Jenny explained that the machina on the highroad just went out of control, and began attacking anyone that passed by them. Along with the fiends the highroad was now a very dangerous place to be near, let alone walk along. She asked for their help and promised a reward when they had agreed. Dawn sat the airship down as Jenny bade them good luck, and cut the link.
When the girls stepped out of the ship the first thing they saw was three machina guards attacking a man. While running Willow cast a Thundaga spell as Buffy threw a Rolling Thunder mix. One of the machina fell apart leaving an opening for the man to escape.
Tara waited until the man was out of the way before firing a thunder infused round into the second machina guard. Faith had begun to attack the third guard and dodge its' sharpened shield. Another attack and a Thundaga spell took it down, as Tara and Buffy took out the last one.
"I hope this doesn't have anything to do with the temples!" Tara said as they ran toward two more machina.
"Come on! Let's mangle those machina, and get the reward Jenny promised!" Buffy shouted dodging the machina's gunfire.
A stray round hit Faith's shoulder as she cut the machina's gun off its shoulder. Willow flipped forward and over one of the machina, bringing her sword around cutting the head off.
Tara fired three rounds into the second one, and dodged as it fired at her. Sneaking up behind it, Buffy thrust both knives into its' back and twisted. The machina fell to the ground with the wires sticking out of its' control panel.
Willow cast a Blizzaga spell on two approaching Bombs and watched them shatter as Tara shot the frozen fiends. Tara quickly healed Faith and jumped back as a Water Flan rose out of the ground under her feet. Giving the fiend no time to completely form, Willow cast a Thunder spell and watched it melt back into the ground.
Buffy shouted as she was thrown through the air, and landed at Faith's feet. A Quadricorn fiend had snuck up and rammed Buffy in the back. Faith brought her spear down on the Dual Horn's cousin, and dodged the poisonous fangs snapping at her. Tara fired one round into its' head, the fiend exploded into souls and disappeared.
Tara suddenly fell forward blood running down her back, as more gunfire tore up the ground at the girls' feet. Willow grabbed Tara and pulled her behind the ruins to her right and looked at her back. Three round holes were pouring blood, and Tara wasn't breathing. Willow went berserk as her eyes turned red and she glowed orange, she stood and ran toward four machina.
Faith was franticly searching through her pouch and found what she wanted, as Buffy quickly turned Tara over. Willow was a force to be reckoned with, her sword was a blur, just as she herself was a blur. Lightning fell from the sky hitting the machina in regular bursts. Everyone of the machina had fallen apart, as Willow took on three Dual Horns.
She knew they'd smelled Tara's blood and had come running, but they were in for a surprise she thought. Flipping into the air, a Flare spell hit one knocking it back, a Firaga spell hit the second burning some hair and blue flesh off. The third was being torn in half as a Demi and Ultima spell hit it at the same time, turning toward the two left she cast another Ultima spell.
Both Dual Horns were trapped inside of a white force field as a black mist surrounded them. Anyone within a fifty-foot radius had to close their eyes, as the Ultima spell exploded eight times in a bright white light. With no more fiends or machina around Willow fell to her hands and knees breathing hard, as she began to silently cry.
What she didn't see was Tara standing between Buffy and Faith watching her. After Willow had went berserk, Faith had poured a Phoenix Down in her mouth to revive her. After she'd started breathing again, Buffy poured a Hi-Potion in her mouth to heal the wounds.
With her wounds healed she'd opened her eyes and sat up, only to see Willow in Berserk, killing the machina. Knowing anyone in Berserk was very dangerous, even to a lover, Tara stayed back and watched. She flinched when she saw one of the machina slice Willow's leg open, before it fell into a pile of parts.
When the Ultima spells exploded she covered her eyes and prayed that Willow wasn't too close to the spells. When the light died down she saw Willow fall to her knees and begin to cry. Quietly walking over to her after the orange glow had disappeared from her body, she touched her shoulder. She smiled when Willow looked up, and latched on to her kissing her franticly.
"Tara! You're okay!" Willow shouted happily between kisses.
"I am now... but there for a few seconds..." Tara trailed off as Willow captured her lips.
Tara pulled back and sighed as she rested her forehead to Willow's. "Thank Faith. She's the one with the Phoenix Down." she whispered and pulled Willow up with her.
"No need to thank me, if I hadn't have had it, I would have ran to the shop and got one!"
Buffy giggled. "You gotta remember, Will, you have an hour to use a Phoenix Down! You really didn't have to scare us by going Berserk!"
Willow sighed shaking her head. "Yeah, I forgot."
"Please, don't forget that Berserk can kill you... Okay?" Faith said grinning as Tara lightly hit the back of Willow's head.
"Yeah! Don't forget that!"
"Sorry." Willow said rubbing her head. "You never did explain how that could happen. I mean I felt stronger than ever, and I did more damage."
"That's just it," Faith said and leaned against the ruins. "Tell me, you didn't feel any pain from the hits you received did you?"
"And that's what can kill you, you don't feel pain, so you don't know you've been hurt... and you fight till you bleed to death, or until you're too weak and get killed by a fiend."
Willow looked at Faith still confused. "But, wouldn't you feel the blood running down your body?"
"Did you feel your blood?" Faith asked pointing to the deep gash in her leg.
Looking down Willow's eyes widened as she lightly touched the wound. "Hell! I still don't feel a thing!" she said raising blood-covered hand up.
Faith nodded as Tara cast a healing spell. "You still have some of the Berserk energy in your body. With that you wouldn't have felt it, until the left over energy disappeared... and by then, most times it's too late."
Hearing a frantic scream the girls took off; topping the small hill they saw an eight-foot tall machina chasing a woman. Killing any other fiend that got in their way, they headed toward the second stretch of the highroad. Running past the shop they saw the machina had trapped the woman between a thirty-foot fall, and the machina itself.
Faith glowed dark purple as lightning surrounded her body, holding her hands toward the machina lightning shot from them. The machina stumbled and turned to meet another blast of lightning head on. Willow began doublecasting Thundaga spells; Buffy threw a Rolling Thunder mix, and a Thunderblast mix, as Tara fired thunder infused rounds.
Being taken by surprise the machina only had time to get off one burst of gunfire before it fell into the ravine and broke apart. Faith had taken another bullet in her shoulder, Willow fell to the ground holding her side just under her ribs, as blood poured out of the bullet wound on her leg. Buffy had taken one below her knee, one in her stomach, and one had grazed the side of her head. Tara begin the only one who wasn't hurt concentrated a healing spell on everyone.
The bullets disappeared as the wounds healed. After the healing stopped there were no scars left in place, only a slight soreness. The woman ran over and thanked the girls before she left the highroad heading toward Mushroom Rock Road.
Jenny smiled at the girls as she approached. "Thank you, here's the reward as promised," she said and handed Tara ten thousand gil.
"What the hell made the machina go all haywire?" Buffy asked rubbing the side of her head.
"We don't know." Jenny sighed. "We found some of the shop property smashed up. Then a hover crashed. Just when we were about to investigate that, the machina went out of control."
"If you find anything out, be sure to call us, okay?" Tara hugged the older woman.
"You'll be the first I call. Oh! The Sphere Break tournament will be starting soon, are you still participating?"
"You bet!" Buffy shouted as Tara nodded.
"Great! I will see you then." Jenny said as she headed back toward the shop.
Buffy watched her go before looking around the highroad with a frown. Seeing this Faith gently placed her hand on Buffy's shoulder. Turning she smiled up at Faith and wrapped her arms around her waist.
"The temples, Vegnagun, the fiends, the Farplane, the machina, the dreams... what the hell is going on?"
"I don't know, but I do intent to find out." Tara said watching Willow closely. "Will, sweetie, what's wrong?"
Willow was looking toward the Mushroom Rock Road entrance with a confused look on her face. What she saw was starting to freak her out.
Floating a few feet in front of her was a dark blond young woman, who looked just like Tara. Her sad blue eyes met Willow's scared green eyes as she mouthed ‘Help me.' and disappeared.
Hearing Tara speak to her, she turned and glanced around never making eye contact with any of the others. Shaking her head she smiled and walked off, leaving the others confused. In deep thought and not paying attention, Willow walked into the entrance of Mushroom Rock Road. Tara was right behind her, and keeping a close eye on her as she worried. Faith and Buffy were also watching Willow with worried looks.
With her head lowered she didn't see Yaibal and ran into him, she helped the young man up and apologized. Nodding he turned and smiled at Tara as she took Willow's hand in hers.
"Hello, Lady Tara. Can I help you?"
"Are there more fiends?"
"Yes, My Lady, but don't worry. Everything is under control. The Al Bhed from Djose helped fight them off."
"Gippal was here?" Buffy asked in a deadly voice.
"Yes. He and his group brought us some fighter machina. And he said not to depend on you so much, Lady Tara."
"He said, we need to rely on our own strength to defend Spira." Yaibal said and saluted when Drusilla approached.
"My Lady, may I speak with you?"
"Sure." Tara nodded and followed Drusilla several feet away from Yaibal.
"As you probably know, our leader Meyvn Nooj has disappeared. Do you have any information as to his whereabouts?" Drusilla asked worriedly
Tara shook her head, "I'm sorry, but we don't know any more than you do."
"If we see him, we'll tell him to return here."
"Thank you, My Lady." Drusilla saluted and left.
Faith watched the Commander go before turning to the others; Buffy and Tara were looking at a zoned out Willow. Cocking her head Faith waved her hand in front on Willow's face, and got no reaction, not even a blink. Watching her closely she saw her lips barely move and leaned down to listen.
After running into Yaibal, Willow had tried to listen to Drusilla, but couldn't her dream flashed before her eyes. Trying to push it away only made it stronger, and soon she was re-living the dream as her eyes glazed over. She felt anger rising in her body as words flashed in front of her eyes, and her lips begin to move as she read the words.
"I will save her. I will kill them all. She is mine." She whispered over and over.
Faith's head shot up as her eyes widened, the fast movement jerked Willow out of her trance as she looked around. Seeing the looks she was getting from the others she frowned.
"We should be asking you that." Buffy said raising her left eyebrow.
"Nothing. I'm fine." Willow said and avoided eye contact with the girls and headed toward the landing airship.
Tara watched her go and sadly hung her head. "Is it something I've done?"
"You've done nothing. But we need to watch her, something's wrong." Faith said and led the way to the ship.