Notes From the Underground
A/N I have no proprietary claims to the works of HP Lovecraft or to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The importance of Halley’s Comet was mentioned in several of Lovecraft’s stories, as were some of the locations that I have included here. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that have read and reviewed my story.
NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND
March 17, 10 AM
It was a short drop to the floor of the passage; Faith’s legs took the impact easily enough and she rolled clear. It was then that she heard it, a furtive scurrying; almost silent. She turned to look for the source and she saw it, or rather she saw a flurry of hair, teeth and claws. She tried to pull a knife, but it got caught in the lining of her jacket, she tried to tear it loose and brace for the impact at the same time, but it never came. A shadow had blotted out the sunlight that was coming through the opening, followed by a thud and a sickening crunch.
Faith glanced back to see Xander standing over, and in whatever had been coming at her; he was looking at his hand with disgust. “I think ya got him there stud.”
“I think that whatever passed for his brain is now all over my hand,” he replied; trying to shake the grey matter off his defiled appendage. He stood up and took a good look at the creature below him. “Well, it looks like they’re brittle boned, that’s a plus.”
“Yeah, but they’re quick and damn near silent,” Faith replied, “we’ll need to be sharp. She looked at the tunnel, so which way?”
Xander thought for a second, “which way is giving your ‘spidey-sense’ the biggest twitch?”
Faith paused and checked it out; finally she turned to her left and said, “that way.”
“Then that’s the way we’ll go.”
WATCHER’S RESEARCH CENTER, LONDON
10:30 AM Eastern Time
Giles looked at the different piles of papers on his desk, he needed to deal with all of them but somehow he couldn’t get the conversation he’d had with Xander out of his mind. There was something there that was tickling a memory, something about the Catskill Mountains; that he just couldn’t put his finger on. With a sigh he picked up a report on demonic activity in Brazil, Giles was soon lost in the data, the Catskill Mountains forgotten, at least for now.
UNDERNEATH TEMPEST MOUNTAIN
A whisper of air, and a knife buried itself in the chest of a creature. As it died it looked up to see a dark haired woman with her arm extended, then it saw no more.
Faith and Xander came forward slowly; checking to make sure that the little bit of noise generated hadn’t attracted anything else. Reaching down to the body, Faith pulled her knife, wiped it clean and put it back in its sheath. She hated this. When she slayed, the bodies either dusted, or if they were demons, turned to some sort of goo and dissipated; she wasn’t used to having to look at her kills. Combine that with her slayer sense being at a constant ‘Def-Con one’, Faith felt like she was slowly going crazy, she just hoped to wrap this up before she went ‘around the bend’. This place didn’t help things either, it was a maze of tunnels, intersections and small rooms; she felt like she was slaying in a Habbit-trail.
She felt a hand on her arm; she looked up to see Xander looking intently at her, his eye focused on her face. Without words she knew he was asking her if she was OK. Faith gave a little smile and nod and leaned into him for a moment; it was nice to lean on him, to rely on his strength, if only for a little while. Silently he slipped his arms around her and pulled her into a light hug, trying to re-assure her without words, trying to let her know how much he cared and to let her know that if she wanted to back out now, that this was still an option. Faith held the hug for a moment or two, then backed off and smiled a thanks to Xander. Xander dipped his head and blushed a little, then pantomimed that he would take the point for a while and let Faith watch their backs; he could tell that killing their quasi-human opponents was taking a toll on Faith, and he wanted to ease her burden a bit. She thought for a moment, then nodded. Xander gave her shoulder a squeeze, lowered his night vision goggles til they covered his eyes, and he headed off in the direction they’d been going. Faith stood there a moment, relishing the lingering warmth of Xander’s hug, then she pulled a pair of throwing knives and started off after him, her eyes moving constantly, ready for anything.
WATCHER’S RESEARCH CENTER
11:40 AM Eastern Time
“Andrew, what the devil’s the matter; you’ve been fluttering about for fifteen minutes now?”
“Sorry Mr. Giles, I was just wanting to get everything done early so I could take some time off.”
“There’s a comet that’s supposed to hit Jupiter tonight, it’s supposed to be really spectacular.”
Giles looked at the young man with a bit of surprise. “I didn’t know you had an interest in Astronomy.”
“Well…..its ummmm…….kind of a new thing,” the young man stammered out.
“I see,” Giles said with a bit of a grin. “You have a friend with an interest in the subject.”
Andrew blushed, “he’s getting his Master’s from King’s College.”
“Well enjoy yourselves and the comet…..comet….bloody hell, that’s it,” Giles exclaimed and hurried out of the room. Andrew just stood there, wondering what had just happened.
UNDER TEMPEST MOUNTAIN
Xander knelt and took careful aim, he moved as silently as he could because the one thing that he’d learned about these creatures was that their hearing was phenomenal. The thing he was currently drawing down on was gnawing something that looked like a leg, and generating a lot of sound doing it, but he figured, ‘why take a chance’. Gently his finger caressed the trigger and the deadly old Colt spat. The creature dropped without a sound, its skull shattered and brain scrambled. Xander glanced over his shoulder to see if Faith needed any help. She was busy checking the shadows behind them to make sure they weren’t surprised. She caught his eye, gave him a little smile and nod and went back to checking their six while Xander went ahead to see what there was to see. ‘What a surprise, more tunnels,’ he thought as he moved past the body. Actually it was an intersection of four tunnels. ‘OK, which way now,’ Xander wondered as he waited for Faith to join him. Finally Faith came up to him, moving as silently as a slayer can, he saw her checking the different tunnels, then she looked at him. He could only shrug, hoping that she could point the way. Her face was puzzled for a moment, then it cleared and she pointed without hesitation, second tunnel on the left. Xander nodded and was about to take point again when she grabbed his arm and pointed to her ears. Xander thought for a moment, then nodded in understanding, Faith could hear them. ‘So now it gets interesting,’ he thought.
WATCHER’S RESEARCH CENTER
12:15 PM Eastern Time
You’d think that a new archive would be fairly well organized, but sadly that wasn’t the case. The New Council had so many books, scrolls and various paraphernalia coming in over a very short time that some of it was just shoved into files, to be sorted when leisure permitted. Those were the files that Giles was going through right now. He was looking for a map, a map that shouldn’t exist and one that no one had ever been able to determine the origin or significance of it. It had come from the private collection of a Watcher who could trace his lineage back to the Roman Senate and had been stored in a remote “safe vault” so it was unaffected when the First blew the Watcher’s up. Giles had seen the artifact once, and it had made quite an impression. He was about to give up on the file he was searching when he noticed a square of parchment hanging out of another file. He plucked the thing out and unfolded the parchment. A lot of things went through his mind when he saw what was there, but they all could be summed up in, “Oh, dear.” According to the carbon dating they’d done, the map was over 10,000 years old; however it somehow showed the continents in their modern configurations. On the map were 28 X’s scattered all over the continents and the oceans. So far as anyone could determine, there wasn’t any physical pattern to the placement of the X’s. One leg of each X was marked with the Sanskrit word for traveler and a date; in the margin of the map, someone had written that the ‘traveler’ was obviously Halley’s Comet. The other leg was unmarked, but it was believed to have something to do with the moon; twenty eight days being a lunar cycle after all. Giles looked at the scattering of X’s on the map; several he knew: Sunnydale, Ayer’s Rock, The Deeper Well, Devil’s Reef off the coast of Massachusetts, Machu Pichu, Easter Island and Mt. Fuji. But there were others that were mysteries to him: somewhere in the mountains of Antarctica, in the Pacific near Tahiti, the heart of the Amazon basin and the middle of the Saudi desert. But the three that interested him the most were Pompeii, Krakatau and one in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Giles knew the real story of Pompeii, every Watcher did; a slayer in ancient Italy found a temple to some unknown Gods. Seeing that the place attracted demons, she went about destroying the temple. Blaming what had happened next on Mt. Vesuvius was quite a stroke of genius, even if the volcano hadn’t been the center point of all the destruction. Giles suspected that Krakatau was a similar situation and if Xander caused something like that to happen in an area surrounded by so many large cities then the loss of life might exceed twenty million; not to mention the damage it would cause to the planet. Realizing that he needed to contact Xander, Giles was reminded of the static and distortion that accompanied Xander’s previous call. Giles would try and get him on the phone, but he realized that he needed a back up system, just in case. Pulling his phone he started to dial.
“Buffy, thank heavens.”
“What’s with the dire Giles, I thought the Apocalypse meter was pretty low these days?”
“Indeed, however even the most trivial of event can radically change the status quo if it occurs at the wrong time.”
“Uhhhh, once more in English please.”
She could hear his heavy sigh over the phone and just for a second she was back in the Sunnydale High library. “Yes, things are quiet right now, but that could change quickly if someone does something stupid.”
“See, much clearer; why didn’t you just say that the first time?”
“How silly of me, please excuse my good grammar and extensive vocabulary.”
“No prob, now; who’s gonna end the world?”
“Not the world, but a significant portion of the Eastern United States, and the who is Xander.”
“WHAT, I thought he was chasing some kind of mutant cannibal under New York.”
“And so he is, but what he doesn’t know is that under the mountain is a temple to the Old Ones.”
“You mean something like the Deeper Well?”
“Exactly, and this is Xander we’re talking about, what will he do when he finds an evil temple?”
“Knowing Xander, he’ll blow it up.”
“I agree, and there-in lies the problem; the last time someone destroyed a temple of the Old Ones, a large portion of Italy was destroyed.”
“Vesuvius,” Buffy said, fear making her voice husky. “What’s the worst case here Giles?”
“The worst case is the total destruction of Buffalo, Albany, New York City, Philadelphia, Erie, possibly Hartford and numerous smaller towns. Not to mention the extreme climate change from all the debris in the atmosphere. I would say 40 million is not too far fetched a number.”
“So what do you want me to do,” Buffy asked, her voice was almost robotic as the extent of the threat sank in.
“As he is currently under the mountain his phone is inoperative and given the nature of the area my guess would be that phone service is dodgy at best so I need you to go there and make sure that he doesn’t destroy that temple. You do know where it is, don’t you?”
“Yeah, he called and gave me the low down before he went in.”
“Excellent, how soon can you be there?”
“Ummmm about five hours if I drive.”
Giles felt a tremor of fear running up his spine at the thought of Buffy driving across Pennsylvania. “That’s not fast enough; can you get a plane or something?”
There was a bit of conversation then Buffy replied, “I think we can rent a helicopter fairly cheap.”
“Money is not important right now Buffy, just do whatever you must to get there as quickly as possible.”
“OK Giles, we’re on it,” she said and hung up the phone. Immediately she started barking out orders to the watchers and slayers there, she just hoped they’d be in time.
UNDER TEMPEST MOUNTAIN
1:30 PM Eastern Time
Xander could hear it now, the background murmur of voices, bodies moving and things being done. He knew they were approaching the main gathering area for these creatures; the sound was all the proof he needed. It had been slow going, but he wanted to make sure that there were no surprises left behind them and that had meant checking out every room and alcove along the way. His Colts were both warm from use as he had taken the burden of killing on himself to spare Faith the necessity; but now he reluctantly waved her forward because if he could hear them, then they could hear the sound of the automatics, even if they were silenced. With a grim nod of understanding, Faith took point and they started off again towards the sound.
IN THE AIR ABOVE EASTERN OHIO AND WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA
1:45 PM Eastern Time
Buffy looked around her and tried to ignore the deafening noise. She was riding in a helicopter with Alistair, Cassie and Jerry (Jerry was from Zimbabwe and since no one could pronounce his name correctly they just called him Jerry) headed for Tempest Mountain. She looked over at Al and asked, “How did you get this thing on such short notice?”
Alistair smiled at her, “take a look around for a second, do you see any windows?”
“That’s because this guy handles travel for well to do vamps; I persuaded him that helping us out was in his businesses best interest.”
“Darn, that means that there was threatening and I wasn’t there to do it.”
“That’s OK, if this thing goes south then you should have plenty of threatening to do.”
“Yeah but it’ll be threatening Xander and seriously threatening a friend isn’t nearly as much fun as scaring monsters.”
“So what do we have in the way of a plan?”
“Well it’s pretty straight forward; I figured we could buzz Tempest Mountain first, if Xander’s car is there then we land and Jerry and Cassie wait at the car while we go looking. If it isn’t there then he’ll likely be on Maple Hill, that’s the place he said you could see the evidence from, right?”
“So we’ll head over to Maple Hill, find him and make sure the Eastern US doesn’t go sky high.”
“Simple, I like that.”
“OK, we’re about two and a half hours out, get a nap if you can,” he said and handed her some ear plugs.
Buffy fitted them in her ears and leaned back in her seat, she hoped Xander would listen when if they had to tell him to stop, but he always was stubborn when it came to giving up something he wanted to do; and Xander did like blowing stuff up.
UNDER TEMPEST MOUNTAIN
2:00 PM Eastern Time
Faith was waiting as Xander eased up next to her. Right in front of them was an opening into the main living area. The opening was situated above the floor of the chamber, and both of them could see the earthen ramp that led down and away. Trying to remain in the shadows as much as possible, they both eased forward and took a good look. The room was big, but that was mostly vertical space. The area of the floor was fairly small, about the size of a basketball court. The whole thing was lit by a glow that was coming from a structure built into one side of the cavern. To Xander it looked like a temple, it was just too elaborate and ornate to be something more mundane; and the darn thing was glowing like a firefly. The light cast showed the two that there were about fifty creatures on the floor of the cavern right now, but more were showing up all the time. Xander wondered at this until he noticed a web of energy make its way down the wall and into the temple. Soft and far away he heard a booming noise and he realized that weather prediction or not, it was storming up on Tempest Mountain. He remembered from the story that he had read how storms worked these creatures up into a frenzy and figured that the sound of the storm was calling them to the chamber. He also figured that whoever had put the temple there had created the mountain around it so that it would attract storms and the natural energy from the lightning would be a constant source of power for whatever went on in there. He motioned to Faith and the two of them crept back into the darkness. Putting his mouth next to her ear he whispered, “we can still leave if you want to.”
“Nah stud, we’ve come too far to go back now; besides, these things need killing.”
“True, but I could do it and you just watch my back, you don’t have to shoot if you don’t want to.”
She shot him a look of gratitude, but at the same time her face hardened. “I’m a Slayer, it’s what I’m supposed to do Xander, so if you’re pulling a trigger then so am I.”
“OK then, I say we give the storm another five minutes to get everyone here, then we pop up and say ‘hello’.” He opened up the bag of grenades, “here, take a few party favors.”
“Thanks, I will,” Faith replied, reaching into the bag, “but I want it officially known that you are a dork.”
“I think that’s pretty much common knowledge these days.”
“Maybe, but I want it officially in the records somewhere.”
“Fine, I’ll write a memo; now, before we get all happy with the explosives, try to keep em away from the building, OK.”
“Why, I figured you’d want to drop that first thing.”
“Nope, I saw lightning running into it, and I don’t want to blow something up that’s been collecting energy for God knows how long without a real good reason, or some distance.”
“Cool then, no blowing up the building just yet.”
Xander pulled his MP-5 around, released the safety, checked the clip and set the gun for three round bursts. Faith did the same but set her gun for full auto; after all she was strong enough to handle it on that setting. Giving each other a smile and a quick kiss for luck they both pulled pins on grenades, stood up and went to war.
CONDO NEAR OPANA POINT, MAUI; HAWAII
9:30 AM Local Time; 2:30 PM Eastern Time
After a ringing for thirty seconds, the phone finally produced some results. The bed covers rustled and a rather bleary blue eye appeared to glare at the offending implement. The eye was attached to a tousled head of brunette hair and an almost elfin face. The face at the moment though, looked more homicidal that elfin. Finally coming to the conclusion that whoever was calling wasn’t giving up, Dawn reached over and answered the phone, “this had better be damn good.”
“Morning Dawnie, sorry to disturb you but it is kinda important.”
“Buffy, what’s going on, I can barely hear you.”
“Sorry, it’s the helicopter we’re in; real quickly, do you have some way to get in touch with Xander other than the phones?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well you all work together in that weird place; did you all do some kind of mutual telepathy or something like that?”
“We just need to get in touch with Xander or Faith and they’re out of phone range at the moment; Al was hoping you or Oz might have some way of reaching them that we didn’t know about.”
“Why do you need to get in touch with them?”
“Well, there’s this possibility that Xander might just accidentally blow up the entire Eastern United States, or at least a good chunk of it. So we were gonna try and stop him cause, hey we kinda need the country in one piece.”
This last statement finally cut through the fog in Dawn’s brain. “How could he possibly do something like that?”
“According to Giles there’s this temple whosits under that Temper Mountain or wherever and Giles thinks it’s the same kind of temple that set off Mt. Vicious in Italy way back when.”
Taking a moment to translate what her sister had just told her Dawn realized what was going on. “You mean there’s a temple of the Old Ones under that mountain, and Giles is afraid that if Xander destroys it then the whole region might go up?”
“Yep, so there’s no way you can get a hold of him is there, cause this is very much of the dire.”
“Sorry Buffy, we’ve got nothing here.”
“Dang,” then the voice changed, “well enjoy yourselves there and tell Oz that I hope he learns from his mistakes or we’ll be having a nice little chat, Slayer to victim.”
“He knows, and if something like that did happen; you’d have to wait your turn cause I’d have first dibs.”
“I know; sorry I woke you Dawn and have fun.”
“Bye Buffy and good luck.”
“Thanks,” and the connection was broken.
Dawn sank back into the covers and snuggled back up against Oz, who had slept through the whole call; but she couldn’t go back to sleep, and she couldn’t manage to get warm again.
UNDER TEMPEST MOUNTAIN
2:45 PM Eastern Time
It hadn’t really been war; it was more of a slaughter. For all their agility and speed, the creatures just weren’t able to avoid or shrug off gunfire the way demons and vampires could. The grenades had taken a fearful toll, and what was left after that, well the MP-5’s finished up. It had helped that the creatures only seemed able to attack, the notion of running just didn’t seem to be wired into them. Five minutes after the first grenades had been thrown, Xander and Faith were down on the floor of the chamber; Faith looking for any clan symbols on the bodies and checking out the temple from the outside while Xander finishing off the wounded. Quietly he moved up next to her when he was done. She turned to him, noting the slightly haunted look on his face, “so what do you think X?”
Hearing the question, Xander looked up at the temple and replied. “I think we need the C4 from the car.”
Faith looked at the carnage around her, “well at least it’ll be quicker getting there and back than it was getting down here the first time.”
ABOVE LEFFERT’S CORNERS, NEW YORK
4:20 PM Eastern Time
They had circled around Tempest Mountain and hadn’t seen anything but some ruins. Buffy thought she saw some tire tracks down there, but she couldn’t be sure. Now they were headed for Maple Hill, and having a little trouble because the GPS had started going wonky once they had come close to the mountain. Finally they had the right direction and were making top speed in that direction. Buffy was tense, she could tell that it was gonna be close and she didn’t want to think about what would happen if they were late. “Got em,” Al called out from the co-pilot’s chair, “a green SUV with two people next to it.”
“Get us down there now,” Buffy called out over the intercom as she opened the side door. There they were; she could see Xander fiddling with some sort of boxy contraption as Faith just looked on with a bit of a grin on her face. ‘It won’t be in time,’ Buffy thought as the chopper swooped in and with that in her mind she jumped, even though they were about thirty feet off the ground and moving fast. The impact hurt like nothing she’d ever felt before, even a hit from Caleb hadn’t so completely totaled her. But the urgency of the situation spurred her on and she rose up and headed towards her two friends.
“B, you OK,” Faith called out.
“Not really, but I will be,” she called back, then looked up to see the looks of concern on both their faces. Faith was looking at her with a curious expression on her face. On Xander she could see the expression of concern turn to one of relief when she’d said that she’d be OK.
“So what’s with the stunt dive,” Faith asked.
Buffy ignored her sister slayer for the moment and asked, “is that a detonator Xander?”
Xander just held up the boxy thing in his hands, “you mean this?”
She nodded and he just grinned, “Yep.” And before she could do anything else, to her horror; he pushed the button.
Buffy heard a muted ‘thump’ and saw dust and dirt rise from a few odd places on Tempest Mountain, but that was all. “We’re not dead,” she said after a few seconds “why aren’t we dead?”
“Ummm why should we be dead B?”
“Because Captain Dynamite there blew up that temple under the mountain and it was supposed to then blow up a lot of stuff,” she replied, both angry and very confused.
“I didn’t blow up the temple Buff; I just sealed off all the tunnels that led to it. Come on, yeah I’m a little explosion happy but I’m not stupid.”
“So you recognized what the heck it was,” Buffy asked, the relief at not being air pollution coming through in her voice.
“Actually Faith pointed it out, and we figured we’d just seal it off and if we needed to we could come back and finish the job.”
“Well, that’s a relief; Giles was pretty frantic about the whole thing,” she looked down, “actually I was too.” She had to speak up at this point because the helicopter was landing near them. Al, Cassie and Jerry came over and Xander explained the situation. “How about we head into town and we’ll go over everything that happened over dinner?”
“Sounds good,” Alistair replied. Then gesturing to the helicopter, “you two want a ride?”
“No thanks,” Faith said. “We’ll take the scenic route.”
“You mind if I come with you,” Buffy asked.
“Not a problem B,” Faith said.
The three lapsed into a comfortable silence while the others headed back to the helicopter and it took off.
He had found them, the butcher’s that had killed his clan and sealed off the temple. He would follow them, then find as many of the clan that had survived and exact their revenge. He waited for the noisy thing to head back into the sky, wanting to use the noise to hide his movements. As it began to rise he stole a look back at the defilers over his shoulder and did not understand what he was seeing. The golden haired one had her arm pointed to where he was; then there was a sharp pain in his head and darkness took him for the last time.
The three walked over to where Buffy had thrown her knife. In the undergrowth they found one of the creatures with the knife sticking out of its forehead. “Nice shot B”.
“Thanks, is this what you all had to take care of?”
“Yeah, about eighty of the damned things.”
“Gross,” the blond slayer said as she pulled her knife out of the corpse.
“You’re tellin me, it was dark and nasty and my slaydar was pinging big time.”
“I’ve found that chocolate helps in situations like this.”
“Well, they’ve got milk-shakes at the diner near our hotel,” Xander offered.
“That sounds good, then you can tell us about what happened and we can celebrate not being blowed up, and stuff ourselves silly all at the same time.”
“I like the way you think B,” Faith replied as they all got into the SUV.