“It’s WHAT?!”, Buffy said, trotting up next to Spike and the pair of Dinofelis’.
The wolf turned to look at his girlfriend. If he’d been in his normal body, he would’ve been chewing his lip, and she could tell. “I’m saying that we need to get down from here, and fast. Next earthquake, no matter how small, could set this thing off. And I for one don’t want to be ON this mountain when it blows.”
By that time, Giles and the others had caught up to them. The Mammoth held up his trunk. “Good lord… Let’s get out of here.”
On his back, Dawn moved up to stand atop the Mammoth’s sloping forehead. “Wait a minute, are you guys saying that this thing is about to… erupt?”
*THUNK!* “Ow! Xander!”
“Sorry, honey. I missed that rock.” The Hyena and Rhino came up near them. Xander took one look around and swallowed. “Uh oh. Not good, right?”
“That’s an understatement,” Spike muttered. He turned to face the others, literally barking orders. “Okay, come on, guys! Down the other side of the mountain! QUICKLY!”
The group didn’t even question the former vampire’s orders, almost as one, they began moving quickly around the edge of the ‘bowl’. Or, rather, as quickly as they could. Anya and Giles weren’t really built for running. About the best they could muster was a fast almost trot. And Anya’s nearsightedness was also not conducive to quick movements.
They made it around the bowl, and started down the opposite side. “It’ll be okay!”, Spike yelled back to the others. “We’ll be down before you know it!”
The volcano chose that moment to awaken.
The ground started shaking, throwing everyone off their feet, even Anya and Giles this time due to the slanting ground. And that wasn’t all.
*WHHIIIIIIIIIZZZZZ!!!* *BAM!* Several trees about a hundred yards in front of the disoriented group suddenly burst into flames.
“Lava bombs!”, Spike shouted, scrambling to his feet. “This volcano’s blowin’!”
*BOOOOMMM!!!* Another clump of brush ignited, not ten yards from them.
Giles trumpeted defiantly, as Dawn scrambled back up onto his back.
Spike ran to Buffy’s side and leaned hard against her, helping her to her feet. “Run! RUN!! EVERYONE RUN!!!”
They all took off, half running, half slipping and sliding down the side of the volcano. More lava bombs whizzed overhead and all around them the landscape was exploding into flames as they hit.
Spike looked up to see a lava bomb heading straight for Xander, who was still valiantly trying to guide his fiancé’ over the unstable and now shaking ground. Spike charged and body slammed the Hyena, knocking him clear of the bomb’s path.
*BOOOM!!!* The bomb hit about three feet from Spike, and the heat from it was enough to singe a patch of his fur clean off, and leave a minor burn on the skin beneath. He let out a howl of shock and pain, then snarled and climbed to his feet, shaking his head hard when he saw Buffy headed toward him. “NO! Keep going! We’ve got to keep going!!”
She hesitated, but the moment that she saw him start running again, she took off as well. Lava bombs kept flying overhead, barely missing them several times. And then, suddenly, it was quiet. The panicked animals skidded to a stop, looking at each other and then up at the summit of the volcano. Dawn looked down off Giles’ back. “Is it over?”
At that moment, all hell broke loose.
The ground shook hard, and a fountain of pure lava blew up out of the top of the volcano. Everyone’s eyes grew wide, and Spike and Giles yelled in unison, “GO NOW!!!”
The group took off again, the fountain of lava sending it pouring down after them, and Giles and Anya quickly discovered that they could INDEED move much faster than they had been. Unfortunately for Anya, she was still nearsighted, and the ash darkened sky didn’t help one bit.
She rammed horn first into a large boulder, sending it rolling down ahead of the group, causing a small avalanche, and causing her to stumble to her knees, shaking her head, disoriented by the smack.
“Ayn!”, Xander yelped, skidding to a stop and running back to help her. “Hang on! I’m coming!!”
Spike, too, changed direction, only he ran back to Giles. “Rupert! Rupert! Stop! Let Dawn down!”
“What? Are you nuts?”, Dawn yelped from atop the Mammoth.
“Dawn, you need to ride Anya! Give her directions!”
Dawn’s eyes got wide with understanding, and leaped from the Mammoth onto the wolf’s back. “Okay. Let’s go.”
He turned and ran back to the struggling Rhino and Hyena, quickly explaining his plan and allowing Dawn to leap onto Anya’s back. The foursome barely got underway again before the rushing lava caught up to them, singeing the fur on tails and hind legs, and also working as a great encouragement for them to speed up. Now the sounds of frantic paw beats was punctuated with Dawn’s shouted directions to Anya. “LEFT!! ROCK!!”
The group kept running, and Spike got out ahead of them again, ignoring the pain from his minor burns. He skidded to a stop. A ravine. There was a ravine in the way. And there was no way that the group of them could make it around the far end of the ravine before the lava caught them. They were trapped.
Spike ran along the edge of the ravine, running as fast as he could, skidding to a stop when he found what he needed. Trees. Two big trees. He ran back and got Giles and Anya to follow him. They quickly caught on to what he was doing, and immediately put their huge bodies to work pushing the trees over, bridging the ravine.
The group ran across, Giles and Spike bringing up the rear. Giles’ huge weight made the trees begin to buckle, and they cracked before Spike could make his way completely across. Thankfully, Giles turned and managed to grab him with his trunk before he could fall into the ravine. They began to jog again, now having the reassurance that the lava would have to fill up the ravine before it could come after them again. Not to mention that the volcano had stopped fountaining lava, even though the sky was still darkened by falling ash, like a grey snow. For now, it seemed, the immediate danger had passed.
Spike sat just inside the cave that they had found, in the foot hills of the volcano and it’s mountainous companions, licking at the burn on his side. It was painful, but instinct told him that it wasn’t that bad. Everyone was nursing singed fur, but the burn that he had received from the lava bomb was by far the worst of all the injuries.
He looked up, cocking his head at the approaching Smilodon. “‘Ello, luv. How are you doin’?”
She shrugged. “That’s what I wanted to ask you.” She sat down near him. “You saved our tails today. Repeatedly.”
He chuckled. “No. Rupert and Anya were the heroes. If it wasn’t for them, my bridge idea wouldn’t have worked.”
She nuzzled him gently. “One of the things I love about you: modesty.” She grinned to let him know that she was kidding.
He shook his head. “Yeah. I’m really modest.” Sighed. “We’re gonna have to get moving again in the morning. Quickly. There’s no promise that the volcano’s done erupting. In fact, I’m almost certain that it is going to go off again. When Mt. Saint Helen’s blew, it went off with a force greater than the Hiroshima bomb. This little bugger hasn’t let off half that much energy yet.” He sighed. “I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet.”
She sighed and leaned against him, careful to avoid the burn on his side. “Yeah. I know. Giles told us just about the same thing awhile ago.” Nuzzled her head under his chin. “I want to go home.”
“Me too, luv. Me too.”