As they flew near Djose Temple the airship began to lose power, and the engine started smoking. Dawn sighed and sat it down just outside of the temple. Grabbing Mizu she ran off toward the engine room to fix the problem, leaving the others to do what they wanted.
After an hour of waiting Buffy stood up grabbed Willow and then Tara, and took off toward the temple. Walking into the temple grounds people turned and looked their way.
"Everyone's staring." Tara said uncomfortably
"You're famous, Tara. You'd better get used to it." Buffy said patting Tara on her shoulder.
"All I want is some peace and quiet!"
"Poor thing." Buffy whispered to Willow. "She's led such a sheltered life."
"Maybe she's getting old." Willow whispered back making Buffy laugh.
"Who's getting old?" Tara asked in a dangerously low voice as she turned around, causing Willow's eye's to widen as she pointed to Buffy.
Buffy choked in-between laughs as she screeched, "You said it! Not me!"
Tara shook her head and watched a blond man with an eye patch over his right eye passed by. "Who's that?"
"That's Gippal, leader of the Machina Faction. He can be kind of annoying, but he's all right." Buffy said trying to get at Willow, but gave up when she ran behind Tara.
"Okay," They heard him say and turned toward the temple. "Let's do some interviews. Bring it!" he walked inside with two men following.
Heading inside the temple after the crowd of people left they saw Gippal shaking his head, as he walked down the steps to the trial door.
"E ryja ymnayto ehdanjeafat baubma. Uha uv oui kioc dyga ujan." (I have already interviewed people. One of you guys take over.) He said and turned toward the girls. "Huh?"
"Hello" Tara said as he walked over.
"You here for an interview?"
"The great High Summoner wants an interview?"
"Yeah, all right, follow me." He said and led the group outside to a bridge. "Never been this close to a celebrity before." Gippal leaned in a few inches from Tara's face, "Never been this close to a celebrity before. I could get used to this." He said and was pushed back by Willow.
"How 'bout you don't! That's a little too close, if you ask me." Willow said gripping her sword.
"Okay, okay. Don't get your shorts in a bunch... there would be nothing to cover you if you did." He said causing Willow to growl, and then looked at Buffy. "Well, if it isn't Joyce's girl. How you been?"
"Hey, I have a name!"
"Heh. Dawn doin' okay?'
"Yeah, same as ever. Mizu's around, too."
"Same as ever would have to be right... just don't let her see me, okay? She's still pissed off about me putting a lizard in her bed."
Buffy glared at him. "You know that was a fiend, right?"
"Yeah, I thought she could use the training. Before I left I got to hear her screaming. I laughed my ass off all the way here." He said and fell to the ground as his face met Buffy's fist.
"That fiend almost killed her! It bit her, and it was poisonous! If you ever come near her again, I will kill you. Got it!"
"Geez it was a joke! But yeah, whatever." Gippal rose from the ground rubbing his brushing jawbone. Turning to Tara he looked at her, and grinned. "You sure you wanna dig? 'Cause we're talking about the desert, ladies. And it's no picnic."
"Okay, you're hired. Welcome."
"Huh?" Tara asked confused thinking there had to be more to it.
"You. Are. Hired. Still don't know why you want to play in the sand. Either way just show this letter to a woman named Nhadala. You'll find her in the Bikanel Desert." He said handing her a letter before walking off.
"Bastard." Buffy grumbled as they headed back to the ship.
After telling Dawn that Gippal was at the temple she tried to leave holding one of Willow's swords, and yelling about owing him. Willow took the sword, as Tara grabbed her from behind and Buffy held her shoulders. Willow explained what had happened and laughed as Buffy was on the receiving end of a bone-crushing hug. In a better mood Dawn started the ship and head to the Bikanel Desert.
"Leave the trailblazing to me!" Buffy shouted and took the lead. She led them over three sand dunes and stopped to look around. "I don't think that sand dune used to be there..." She shrugged her shoulders and moved on. After fifteen minutes and swearing that her leather clothes were shrinking Willow slowed down.
"Buffy, you do know the way, right?" Willow asked wiping the sweat from her face.
Tara stopped to catch her breath "Uh... Are we lost?"
"I know where I'm going... I think." Buffy whispered the last part before she took off again. Running to the top of a sand dune Buffy was blown back as something rose up in front of her.
"Sandworm!" she shouted and rolled back as the worm came down hitting the sand where she was. The light brown worm looked to be forty foot long, with a ten foot round mouth. Buffy jumped back as the worm shook making slime fly out of its mouth.
Willow back-flipped as a glob of slime landed near her feet, and began melting the sand turning it to glass. Remembering what Anya had taught her, she cast a Bio spell to poison the worm, then cast a Blizzaga spell freezing it. Buffy threw a Winter Storm mix, causing a shell to appear around the fiend and strong winds to howl. A blizzard circled around the fiend freezing it solid, the shell disappeared and Tara fired a Flare infused bullet into the fiend, the spell exploded shattering the fiend.
Thirty minutes passed by, as they ran forward never turning in another direction. Willow fell to her knees beside Tara, as Buffy fell face down in the sand.
A small gray foot long machina flew overhead. "Greenhorns eh nakeuhc B-5!" (Greenhorns in region B-5) The machina reported as it flew toward the girls. A few minutes later two Al Bhed men arrived on a hover and approached.
"Muugc mega drao yna lusehk du." (Looks like they are coming to.) The first one said picking Willow up
"Paddan ku damm dra vuanfusya." (Better go tell the forewoman.) The second said lying Tara down on the craft, as the other laid Buffy down. The Al Bhed made their way back to the camp, and talked to the forewoman.
Tara woke up under a tent and stood to look around, she saw Willow and Buffy talking to another woman and walked over. As she approached Buffy looked upset.
"They're saying there's a big sandstorm coming in. I'm thinking it's too big for the airship to handle."
"I guess we won't leaving the way we came." Willow sighed and sat down, as an Al Bhed pilot walked over to them.
"You the wannabe diggers?"
"Yes." Tara nodded.
"You're gonna need Nhadala's permission first." He said as a hover passed by. "And that would be her."
"E ryda cdunsc!" (I have storms!) Nhadala said as the girls approached her.
"Nhadala?" Tara asked.
"Make it fast, I'm busy. I've got lots to excavate and no one to do it."
"Tara, show her Gippal's letter." Buffy said motioning toward Tara's belt pack.
"Ah, so you're the new diggers!"
"Yep, that's us." Willow grinned.
"Nice to meet you." Tara handed her the letter.
"It must be bad when the High Summoner's hard up, too. Don't be expecting any special treatment, okay?"
"Okay, you girls will be digging in the Western Expanse."
"Aw, but that's on the other side of the desert." Buffy groaned.
"Don't worry, you'll be going out on a hover. I need you to find this part, if you can." She said showing the girls a 'Y' shaped machina. "Just talk to the pilot when you're ready."
"Thanks!" Buffy grabbed Tara and Willow dragging them toward the pilot.
"Well, now that you're good to go, I'll be taking you to the Western Expanse. But before we head out... Let me introduce you to your partner. Got a bit of a mouth on him, so please be patient." Picket!" The pilot said as a gray foot long machina flew over to them.
"Hey, sweetcakes, nice to meet you!" Picket said making Tara giggle and Willow and Buffy to roll their eyes.
The pilot took them out, and as they searched and dug around Picket reported that the sandstorm had blown over. Willow grinned when she dug up three hundred gil, Buffy shouted happily when she found a Defender Coin, and Tara found the part the needed, and ran back to the hover.
"You ready, sugar?" Picked asked making Willow growl at him.
"Yeah, let's go!" Buffy laughed stepping on the hover beside Tara.
"Willow, sweetie, he's a machina... You don't have to get jealous." Tara leaned over and kissed her as the hover moved over the sand. Reaching the camp Nhadala met them, and smiled when she saw the part she needed.
"Thank you, girls. This is exactly what I was wanting. Here's your pay." She said handing the girls a hundred gil.
"Well, since the storm died down Dawn should be waiting on us."
"Thanks, Buffy. Come back anytime, okay?"
"Sure." Willow nodded and watched the airship sit down just outside the camp.
When the girls boarded the airship Mizu met them at the door. "Hey, we're getting sphere waves from the Moonflow." She said as they walked up to the bridge.
"Really? Then let's go." Willow said sitting down and leaning against the wall.
"Dawn! Fire this baby up, and let's get going!" Buffy shouted making the young girl jump.
"Yeah, yeah! I heard Willow first!" Dawn said and accelerated the airship making Buffy slide back, and land beside Tara and Willow.
"I swear I'll have mother to ground you!" Buffy said glaring at Dawn who was laughing.