edited on 05/26/09 -- thanks amigodude
In the years leading up to his road trip Xander Harris had spent many an hour reading the classics of road culture, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson and of course William Burroughs. Right this second Xander would have said that no psychedelic flight of fancy could match the terrible images bedeviling him now as his Devil's Root fueled brain tried desperately to interpret the world around him. Strange voices and sounds lead him though the dark hallways. His eyes caught weird shadows flitting ahead of him. Sometimes Spike walked with him, sometimes he walked alone. Finally he stepped though a door and there in front of him were three people sitting around a fire. Distant plains seemed to stretch off toward a dark horizon.
Spike beckoned him forward, "Pull up a rock Harris as dream states go this is pretty bleak is this really what goes on in your head. No wonder Red had to hold your hand for most of school."
Xander looked at then other figures grouped around the burning campfire. Looking at Spike with some hostility was the First Slayer. He had not seen her for a long time and hoped never to see her again.
"What's she doing here?" He asked "Isn't that the First Slayer?"
She was the manifestation of the Powers of the Slayer and was perhaps the first girl to ever possess those powers. His first meeting with her had been a particularly vivid dream in which she had tried very hard to kill him and the rest of Buffy's friends and allies.
Spike smiled, "Yeah I think she feels safe here. I guess the pussy-whipped smell nice and homey."
The cloaked figure spoke in a voice as much male as it was female. "As long as there has been a Slayer, there has always been a few among the Watchers who clearly see their duty of care toward them."
Xander looked at the girl who smiled at him and cooed. "That's effed, why would she feel safe in my head?"
The blond vampire snorted, "Weren't you the one preaching to the Maid about how much you loved Buffy and the Slayers or was that just BS for her benefit."
"Rosarita can smell lies like a dog, “Xander replied grimly, "I'd be dead now if she thought I was BSing.
"But you were BSing her, I mean you didn't tell her about the Slayer. I mean the dead one."
"I don't want to talk about that." Xander snapped, "What about the Cloak?"
Sitting next to The First Slayer was a cloaked figure. Xander watched as the figure threw kindling into the bonfire. The blaze would flare up and strange images would appear inside the dancing fire.
Inside the flames Xander saw a young bright eyed Buffy doing a cheer routine. The images swirled again and Xander saw still another cheerleader. The absence of shades and sneer almost rendered Eda unrecognizable.
Spike sneered at him, "What do you know Harris, your cheerleader fetish is a consistent one."
As Xander looked into the flame it swirled and changed again. Now he saw a young girl gunning down a fat man. Xander watched as she straddled his fallen form and shoved a pillow over his face before pressing the gun barrel down and pulling the trigger again. There was an all too familiar feral grin on her face and a grim look in her eye.
Revy's small shoulders looked so different without the tribal tattoos she would sport later in life. He wanted to reach into the flame and stop her, turn her around.
"Too late boy,” The Cloak seemed to know his thoughts, “this one is beyond your aid."
"You can always change your life.” Xander snapped defiantly, “You just have to want to."
"Something’s can't be changed." Cloak threw more kindling into the blaze and the image changed. Now it was Xander pushing a stake into a vampire. Xander looked at the exploding vampire. It was Jessie, his best friend turned to a vampire during his first adventure with Buffy. "So boy, are you a master of your destiny or a puppet in its service?"
Xander stared grimly at the scene. "I do what I think is right."
"So do Revy, Eda and the rest of them." Spike argued, "They ain’t bad. They just got a raw deal. That is what they tell themselves right?"
"Your point?" Xander snapped,
"What you do with the cards you get dealt is as important as the cards you get dealt."
"Sorry Xander no speakie- mystical mumbo-jumbo. You'll have to spell it out for me." Xander snapped in a fair imitation of Shunhua's pidgin English."
"You could have a hearts high straight flush and still lose the game if you want to badly enough." Spike sated calmly,
"You aren't just talking about me or Buffy here, are you?"
"Your Slayer is hunting Death as surely as Death is hunting her." The Cloak muttered before adding more fuel to the fire. Now it was showing images of a young Latino girl with very familiar blue eyes. She was barely Dawns age yet she was breaking a rifle apart and putting it back together with a mechanical precision that was all too familiar.
"I already know that Rosarita is a little screwed up."
"She has been forged in the same fire that has produced the greatest of warriors. They survive and triumph regardless of obstacle or challenge."
"How am I supposed to stop someone like that from killing all the Slayers if she gets it into her head to try and do it?"
"You cannot, only another can guide her from the madness and back to the light she desperately craves." The Cloak made the fire flare and Xander saw a young boy and the Maid in a horse drawn cart. The look on their faces was one Xander could not recall seeing on the Maid save for that minute or two when he had been babbling about Star Wars. It was this person that she had been recalling when she had seemed so far away. This must be Garcia.
"Who are you?" He asked the cloaked figure.
"Are you sure you want to know Harris?" Spike smiled knowingly,
"Who are you?" Xander repeated knowing and yet still dreading the answer.
"I am tired Boy; I wish to return to my sleep. End this war or I will awaken and when I wake, my hunger; my thirst, will be such that all you know will be sacrificed to it."
"You’re one of The Old Ones, the sleeping gods; Giles told me about you once,” Xander cursed in frustration, “I wish I could remember what he said."
"He told you not to screw with them." Spike said snidely,
"You live in Roanapur?" Xander asked mystified that such a powerful influence could go unnoticed.
The Cloak snorted "I do not live in Roanapur it is, in fact, quite the opposite."
"They built the city around you?" Xander asked incredulous, "If you had a whole City built on top of you, is a little gun battle really causing you such a fit?"
"The Battle is of scant concern to me boy.” The Cloak snapped, “It is what the battle represents. The manipulations of The Three Who Rule as One; they would claim my power along with the power of misery they seek to control."
"Powers of misery, Wait, you mean the Root? This is about the Root?"
"Where misery sweetens the earth; there grows what you call The Devil's Root."
Spike chuckled, "The vial, dumb-ass, didn’t you notice what the crap in the vial tasted like?"
Xander looked at the vial and the Devil’s Root in his hands with growing realization. “They are the same. One is Old Coke, one is New Coke. They both start out in the coca fields. But the Root is in its natural unprocessed form. The crystal dust is …
"Like switching to light cigarettes after you've had Cuban cigars." Spike supplied,
"The FARC must know about this stuff if they are carting around the vials."
"The FARC are hired help. If you knew the kind of power sitting under every coca field and poppy garden on the planet would you really risk your power by telling that secret to the step-and-fetch crowd."
"Even errand boys will eventually clue into the possibilities especially with the Bloodhound fragging them left right and center."
"Now you see why our host wants the brake put on this little party fast."
"Hey show me the exit door for this little head trip and I'll be more then happy to deal with the latest crisis." Xander sighed,
The Cloak pointed off in the distance, "Follow the sounds of battle and you will find your way back to your place Boy, if I was you I would hurry especially if you would save the Hound from her own war madness."
"Yeah no worries I'm on it stop the war save the day."
"Right I'm doing it."
"Look in the fire boy"
Xander saw Rosarita covered in blood and gore standing over the boy Garcia. “That can't be real. The Maid would never hurt Garcia."
"You're seeing the vampire and a wind swept plain in the middle of an urban landscape. The root of misery opens the mind in many ways and it can change the pathways of an already opened mind."
"Spike you want to help me out a little here." Xander sighed
"The Maid's all fucked up just like you 'cept of course she was already seeing weird crap before this."
"Oh god, she thinks she seeing things." Xander swore and was turning when the cloaked figure grabbed his arm.
"Let me go I have to save him I have to."
If you would be a savior then you must sacrifice." The Cloak started to drag his arm toward the flame. "Sacrifice boy or you will never be what you wish to be."
Suddenly Xander's fevered mind cleared. He saw in the midst of the flames a something shining. He reached into the flame to grab at the shining thing and instead of heat he felt the cool smoothness of a doorknob he turned it and light flooded his senses.
He had burst through a door to see The Maid standing over prone form of Garcia. Her finger was tightening on the trigger when Xander cried out.
She looked up at him and smiled a death's head grin. "I hoped you would survive the FARC you continue to impress me."
"... And you’re freaking me out. What the hall are you doing to the kid?"
"The Demon…” She said dismissively gesturing toward the senseless boy at her feet; “he is nothing more then a figment of your imagination just like he is mine."
"I'm pretty sure I know the difference between reality and drug induced fantasy."
"You took the plant the same as I did. I can smell it on you, do you really think I would trust that you can tell real from false."
"Rosarita...no Roberta I'm telling you; that is Garcia lying there. If you pull the trigger you'll never forgive yourself."
The Maid looked at him balefully, “I see, you are not the boy. Perhaps the FARC was too much for him. I'll avenge his death as I plan to avenge Master Diego." She leveled her gun in his direction. "As for you... adiós demonio."
Xander heard the muscles of her fingers stretching. He began moving as the bullet came out of the muzzle of the gun. Xander wondered if he was still coming down from his Devil's Root high. He darted toward her already knowing that fighting the woman would be a death sentence. She was adjusting her aim finger tightening again. The bullet sang past him. He jumped, kicking off the wall and swinging his foot around. Roberta's head dropped, but only as much as was needed to avoid his kick. She was punching out at him. He spun out of the way of the oncoming fist. He came in low, wrapping his arms around her and picking her up. He ran with his burden down the hallway trying to ignore the furious hammer blows that she rained down on his back and broad shoulders. "This is going to hurt." he groaned as he hurled her backward though a boarded window into the darkened room beyond.
Turning quickly once his hands were free, he looked around. There was a body on the floor. A quick search of the corpse showed this one was carrying some kind of PDA. He grabbed it and another vial of the crystal dust discarded on the floor. With his prizes, he scooped up Garcia in his arms and ran down the hallway. Xander was no fool. If Roberta came to her sense and realized it was indeed the real Garcia she had seen she would come after Xander to get the kid back and likely would not be that merciful when she caught up with him. If she was totally lost to her berserker rage then she would be coming for him anyway. Either way there was only one group he could hope to find shelter with that might keep him alive long enough to talk the Bloodhound down.
He was just figuring out how to track them down when a door burst open and three male soldiers and a girl Xander recognized as one of the Slayers came through. Holding Garcia out in front of him so that the Marines could see the unconscious boy Xander announced loudly. "I'm an American civilian and I'm trying to get this child out of harms way I need to speak with your commanding officer now."
Roberta raised herself from the floor. The boy was a fool if he thought a simple body tackle was all that was needed to stop her. Then she heard a rustling in the darkness and saw ragged figures shuffling forward. They were vampires, a full dozen in the room, awakened by the sounds of fighting in the hallways.
So he had not been trying to defeat her. He had instead turned her stratagem against her. He was using the vampires to delay her long enough so that he could escape. Roberta smiled; she had survived and witnessed all the hells that men could conjure into this world. A dozen vampires weren't going to slow her down for very long.
The Vampires closed on her. One that was the leader chattered at her in a language she did not understand. His meaning however was clear. He thought her a victim and was about to do to her what he did to all victims.
"Vampiro de señor de buenos días." She said with a grim smile, "I'm sorry but I might have to be rude. I hope you enjoy yourselves." she flew at them with a bloodthirsty howl. The lucky vampires died quickly. Only a few were lucky.