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Chapter 6 The Great Destroyer
Say your name.
Try to speak as clearly as you can.
You know everything gets written down.
Nod your head.
Just in case they could be watching.
I hope they can not see
I am the great destroyer.
-Nine Inch Nails
The Great Destroyer
Rupert Giles leaned over Willow’s shoulder and stared down at the astrological pictures displayed on the laptop. He had never really cared for computers and if pressed on the subject, would readily admit to an innate aversion to them. He reread the email from England and stared again at the screen. Standing up straight, he removed his glasses and began to clean them while he thought about what he had just read.
Willow pushed away from the table and gazed at Tara seated next to her. Giles’ apartment was quiet early in the morning and they could both hear the squeaking of the Watcher’s handkerchief as he vigorously polished the lenses.
Tara sighed. Although she hadn’t known Giles as long as the others, she had soon caught on that the harder he rubbed the lenses, the worse the situation. Right now he was almost rubbing the lenses completely out of their frame. She knew that what she and Willow had discovered, coupled with his own information, had to be bad, really bad.
She glanced at Willow, a question in her eyes. Willow shrugged her shoulders in response, sighed also, and spoke up. “So, Giles, what we found is important, huh?”
Buffy’s Watcher placed his glasses back in their correct position on his aquiline nose. “Yes, Willow, it is indeed important. I can’t imagine why the Council has neglected to alert us to this, um, situation, although it is conceivable that they are unaware of the problem.”
She watched the emotions cross Gile’s face as he spoke. It didn’t really seem as though he was any more convinced of the Council’s ‘unawareness’ than she was.
Willow had never trusted the Watcher’s Council. Personally she thought they were a bunch of old men stuck in the nineteenth century who probably didn’t even own one decent computer between them. After all, they always had the Slayer to stop the most recent demon threat or the latest apocalypse. Being the Chosen One was extremely important, but Willow knew that someday it would probably get Buffy killed. When that happened, Quentin Travers and the other Council members would sigh and call the next Slayer, while shaking their heads at the unfortunate incident that ended with the inopportune demise of Ms. Summers.
Willow shuddered at her morbid thoughts but the Council never helped Buffy or the Scooby’s, so she didn’t know why she would expect anything different this time. They would be on their own as usual.
She was still lost in her thoughts, when Tara spoke up hesitantly. “So, Mr. Giles, w-w-what should we do now?”
“Well, I believe the first thing we must do is telephone Buffy. Even though the two things have nothing to do with each other, it’s important to keep the Slayer abreast of all current developments. As soon as she and Spike kill the Cantilly, she will be traveling back to Sunnydale and she should know of the problem before then.”
Giles began to issue orders. “Tara, I want you to call Xander and tell him and Anya to come over for a meeting as soon as possible this morning. Willow, I would like to confirm the findings as much as possible. Peruse the Hockney Moon Diaries. His discourses on astrological and magical portents are found in the unabridged second edition, which I believe is on the third shelf.”
He reached for his telephone. “I’ll attempt to reach Buffy.”
Buffy and Spike had grimly slogged through the stiff underbrush, wet sand and pouring rain for almost an hour and finally reached the clearing with the cave entrance just before dawn. Buffy immediately recognized the rock formation as the one from her dream.
Spike’s phone abruptly started singing happily about sunshine. He ducked under the cave’s overhang, grabbed the phone before the chorus and grimaced. “When we get back, the very first thing, Red’s changing this.”
Buffy snickered. “Maybe you should go with that Concrete Blonds’ song. You know, the one titled ‘Bloodletting’? Or maybe, since you like punk, how about ‘London Calling’ by the Clash?”
“You’re just a bloody walking discography, aren’t ya Slayer? That’s amazin’ since the only thing you ever listen to are those horrible boy bands.”
He raised the phone to his ear and growled. “Yeah, yeah, I’m here. What is it?”
Buffy watched Spike’s facial expressions change as the conversation with Giles progressed. It always amazed her that Spike’s face was so expressive. He always seemed so much more alive than most of the people that she knew.
She chuckled when she heard him complaining about the rain.
Buffy couldn’t get over her mercurial feelings for Spike. In the past few weeks, she had gone from outright dislike to indifference and now, if she was actually honest with herself, she’d moved on to possible interest. Once they’d moved past the early initial strain between them, he had been an entertaining companion and she had laughed several times at his snarky comments and jokes. She’d always known that he had the same sense of humor as she did and she’d quickly realized how much fun he was to be around when that acerbic wit wasn’t directed at her. Buffy had heard Anya mention what a hottie Spike was and she agreed, having caught herself staring at him more than once lately.
Buffy also knew he could match her in strength and stamina, which had been proven over and over again during their earlier fights. Recently, Spike had begun to put all those strengths to better use and had begun to demonstrate how much help he could be to her.
Buffy was becoming more than a little bemused with herself when she realized that she had just mentally ticked off several fairly valid reasons to date Spike. There must be an apocalypse coming.
Spike clicked the small phone shut and placed it carefully inside his duster. He looked over at the Slayer standing near him and drawled, “We’re supposed to hurry this little endeavor up. It seems Red and Glinda have discovered somethin’ fairly nasty in some astrological signs and it’s due to occur in just under a fortnight.”
“Let me guess, does it rhyme with mockalypse?”
Spike snorted. “Is that the best you can do? Mockalypse? You’re losin’ yer touch, Summers, maybe you really do need more sleep.”
“Well, what about you? Is ‘fortnight’ even a real word?”
When they entered the cave, Spike stood back to allow Buffy to enter first. He watched as the gorgeous woman laughing and making up silly rhymes turned instantly into a beautiful deadly machine and as much as he loved the woman, Spike worshipped the Slayer. He would never get tired of watching the dual nature within her.
They walked silently through the antechamber of the cave and Buffy spoke in a low voice. “Can you hear or smell anything in here with us?”
Spike concentrated and shook his head. “There’s some sorta noise farther along, but the rock just dampens and absorbs the sound. What I do hear is banging all around in here, so I don’t have a clue where it’s comin’ from.” He looked over at Buffy with a glint in his eye. “But I can smell something, maybe a couple hundred yards down the left corridor.”
They both glided silently in the direction Spike had indicated. Speech was superfluous; they were both intent on the hunt.
The couple reached a large arched chamber and found about two dozen Cantilly eggs hanging from the rock wall. Round and shiny, they resembled large silver mylar balloons. Buffy took her sword and began to hack at the eggs where they attached to the wall with a tough rubbery membrane.
The eggs made a loud, harsh cracking noise as they fell to the rock floor and it wasn’t long before they both heard the enraged growl of the male Cantilly.
Spike turned toward the sound and prepared to slice with his ax when the Cantilly charged full speed through the tunnel. It was almost nine feet tall and livid. When it attempted to race past Spike, he struck at it with his ax. The ax wouldn’t cut through the incredibly tough hide. When he finally managed to slice through the skin, the Cantilly completely ignored the wound and kicked out, sending the vampire rocketing into a wall fifteen feet away.
The Cantilly flexed its talons and turned back to the other intruder destroying its nest.
Buffy, her back turned, was hacking at the last of the eggs, when she realized the Cantilly was already upon her. She turned around, but with nowhere to go, the Slayer stood her ground. The demon growled deeply and slashed at her with its claws. Pressed against the cave wall, she tried to roll out of the way. When she moved, one of its’ knife-edged talons raked deeply across her outstretched arm.
Spike had quickly bounded to his feet and back into the fight, leaping straight up ten feet to a rock ledge that hung above Buffy. With a loud roar, he vaulted from the rocky projection and swung his ax again. The neck must have been a Cantilly’s weak spot. The ax severed the head cleanly from its body, and the demon fell to the side of the chamber with a resounding crash that echoed loudly throughout the empty cavern.
Spike dropped the ax, jumped down and quickly ran back to Buffy. “Slayer, are you alright? Let me see your arm.”
Buffy pulled off the ruined raincoat and they both stared at the deep gash that ran across her entire forearm. It was bleeding profusely.
She grimaced. “Well, the good news is, I haven’t passed out. Must not have been enough venom to take down the real Slayer.”
Spike reached over and tore the sleeve from the useless coat and wrapped her arm. “We still need to clean out the wound.” He pointed to a flat rock in the corner. “Sit over there while I dig through our kit and bandage you proper.”
Spike gazed ruefully at his ruined ax. Although he had managed to behead it, the bloody demon’s hide had been almost as tough as metal. He stepped over the ax and started to dig in a backpack.
“Spike, I am perfectly able to walk out of here right now.” Having uttered the sentence, she suddenly felt slightly dizzy, she decided to take Spike’s advice and sit down briefly. “I just need a minute. Let me catch my breath and then we’ll get out of here.” Buffy peered at the odd shaped rock. “Hey, Spike, look at this; it’s got some sorta weird markings etched all over it.”
Spike looked down at the rock in question, and shrugged. “It’s a demon language talkin’about a blessed doorway, or some such rot.” He reached in their backpack, pulled out some antiseptic and gauze and started cleaning out Buffy’s arm, while she leaned back against the rough wall.
After bandaging it tightly, Spike stuck everything in the backpack, while Buffy flexed her fingers. The wound hurt, but it would heal soon and bonus, she could still use her hand.
“Spike, what else does it say on the rock?”
He peered closer at the tiny writing. “Slayer, these are the directions to open a portal to another dimension right here in this cave.”
“Can you open it?”
A puzzled expression clouded his aspect. “I don’t know, I’m certainly no expert at this stuff, but it doesn’t appear to take any special magicks. You’re just supposed to read this inscription aloud. Sorta like that doorway in Lord of the Rings.”
Buffy chuckled. “When you lived with Xander, I think you spent way too much time watching his movie collection.”
“It was a book first, pet.”
Spike shifted and asked suspiciously, “So Slayer, why do you want to go walkabout in another dimension? One you don’t know anythin’ about? Especially now, when you’re hurt and your Watcher wants us back. Just what aren’t you tellin’? You want my help; you need to share with the rest of the class.”
She pointed to a large indention in the wall where the Cantilly eggs had been attached. “Remember how hard I was to wake up this morning? I was having one of my all prophetic Slayer dreams and he was in it.”
Spike moved farther to the left and looked closely at the figure hidden from his previous vantage point by the protuberant rock ledge. It was the crude drawing of an archer seated astride a large horse riding through an arched doorway. The archer was holding something cylindrical in both hands.
He shrugged. “Yeah, so what about Robin Hood?”
Still feeling slightly dizzy, Buffy stood up and leaned against the wall shakily. “I think I’m supposed to stop him from doing something, or maybe help him do something.” She frowned. “That part wasn’t really clear”
Spike snorted. “The dream a bit short on specifics, eh Slayer?”
“That’s really all I know. Help me open the portal and I’ll tell you everything I remember about the dream while we go look for this guy. We’ll find him quick and Giles won’t even know that we’ve taken a detour.” She coaxed, “Didn’t Giles say we still had almost ‘a fortnight’ until the new big bad shows up?”
Spike gave in gracefully; after all, it wasn’t his decision to make. “Yeah, he did.” He nodded at the drawing. “This is your quest, Slayer; I’m just along for the ride, but I think you need to tell your Watcher what’s goin’ on. I know if you disappear, he’s gonna somehow blame it on me.”
He pulled out his cell phone and scowled. “But you won’t be tellin’ him using this phone. The soddin battery’s dead.”
He held the phone out to Buffy. There were no bars showing on the little picture of a battery. No one at home had thought to make sure the brand new phone was completely charged.
Buffy handed Spike back the useless phone, removed her cross necklace and placed it on the rock. “There, that’ll give anyone who would actually come looking an idea of where we went. We’ll pick it up when we come back; after all, we’re talking maybe a day, tops.”
Spike searched her face while he slipped a ring from his finger and placed it beside the necklace. “You know, this portal might lead to some sort of Hell dimension and there’s not even a guarantee that we can return the same way. The writin’ doesn’t say whether this is a one way trip.”
Buffy nodded her understanding, rose gracefully and picked up her sword.
Spike pocketed the knife and slung the backpack over his shoulder. “What ever happens, Slayer, I’ll watch your back.”
“I just hope this doesn’t involve magical rings, orcs or evil sorcerers.” Carefully he laced her fingers through his and began reading the incantation.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/185486.html