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Choosing For Herself

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The Buffy that wasn't really Buffy-- though it had been an awfully long time since she had seen the real Buffy; did that mean she was the really-real Buffy now?-- stared up at the enormous metal beings battling in the streets of Mission City.

There was nothing like them in her memory banks; when she had parsed her decision tree for a destination after the collapse of Sunnydale, the potential existence of 'giant robots' had not been a recognized condition. She didn't know how to label their importance, or the danger they presented, and trying to apply knowledge she didn't have to the situation was coming dangerously close to triggering a divide by universe error.

Heavy gunfire flashed up and down the streets as she stood there, from several directions; the un-Buffy didn't appreciate that much, either. Guns were not useful for Slaying; she had not been programmed to use them, and if her body intercepted a shot at the wrong time, she had no repair center anymore. It took exponentially longer for the technomagic that had made her and her decommissioned sisters possible in the first place to repair major trauma than it did for her friend Willow to put her back together-- but she had no idea where Willow was. She had no idea how much time the gap in her memories represented, either; just that she'd onlined to find herself lying amid the debris of a collapsed town, and had sought to rediscover her purpose ever since.

Without Spike's washboard abs and sinister attraction to motivate her, what was she to do? The only other programming she had was Slayage, but without a Hellmouth, what would she slay? Did these machines need to be slain? She was so confused.

But wait! Her attention sharpened, escaping out of its indecisive loop, as a strange electric sensation jolted through her. A human boy ran by; he'd just dropped something, and was picking it up again-- something, she abruptly realized, that the big robots were fighting over. One of them, a towering red and blue structure, seemed to be defending him; but the other, made of sharp silver edges, was not. It said humans didn't deserve to live! And she was supposed to protect innocent humans! That was what slaying was all about.

Determinedly, the Buffy that might yet be strode forward to add her reenergized strength to the fight.