arm.
Xander handed over the keys to the ambulance and a bag of gems. "Fine, take Bob and use him as proof to start a grassroots movement before the government has a chance to develop Skynet. We'll just have to go with a different choice."
"I told you destroying yourself was stupid," John said, tears in his eyes.
"I-I..." Sarah fell silent.
"Total reality reset," Lisa agreed. "Go with the flow for now and work it out in your head later, the cops are on their way."
"Thanks," Sarah said. "Lets go," she ordered, hobbling off with her son's help while Bob kept them covered.
"Time?" Xander asked as they appeared in the living room.
Lisa checked the watch she'd left behind. "Ten minutes. We spent about a day and a half and it only cost us ten minutes real time."
"Well, that was a bust," Faith said. "What other droids can we buy?"
"Has to be human enough to pass," Xander said.
"So, no Johnny Five or Kryten," Lisa said thoughtfully.
"Data could pass as albino," Faith offered.
"He has a life," Xander pointed out. "We need one that won't have a problem doing menial chores for a couple of years, won't go Skynet, and is closer to a machine than a person so we can buy them."
The three thought that over for a moment.
"Vicky Lawson," Faith said with a grin.
"Who?" Lisa and Xander asked.
"There was a show called Small Wonder," Faith explained. A brilliant robo-guy made himself a daughter that he raised alongside his son. Appears human, but sounds a bit robotic and is very literal minded. He's a family man who managed to build her on a shoestring budget so she's more user friendly than any military project and isn't going to cost millions."
"Works for me," Xander agreed.
Ted Lawson was bent over the workbench in his shop, squinting behind his goggles as he worked on a delicate solder job just when three young adults appeared in a flash of light. Catching the reflection of the flash off his beer can, he spun around. "I can explain-" he began and then fell silent realizing the only entrance to his shop was opposite where they were standing so there was no logical way for them to have gotten behind him. "How did you get in here?"
Xander looked at the table the middle aged inventor was working on, which appeared to have several disembodied young women on it, but lacked even a drop of blood. "Mr. Lawson, we're here to buy a VICI unit."
"I-I can't sell Vicki," Ted said in horror.
"We aren't trying to buy your daughter," Faith quickly assured him.
"Yeah," Lisa chimed in. "We would like you to build us one."
"Ah," Ted relaxed a little. "Ok, let's back up a bit. How did you get in here without me noticing?"
Lisa vanished and reappeared a couple of seconds later in a flash of light.
"Teleportation, but that's not important-" Xander began.
"Not important?!" Ted exclaimed. "That's got to be one of the greatest scientific achievements of the millennium!"
"Nothing scientific about it," Lisa said. "It's magic based."
"What?" Ted asked confused.
"We're from another reality, a parallel universe," Xander explained. "We've come here to buy a VICI unit from you for an obscene amount of money, after which we'll depart."
"I-I'm on candid camera?" Ted guessed.
Xander handed him a backpack.
Opening the backpack, Ted stared in shock. "Holy!"
"That real enough for ya?" Faith asked with a grin.
"I-I'm overwhelmed," Ted admitted sitting down. "Teleportation, magic, and alternate universes exist."
"Whoa," Faith said shaking her head. "I think he's going into shock!"
Before anything more could be said the door to the workroom opened and a twelve year old girl, wearing a red and white dress that wouldn't look out of place on a sixties housewife, entered. "What did you do?" she demanded in a voice that sounded a little like it came out of a synthesizer.
"Information overload," Xander offered as the red haired girl glared at them. "He just needs a minute to reboot or a smack upside the head."
Walking around the table she scanned Ted up and down before raising her hand and drawing it back.
"I'm good!" Ted suddenly blurted out, raising his arms to protect his face.
She lowered her arm and gazed at him impassively.
"Don't hit me," he ordered lowering his arms.
"Yes, father," she agreed.
"Now that you're good again," Xander said, "we'd like to buy a new unit. It would be helpful if your daughter contributed to the programming, but we'd like one that isn't going to miss her family here."
"What's her purpose?" Ted asked.
"Purpose?" Lisa asked.
"What do you need her to do?" Ted asked.
"Housekeeping and security," Xander explained.
"Our city is infested with demons," Faith added. Seeing Ted's frown and feeling his disbelief she decided to expand on that. "Remember we're from a different reality and our city sits on top of a portal to what we like to call hell dimensions. The creatures from those planes feed off of negative emotions, like pain and fear, and are the basis for most stories about monsters and demons."
Xander looked at Faith surprised.
"Unlike Buffy I have at least paged through the handbook," she told him smugly.
"I believe you," Ted decided. "Well, I was just putting the finishing touches on Vicki's next upgrade, but I suppose I could sell it to you and use the money for the more expensive redesign I had wanted to do but couldn't afford."
"Redesign?" Vicki asked showing some interest.
"I had some ideas for a couple of subsystems that would more closely mimic normal human biological functions and a limited self-repair ability that would allow you greater independence," Ted explained. "My problem was a lack of funds to carry it out."
"I-Thank you father," Vicki said, before removing a mole on her left arm, revealing a data cable that she plugged into the naked android on the workbench.
Ted beamed, his pride at his work eclipsed by his pride as a father.
The four appeared in a flash of light.
"Everyone good?" Xander asked as he checked to make sure none of his clothes were turning into sand.
"All good," Lisa said after checking herself.
"Ditto," Faith added.
"I detect no errors," the android, who's current appearance was of a twelve year old girl reported, her voice having the familiar synthesized buzz that Ted hadn't been able to remove yet.
"Belldandy," Xander decided as he looked at the sandy blonde haired android and considered what she was going to be used for. "I name thee Belldandy, which is a corruption of the word truth in another language. It's from one anime I like," he explained. "We'll call you Belle for short."
"Works," Lisa agreed.
"Let's get her some clothes before somebody peeks in the window and gets the wrong idea," Faith said, leading the naked android off.
"Something age appropriate, please," Xander requested.
"This was a lot of trouble to avoid doing dishes," Lisa said thoughtfully.
"I'm willing to do a lot more than this to avoid housework," Xander told her collapsing on the couch. "Housework eats up time I could be doing something else."
"Fucking off," he replied. "I have a schedule full of fucking off that I keep procrastinating on."
Lisa flopped down on the couch next to him. "I'll help you get caught up." She flipped the TV to another channel and put her feet up.
Faith returned with Belle right as the Gummi Bears ended. "What do you think?"
Belle was dressed in a black Metallica T-shirt and blue jeans, with a pair of sandals on, showing off painted toe nails.
"Looks normal and appropriate," Xander agreed.
"OK, how good are you at security and household chores?" Xander asked Belle.
"For security, I have extensive files on hand to hand combat and emergency medical aid," Belle replied. "For household chores, Jamie Lawson taught Vicki one rule that sufficed for all household chores."
"One rule?" Xander asked.
"Yes, if you do the job bad enough, you will not be asked to do it again," Belle replied. "It is remarkably efficient."
Faith and Xander burst out laughing.
Typing by: Last Primarch!