When the girls boarded the airship they could hear the alarm going off, and the red lights flashing. They raced to the bridge where they found Shinra speedily working on his computer pulling up file after file. Mizu was reading the reports she'd printed out, and Dawn was pacing back and forth in front of her seat.
"What's wrong?" Buffy asked worriedly
"Trouble," Mizu said turning with reports in hand, "and I mean big time! Fiends are pouring out of the temples!"
"What?" Both Willow and Tara asked at the same time disbelievingly
"Which ones?" Buffy asked with wide eyes.
Dawn stopped her pacing and glanced at the girls. "All of them! It's a freakin' state of emergency!" Dawn threw her hands in the air. "What do you wanna do? You wanna help?"
"Not exactly sphere hunter work." Shinra said standing up in his seat.
"That's true." Mizu said laying the reports down. "But if the people saw Tara out there, it might calm them down."
Willow shook her head, "Yeah, and they'll expect her to do the dirty work."
"But I think we should help." Tara softly spoke
"I got an idea. We can be 'Your Friendly Neighborhood Gullwings'!" Buffy said excitedly
"What, you mean charging for killing the fiends?" Mizu asked getting a nod from Buffy.
"E mega ed!" (I like it!) Dawn smiled
"Tara, what do you think?" Willow asked taking Tara's hand.
"Why not? If it means we can help out the people in trouble, then sure."
"Okay, then the sphere hunting's on hold!" Buffy said grabbing more supplies for her mixes.
"Where to?" Mizu asked sitting in her chair, "Hold up! What the hell?"
"What?" Dawn asked starting the ship up.
"Meyvn Nooj and Praetor Baralai... are missing. They've disappeared!"
"That's weird..." Tara said and read the report over Mizu's shoulder.
"There's a report asking for help from the Calm Lands gorge."
"That's where we'll start, Dawn please take us to the Calm Lands." Tara said and turned to Willow, "The stolen Fayth, you think?"
"Yeah." Willow nodded.
Landing the ship near the gorge had been a problem people were running out of the cavern in groups, and blocking the airship from landing. The girls watched out the side window as men, women, and children were being carried out in blood stained clothing.
Dawn sighed when the people finally moved and let her land the ship. An older man came running over to meet them as they exited the ship.
"Fiends! They're coming from deep within the cave!"
"There are still people trapped inside! And there's nothing we can do to help them!" A younger man said running over with an older woman behind him.
"Will you please rescue the people left behind?" The old woman asked glancing from Buffy, to Willow, and finally letting her eyes set on Tara.
Glancing around at the wounded people Tara sighed and nodded. "All right, we'll help."
The old woman smiled gratefully and bowed, "You are very kind."
"Go on, I'll talk about our price." Mizu said and watched the girls run inside the cave.
Once inside the cave the girls followed the same path they'd took two years before, but turned right instead of left. In the very back of the right hallway they found two wounded men, four children, and three women. Tara cast a healing spell on the men's wounds before the girls led the people out of the cave, killing any and all fiends that got in the way.
"It's their fault." Willow said turning around ready to lead the way back to the chamber.
"What is?" Buffy asked watching Tara draw her pistols, and shoot a canine fiend.
"For turning a place like this into a tourist attraction."
"I see your point." Buffy said dodging a Bomb as Willow cast a Blizzaga spell freezing it.
Turning around Tara fired one round shattering it, "Why can't they just leave things alone?" Tara asked then fired two more rounds into a Yellow Element, as willow cast a Watera spell.
Reaching the Fayth's chamber Tara sighed and stepped inside with Willow and Buffy close to her. The Death Dragon Fayth was floating over a deep black hole in the ground. He looked each girl over before pulling a sword, and swiping at Tara. Willow fast as lightning blocked the attack that would have killed Tara, and punched the solid body of the Fayth.
Infusing both pistols with Holy magic Tara fired a round into the Fayth's chest as he shoved Willow away. The spell exploded knocking the Fayth back against the wall, and to the floor.
As he rose, the Fayth cast a Bio spell poisoning Tara, and kicked dirt in her face to blind her. Stumbling back Tara fell to the ground as Buffy stepped in front of her, and threw a Soul Stealer mix, a giant swirling red and green vortex opened up behind him and a giant hand reached out.
The Fayth screamed as the hand grabbed him, and pulled him into the magic vortex and back into the Farplane. Willow had helped Tara to drink an Antidote to kill the poison in her body, and helped her to sit up. Buffy tossed a vile of Eye Drops to Willow before looking into the hole. Tara closed her eyes against the healing pain of the drops, as Willow helped her to stand.
"Why is this happening?" Tara quietly asked as she opened her eyes
"Don't know... but we'll stop it."
"Hello!" Buffy shouted down the hole and heard her voice echo and re-echo.
"Careful. Someone might answer back." Willow grinned when she saw the spooked look on Buffy's face.
Seeing nothing but pyreflies floating up from the hole, and finding nothing to help the girls left the chamber. With the Fayth gone there were no more fiends in the cave to fight as they proceeded outside. The older man and woman ran over to meet them, and bowed.
"We can't thank you enough for your help." The woman said as she rose
"I promise we won't be doing business here anymore." The man lowered his head. "Shouldn't have in the first place... I'm sorry."
"Guys! Hurry back! Macalania Shop needs our help!" Mizu said over the receiver as the airship roared to life.
Dawn gave the girls enough time to get on the ship, but took off with the cargo door still open. The girls hung on to a rope as Dawn circled around the woods and landed near the frozen lake. They could see several fiends attacking the shop, and the Al Bhed.
"There's no temple here! Not any more!" Tara said surprised as two Ice Flans slithered toward them.
"The fact that it's underwater must not matter." Willow said cast two Fira spells and dodging a giant black and gray bird.
"Worry about it later! We gotta help them!" Buffy shouted dodging a canine fiend, and watching as one of the Al Bhed men got his throat ripped out.
Tara dodged the bird and drew her pistols firing on the fiend, three rounds buried in its chest and a fourth hit its large head. Willow back flipped as the fiend fell to the ground landing on top of a canine fiend killing it. Both fiends exploded into souls and disappeared, as Buffy killed four more Ice Flans with a Firestorm mix.
Willow screamed and fell into the snow as a Chimera cast a Thunder spell on her, and rolled to the side as its massive paw tried to crush her head. The fiend was thrown back when Tara fired seven Holy infused rounds into its chest, and Buffy threw a Waterfall mix hitting its head. Rising from the ground Willow looked around.
"Think that's all of 'em?"
"I hope so." Buffy said as they headed toward the shop.
Reaching the door Buffy shook her head when she saw the Al Bhed lying in the blood soaked snow. Willow slowly opened the door, she saw another man sitting against the wall with blood surrounding his body. He looked up and saw the girls entering and tried to raise his hand.
"Fryd fyc ed? Dryd rika cryba, taab fedreh dra myga. E fiend... un machina?" (What is it? That huge shape, deep within the lake. A fiend... or machina?)
"Don't talk. Save your strength." Buffy said to the badly wounded man
"Dyga ed. Vuiht ed rayn... myga." (Take it. Found it near... lake.) The man handed Buffy a sphere before dying.
O'aka walked in and looked around the destroyed shop, "I'll... keep their bodies safe till the other Al Bhed can pick them up."
Buffy only nodded as she passed by with her head down.
"Thanks." Willow said watching Tara follow Buffy back to the airship, before helping move the bodies to a safe area.
When she entered the bridge a little later she found it very quiet, and decided to let it stay that way. She sat down on the floor and laid her head on Tara's shoulder, as the others silently said goodbye to the Al Bhed men.
An hour later, and not being able to take the silence any longer Willow stood and began to pace the bridge. She could feel the eyes of everyone in the room watching her, and stopped.
"I think it's time to get Faith... with fiends coming out of the temples, and whatever the hell else is going on we're going to need her."
"I agree, with Faith with us, we'll be stronger." Tara said as a message popped up on Mizu's control panel.
Reading it over she sighed. "Nhadala wants to see us. She says another group of diggers were attacked and killed."
"Let's get Faith, and then go to Bikanel Desert, okay?" Willow asked pointedly looking from Buffy to Dawn.
"Yeah, okay." Buffy said as Dawn raised the ship into the air and headed for Gagazet.