Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 20 - Trials and Tribulations
Spike and Xander Harris wandered through the cemetery near his apartment. The gravestones were dark shadows in a lightless landscape and, not for the first time, Xan felt a pang for Hyena. Bitch though she was, his nighttime eyesight was better when she’d been present. He still dreamed of her and thought he heard whispers from her once in a while when he awoke suddenly.
“Let’s make our way in the general direction of the motor lodge,” Xander told the vampire. “I want to check on Donna and her boyfriend.”
“You’ve been clear: Dawn is going, I’m not following. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m not going to be happy no matter what comes out of your mouth about it.”
“Where’s a vampire attack when I need one,” Xan muttered.
Spike only snorted in his general direction before lighting another cigarette. “I’m bothered that we haven’t heard from Giles.”
“You’re bothered? About Giles not being over your shoulder? That’s new.”
“I’m worried about what he may be saying; don’t want a bunch of Council twits tramping about… not all of ‘em would bother understanding that a vampire with a chip in his head can be an ally, if not exactly a white knight.”
“Giles wouldn’t bring up anything that would cause them to come here. As far as they’re concerned, Buffy is still in charge and they know how much trouble there will be if ‘she’ thinks they’re butting in.”
“Magic, Xan. Magic. You never know what they’re using it for… for all we know the Watcher is on a rack being interrogated with truth spells and spilling everything he knows about Sunnydale.”
“Thanks for giving me something new to worry about. And, I don’t believe you. But, thanks for scaring me, anyway,” Xan sighed into the night. “It’s been too quiet lately.”
“It has. I’ve taken out a few vampires here or there, but….”
“Something big coming… so early?”
“Can’t say…,” Spike stared off, scanning the darkness around them.
In the cheap and tacky hotel room, the girl calling herself Tangina sat on the floor. Her back was propped against the mattress and her legs splayed out in front of her. Between them sat the witchboard and its immobile planchette.
Tangina breathed slowly and deeply, trying to become receptive to Sam, her spirit advisor. Keith and Donna had left, she worried and he angry (as usual) when Sam wouldn’t answer her question about where the vampires were that they sought. She told him to just wait for her to come up with something, but he was impatient (as usual) and being a prick (as usual) about it and told her he’d just wander aimlessly around town. Like, he was just going to so happen to run across them….
Whatever, Tangina rolled her eyes, before shaking out her hands and trying to meditate again. It wasn’t usually this difficult to reach Sam and he wasn’t the type to ignore her… at least he hadn’t been until they’d arrived here.
Oh, come on Sam! You’re really damaging my psychic-cred here.
The flat triangle on its base of three points twitched under her fingers momentarily before the entire board flew up off of the floor and across the room, startling a scream from her. In the back of her mind she heard the voice she imagined Sam would have if she could ever talk to him aloud whispering one word… ‘Danger’.
The Hellmouth Wisp, now trapped within what passed for Dawn Summers’ soul, gazed mesmerized upon an ever shifting three-dimensional vista. It could feel Dawn’s energy twining around and through it, but it was no longer fearful or disturbed by it. This girl It had wished to possess and inspire into murderous deeds was different than anything It had encountered before, and while It knew It had been trapped, It found Itself no longer afraid of being destroyed.
Around the insubstantial thing, there were scenes as if from the girl’s viewpoint. As if the Wisp-being were seeing through her eyes, but these things weren’t occurring in the real world. Through her physical sight, It could tell she was alone, looking at papers and generally being boring.
In this space within however, she was seeing entire worlds: a vampire with a soul leaping in front of someone she instinctively identified as ‘sister’ and taking a bullet meant for the Slayer, a vast panorama from a beach gazing out over a purple sea, an underground cave or tunnel of some sort - the dark dirt staining her hands, holding some man identified as a son - blood streaming from his nose and mouth, a classroom full of small children listening in rapt attention to whatever their teacher - Dawn - was saying….
It was very much like this girl had an entire multi-verse of realities within her, if only she could see them. It could not hear any of these worlds… in this space It was deaf to these internal realities and to the outside world where It had so recently had Its fun and frustrations.
It could see not just other-earths, but entirely other realms: worlds of eternal shadow, hell dimensions, bright and shiny mountains with winged humanoids soaring… each vision more fascinating than the last. And none of them staying in view nearly long enough for It to get any but a brief idea of what each world would be like. It imagined this is what it would be like if It was connected to the Hellmouth that It had traveled through to get here - portal upon portal just waiting to be opened all contained in a single point in space/time.
The next vision to appear around It was a dark night except for the star-filled sky. There was a two lane road surrounded by desert and it was leading toward Sunnydale. It did not know how It could determine that, since there were no road signs, but It believed it without question.
On the road was some sort of two-wheeled vehicles that Dawn’s mind identified for It as motorcycles. And upon these were demons… two dozen of them… and they were coming to wreak havoc. It knew this and It was pleased.
And, It was disturbed and fearful for the girl… which It found disturbing in and of itself. It was being changed somehow and didn’t want to be, but didn’t know how to stop whatever was happening to It.
The scene shifted again to a world where Dawn’s bleary hand was holding a smeary stake. As if she were crying heavily. The hand jabbed outward into the chest of a vampire - a middle aged woman who identified as ‘mom’… and then the scene shifted again to a new world….
But the Wisp found Itself distracted by the vision of the motorcycling demons on their way to Sunnydale… it had been more ‘solid’ than the others either before or after it.
Rupert Giles found himself appalled and angry as he sat on a backless bench in the center of a large circle. The room was built of virgin wood, by some Order or another hundreds of years ago. Surrounding him were row upon row of benches laid out in a giant circle and leading up six rows deep. From the shadowed reaches of these benches eyes peered at him, some judgmental and glaring, others sympathetic and others unfeeling either way.
Somewhere in the rows was Lavinia Mills. It was unusual for a ‘civilian’ to be in the venue, but as she already knew too much anyway, Quentin made the necessary arrangements for her to attend this hearing. She was to act as a character witness of sorts and as resident expert on Sunnydale, since Giles wouldn’t allow the Slayer or any of her intimate circle to travel to England - despite her repeated attempts and Quentin’s strongly given advice.
In front of him, also on a long curved bench, were eight women and three men dressed in long robes and wearing various symbols hanging from silver chains around their necks. This was the Coven that the Watchers Council had forged strong ties to in the very earliest history of the organization. Though the Devon Coven technically remained a separate entity, the links between the two organizations were so many and so daily that they effectively acted as one. They were often called upon to act as jury in cases where magical abuses were involved among Council staff.
Giles could feel the resentment that would ordinarily cause the dark magic still permeating him to want to explode forth at those who sat in judgment of him. But he was currently chained by both wrists and feet to the floor. All of the metal from the cuffs to the ring in front of him that the chains that were attached to it were made of heavy iron with ivy branches woven into the chain links. The chamber floor and ceiling were covered in Celtic lettering and symbols stopping him from unleashing his magic on the hoard around him.
The Watchers sitting in the stands spoke to one another, looked over files prepared about him or just sat sizing him up. The witches in front of him sat stony-eyed and peering at him with curiosity. He could feel their magical senses, immune to the symbols and anti-magic incantations protecting this space, feeling him out and it only served to strengthen his anger.
Not that he didn’t already know that this was coming, and he wasn’t resentful because of any perceived injustice. He knew his strong negative feelings were generated by his dark magic ‘infection’ and he knew that the witches in judgment of him knew it as well. At least they weren’t likely to take offense and hold his wanting to reach out and hurt them against him….
This place was lost in the deep woods of the Yealm valley with both the illusion of a broken down and tiny cabin and fear inducing magicks to protect it from intrusion. He’d only been here once before during his last year in London, just before being dispatched to ‘take control’ of his Slayer.
‘Take control of…’, that had turned out to be a laugh. But Buffy had proven herself unexpectedly adept at both recognizing the responsibility of her power and, after a rough start, accepting of it and she’d grown to appreciate his role in her development once her initial resentment had passed. And, of course, when he’d stopped acting the pompous ass that these people had turned him into….
It had taken him longer than it should have to understand her reluctance, her deep desire to be more than just an automaton in young girl’s form that the Council had assumed she’d be… a living weapon that they could wield at their leisure. They’d never talked about it, why not he wasn’t sure, but clearly much of her initial resentment of him was probably tied to Merrick. There could be little doubt that John Merrick had swept into Los Angeles like he’d owned the place and had initiated the Council’s program as they’d all been taught. And Buffy, having already been through that once only to have her ‘mentor’ killed so quickly surely was hesitant to accept another into her life - especially since she’d never wanted to have ‘super powers’ and the responsibilities that they came with. He would have realized the emotional impact of that death on her if he also hadn’t been brainwashed by these sanctimonious, authoritarian group of old, fat men.
Another wave of resentment and hatred for those surrounding him now rushed through him, but he struggled to tamp this down, knowing that these feelings were being amped up by his condition. Besides, the Council wasn’t all bad - it had given him a purpose once he’d decided to accept it and they had given Buffy information on Glory and on how to contact a Guardian to help her. More, they’d come to a truce with her, allowing her to receive their assistance, without their iron control….
No, no they aren’t all bad, Giles thought as Quentin presented his opening statement in this farce, But I’ll still crush you all!
End Ch 20