Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
We continued across the lonely New Mexico landscape until we saw a bonfire burning in the middle of the highway. Next to the flames was a man swinging a broadsword, attempting to fend off a ten foot long black scorpion. Spike slammed on the brakes and Ken, Gordon, Spike, and I piled out.
"You some more of the Dark Man's crew?" the swordsman had shifted to keep the scorpion between him and us.
"No! We're t'see Tante Abagail!"
Gordon unslung his shotgun and was keeping it trained on the huge bug, while Ken and I moved to its left and right and Spike moved in from the back.
"In that case could I get a little help?"
"Workin' on it mate!"
At the sound of Spike's voice, it spun to face him and attempted to sting. He rolled to one side and the scorpion missed completely. As it was recovering for another stab, Ken and I dived on its claws and held them closed. Spike dived onto its tail and clung to it as Gordon stepped forward and emptied the shotgun into its head. After a few lame twitches it collapsed.
"That was simple," Gordon was reloading. He hadn't bothered putting on his armor before exiting the RV so he was only wearing a t-shirt and boxer shorts with the suit's boots.
"Speak for yerself ya pillock!" Spike had disentangled himself from the stinger and was dusting off his coat. He offered me and Ken a hand up, which we took.
"William! Are you alright? I would be terribly angry if you had been harmed," Dru had exited the RV followed by Wills and Giles.
"No problem pet. Just some vermin that thought itself above death an'all." he lit a cigarette and cracked his neck.
"Who are you people?" the rescuee was a man about five inches taller than me, wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and boots. Parked near the fire was a motorcycle with various stuff, including a guitar, strapped to it.
"I'm Buffy and this is Ken, Gordon, Spike and Drusilla, Willow, and Giles. Now who are you?"
"As in Scourge Spike and Drusilla!?!"
"You got it mate...Now answer the nice Slayer."
"A Slayer named Buffy? That has to be a joke."
I broke one of the scorpion's claws by stomping on it, "So not a joke...Mister Dead if his next sentence doesn't include his name and an apology!"
He looked down at the Buffy-footprint shaped hole in the inch thick scorpion shell, "McDonald, Lindsey McDonald. Sorry about the comments."
"How d'ya know about t'Scourge an t'Slayers, now?"
"I used to work for Wolfram and Hart."
"Wolfie and Who?"
"Wolfram and Hart, Slayer. It's best to think of them as Old Scratch's legal team. Were you one of their barristers mate?"
"Yes, until the superflu closed down the LA office. Then my boss told me to go to Nebraska to help. Apparently the Senior Partners were a little pissed about evil being worked without their permission."
"Now that's funny! Satan havin' a hissy fit and all!" Spike was snickering now.
"This one has dreamed of the old woman as well. There is more good in him than he admits."
My watcher spoke up, "Right then. Seeing as were a little crowded now, we can't really offer you a lift. However, you are more than welcome to caravan with us."
Lindsey looked at the scorpion and looked out into the darkness, then back at us.
"All right, but can we leave in the morning? I still have to get some sleep."
The next morning we left bright and early, Lindsey leading the way on his bike. We had moved some of his stuff onto the RV's roof rack and Ken and I were going to swap off riding with him as backup. I had the first day and we took off.
It was beautiful and clear. This far out from the main roads the amount of wrecked or abandoned vehicles was far less than what we had been finding and the air was much clearer. Soon we had crossed the border into Oklahoma and were coming up on Boise City.
I could see the swirling crowd of crows circling the sky when we were still about tree miles away and I tapped on Lindsey's shoulder and pointed. He pulled to a stop and the RV did too. Giles and Ken walked over and I told the three of them what I saw.
"Ayah, d'ere d'ey are..." Ken was squinting into the morning sun and pointed. "Mus' b'two or t'ree hunert of d'em."
Lindsey and Giles pulled out a map and were poking and and arguing at it.
"So, what's the what?"
"Well we can probably cut around, but there's no telling what sort of nonsense is on the side roads, plus we could be ambushed quite easily."
"Your watcher's got that right. The terrain in this area is perfect for a bushwhacking."
Gordon and Willow had gotten out by this time, Gordon in his armor.
"What the hell is that?"
"Hostile Environment suit. It's called an HEV. What's the problem?"
"Weird looking flock of crows off to the east?"
Gordon pressed a switch on his forearm and a panel opened revealing a storage area with a folded scoped crossbow.
He shouldered it and looked towards the flock, "Damn that's a lot of birds," he handed it over to Giles.
"The question is whether they're summoned or not."
"Maybe there's like a crow party going on?"
"I hope so Wills. So, what's the plannage from you big brain types?"
Giles began to polish his glasses, "Well...if we go forward, we might get some information on who or what is involved."
"We also might die."
"Yes, Mister McDonald. We might die. However we have two Slayers, two vampires, a gentleman in combat armor and the three of us. We might need a significant amount of killing to be performed."
"True enough. Okay, let's go forward then. But if I die, consider yourself haunted watcher."