The Empty Grave
A New Journey
To an outside observer it would be quite an image. On this small bluff overlooking the town of Sunnydale three distinct objects cast their long shadows over the landscape. The still fresh sun continued to rise slowly over the horizon. One of the objects was a spire, pointing to the sky with the effigy of a Old One affixed to the slanting side but the other two was where the observer should be looking.
One was a six and a half foot silhouette of a man, his cloak billowing to one side and an angular black mask that was both expressionless and menacing. He was looking down at the last object. Two people crouched in what was once sunlight. Cowering from him. There was no outside observer but if there was they would probably have ran away at this point._____
Xander held his breath. This was not good, in fact this was very bad. Willow was still crying into his arms, blissfully unaware that Darth-fricking-Vader was there. Looking at them like they were just important enough to spend a whole second crushing them under his armoured foot. ‘Well this is officially the worst day of my life.’ Xander felt his best bud tense at his words, her sharp fingernails digging into his arms.
‘Give her to me.’ The black clad cyborg quietly demanded. As one Willow and Xander stood up. He could tell she was gob smacked at the sight of what was for all intents and purposes a very bad dream. ‘Child, you’re skills are impressive and your pain only fuels you to greater extents. Together we could learn all there is to the Force and rule the universe.’ Wordlessly Will cringed behind Xander, closing her eyes and covering her ears. Xander made sure to place himself between the two. ‘You cannot understand the destiny she has chosen boy. Only I can show her the true path.’
‘Don’t you bad guys ever think of something more original. “Her destiny lies with me young one”. Get a life.’ Xander desperately tried to sound confident but Willow stumbled backwards forcing him to take a few steps with her. He knew there was nowhere for them to go. With a cliff behind and a psychopath in front their options were pretty limited.
‘She has begun on the path to the Dark Side. Nothing can stop that now. Give her to me and save your life.’
‘Sorry, I’m not going to let you do that to her.’ he had a plan. It was along shot but it might just work. Looking over his shoulder he silently tried to tell her what he was going to do but Willow was too scared to notice, or even care. Picking the terrified Wicca up in his arms he stood teetering on the bring of the fall.
‘You will not, you cannot.’
‘Free will. We can pretty much do what we want. Jackass.’ He hoped he sounded as desperate to Darth Vader had he did to himself, otherwise this wouldn’t work.
Wordlessly Darth Vader lunged at him and Xander jumped to the side. The world slowed down as Xander rolled on his shoulder, almost placing Willow on the ground before standing up all in one move._____
Vader saw the roll happening only the instant before it came to be. The boy was willing to kill them both to keep her from the Dark Side and he had let that fact blind him to the obvious trap. Cursing as his mechanical limbs reacted too slowly he could only helplessly watch as his momentum carried him over the precipice and down.
‘Happy landings!’ called the ignorant child who had tricked him. He probably believed he had won. Vader reoriented himself before the ground met him head on. Once again he was underestimated, his command over the Force was without equal. Something the boy would learn all too well by the time he was finished._____
Willow watched as whoever it was spun on the way down. Any hope that it was just one of Warren’s toys collapsed in ruins when he used his mystical energies to land without a scratch.
‘You have got to be…’ Xander started before the black shape beneath looked up. With a deathly chill Willow knew he was grinning at them, gathering his energy for something new.
‘Xander, we’ve got to run!’ With a giant leap Darth Vader cleared more than twenty feet of cliff face before grasping onto the rocks and throwing himself another twenty.
Together they ran faster than Willow had ever ran in her life. Despite the distance the two of them were at the doors of the Magic Box before they knew where they were heading.
Passing through the broken door Xander glanced at her with an odd mix of guilt, sympathy and accusation that Willow had to shy away from. Inside the gang were all there, even Giles who Dawn was clinging too. ‘Guy’s. We have a problem.’ Xander started.
Everyone’s eyes were on her and Willow could feel their anger, their hatred and even their sympathy. All of which she didn’t want. Everything she did and said under the influence of the black magic had hurt them badly. Was she even welcome here? Dawnie’s face told her no. ‘What problem, SHE’S not going to try and unmake any of us again is she.’ The girl spat.
‘Look we’ll talk about all this when the universe hands us a brake. There is something more important than Willow.’
‘What is that Xander? Do tell.’ Giles said with barely hidden sarcasm.
‘Darth Vader’s here.’ Willow said not meeting anyone’s eyes. The following silence was deafening.
‘I don’t see him or the Death Star. Try again.’
‘We just gave him the slip Anya. This isn’t a joke…’
Out of nowhere Dawn simply exploded at them ‘You’re making this up! You want to make this all someone else’s fault. You’ll blame everything Willow did on DARTH VADER! “Darth Vader made me do it… I didn’t want to kill those people a character from the movies told me to do it” you make me sick.’ With that the girl stormed to the front of the devastated shop and glared out the window.
‘Dawn that’s not true…’ Xander started but Willow could tell no one believed them, They all thought Dawn was right._____
Dawn couldn’t stop crying, she couldn’t tell if they were tears of anger or sadness. Somewhere behind her Xander was pleading with the others to listen. “Star Wars” was coming for them. Like anyone would believe that.
Ever so carefully it felt like a blanket was draped over her mind, numbing her thoughts… Slowly her tears stopped and she could see what she was looking at. A black shadow with three red lights flashing on and off. Somewhere on the edge of her hearing she heard the sharp wheezing and hiss of a mechanical bellows. Oddly curious she went outside, standing there was the back shadow of somebody. She knew his name but couldn’t place it. As she looked up into the angular mask some dim corner of her mind realised that Dawn wasn’t the one in control.
‘Who are you?’ the stranger asked. Dawn answered absently, there was something icy cold weighing her thoughts down. ‘Dawn, a pretty name. What happened to the red haired girl?’
‘Tara’s dead. Will…’ This was wrong, she knew who this guy was… it was important. She had to do something… The ice inside her thoughts spread like a living thing slowing her down, making her tired. ‘Willow bad. Bad… Wrong… think…’
‘Your struggle is pointless. I could rip your mind apart and learn what I want from the tatters of your soul. Answer! The red haired girl, Willow, why did she turn to the Dark Side?’ he needed to know. She must tell him.
‘Revenge for Tara’s death. He… he killed Tara and Willow killed him but the magic took… took her over.’ She knew it was wrong to speak telling this stranger and she knew why, if only she could reach it. His name, it was important. He was dark… Dark… Darth… He was Vader.
Suddenly she felt the ice crack and then shatter. Dawn woke up instantly, reality snapped back into focus with almost painful clarity. He was Darth Vader and she was outside, alone, with him. Not of the good. ‘Buffy!’ she screamed before he threw her through the remaining window._____
Buffy shuffled her feet. When Dawn had left the group a deadly silence had descended, punctuated with Willow’s crying. ‘Guy’s it’s not that we don’t believe you but you have to admit that Darth Vader is just a step too far. Tell us what happened.’
‘Buff, I caught up with Willow on the bluff and talked her down. Alright so she scratched me a bit but its nothing serious’ Buffy wasn’t sure about that. She could see the blood and the gashes. ‘Then out of nowhere he appeared and did the whole join me or die thing and I tricked him over the cliff.’
‘So you killed him?’ asked Giles.
‘No. He kinda landed on his feet and started jumping up the cliff. So me and Wills ran for it.’
‘Why is that familiar.’ muttered Anya before adding loudly ‘Did he follow you?’
‘We gave him the slip, no way he could have flowed us.’
‘Buffy!’ Shouted Dawn the instant before she came flying through the window and the one stack of shelves that was left standing. Buffy ran to her sisters side, she had a ugly cut above her right eye and glass in her hair but, thankfully, there were no broken bones.
‘Buffy! Watch out!’ She looked to where Giles pointed to see some geek in a Halloween costume kick his way past the door.
This guy had scared Willow and hurt Dawn. Oh yes he was going down. Standing up Buffy grabbed one of the weapons that were scattered across the floor, a long sword. ‘Alright geek boy, now you’ve made me mad.’ Placing herself in front of him she pointed the sword at his neck.
Unfortunately she then blinked. In that moment the former Jedi knight had more than enough time to cut her sword off at the hilt. Even in the bright morning the glowing red blade cast bloody shadows over the shop, highlighting the sharp edges on its owners mask. In a paralysing instant Buffy knew how much trouble they were in and quite automatically she spoke the first oath that came to mind; ‘Sodding Hell!’_____
Vader sensed a great strength coming from this amusingly small warrior, but she was no Jedi. Absently he delivered a powerful snap kick to her chest, one that granted her a short flight before switching off his lightsaber.
‘“Sodding Hell”? You’ve been spending far to much time around Spike’ The eldest of the group admonished her before helping her up.
As he approached he spared a glance at the child who had defied him. While not seriously injured she was immobile for the foreseeable future. That was fortunate, too many children had died at his hands. He suspected others were to be sacrificed before the day was out. One dead, innocent, girl would have been disconcerting.
‘Giles, any suggestions?’ Asked the boy who had shown such arrogance at their last meeting.
‘All at once we might stand a chance.’ Said the oldest amongst them. At his words those that could charged at him, ignorant of their true importance in this matter._____
Willow held back, she wasn’t any use now. She never would be again. As the four of them stepped forward Darth Vader raised his hand; it was a claw. She had seen him do that before; ‘No!’ but her shout was too late. They all seemed to collide with each other before hitting the floor.
In horror Willow watched as they bent double, struggling for breath. He was choking them all at once! She stood there helpless as he stepped over them, coming closer and nothing could stop him.
End Chapter 2