Summary: Willow’s concentration slips during her spell to bring back Buffy, she misses out a couple of words, and a very different resurrected Slayer arrives in Buffy’s place; Nonoma’e’e, Thunder Woman, a Southern Cheyenne killed by the First Colorado Cavalry at the Sand Creek massacre in 1864. Integrating with the Scoobies, and adjusting to this strange new century, isn’t easy for her – or for them.
Chapter 1 is HERE, and each chapter has a link to the next. Rating of the story overall is R for violence. This chapter is fairly tame. 3,550 words. When the last chapter ended ‘Buffy’ had just been wounded by a demon and Nonoma’e’e had seen what lay under her skin…
Came the Thunder
Nonoma’e’e reached out slowly and touched the exposed metal. “Ma’aataeve’ohtanehe’e,” she said. “Your head... iron.”
“Aluminum,” Buffy said. “Warren wanted to keep my center of gravity as low as possible, for balance, and only my leg bones are steel tubing. The rest are mainly aluminum. Titanium would have been better but aluminum is what he could get.”
Nonoma’e’e did not understand all the words but she thought that she understood the meaning as a whole. “Your bones, all like your head?”
Buffy gave her a bright smile. “That’s right.”
Nonoma’e’e touched the gleaming metal once more. “Ma’aataeve’ohtanehe’e, náhevése’enôtse,” she chanted. “Iron head woman, my best friend, ma’aataeve’ohtanehe’e, náhevése’enôtse.” She began to laugh. Her head felt strange. She was dizzy. She stumbled and went down on her knees, still laughing, and the pitch of her laughter rose and rose until it cracked and became shrieks and sobs and gasps, and then she was hitting the earth with her fists and demanding that it open and let her return to her sleep and her vanished people, and then she was lying on the ground with her cheek against the grass and crying, and then she was lifted into the air and carried away.
She was lying on a soft surface. She could hear voices.
“Her pulse is too fast,” one said. It was the good-hearted Vé’ho’á’e with sleepy eyes and hair like honey. Tara. “She’s in a cold sweat and her lips have gone pale. I think she’s in shock. What happened, Buffy?”
“Do you have to call the Bot Buffy?” another voice complained. Willow the red fox.
“Shush, hon,” Tara requested. “Just let her answer, ‘kay? What happened?”
“We fought a demon,” Buffy reported. “I think that it was the one that stole the money. We killed it but it scratched me. Nonoma’e’e saw the damage and she became upset. She laughed and then she fell down and she cried. Her breathing became abnormal. Giles says that breathing is very important. I carried her home. I want you to fix her. She is my best friend.”
“Shock, like I thought,” Tara said. Nonoma’e’e felt gentle hands unfastening her belt and her buttons. “Loosen the clothing, especially around the neck,” Tara continued under her breath. “What else? Keep her warm…”
“Hey, I thought I was your best friend,” said Willow the red fox.
“My programming says that you are my best friend,” Buffy replied, “but you have never said that I am your best friend. Your best friend is Xander. Nonoma’e’e told me that I am her best friend. I should be her best friend back. Náhevése’enôtse.”
Willow made a snorting noise. “Fine. So, shock, huh? Hot sweet drinks?”
“No, hon, that wouldn’t be a good idea,” Tara said. “We have to keep her lying down and keep her warm. Uh, she might become aggressive and that really wouldn’t be good.”
“Eep! No, a Slayer getting aggressive, totally not of the good,” Willow agreed. “Uh, maybe you ought to take her gun away.”
Nonoma’e’e put her hand over the butt of the gun. It was hers and no-one was going to take it from her.
“There’s no point in taking her gun,” Tara said. “She’s a Slayer, remember, and she wouldn’t need a gun to hurt us. Trying to take it might upset her and I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Yeah, I get that, she’s kinda hugging it like a teddy bear,” Willow said.
“We should keep her warm,” Tara said. “Buffy, could you get some blankets? Uh, that’s two blankets.”
“I will get two blankets for my best friend Nonoma’e’e,” Buffy agreed.
Nonoma’e’e opened her eyes and saw Tara bending over her. Buffy was going up the stairs and Willow was behind Tara. There was worry, perhaps fear, showing on the face of the red fox woman. Tara’s expression held nothing but kindness and concern.
“Náta’pose,” Nonoma’e’e said. “Cold.”
“It’s okay, hon, we’re getting some blankets,” Tara said. She turned her head away and spoke to Willow. “She really should go to the hospital. Shock can be dangerous.”
“You mean apart from to us?”
“I mean Thunder is real sick here,” Tara said, her voice acquiring an edge that Nonoma’e’e had not heard in it before. “People can die of shock, Willow.”
“Yeah, but not Slayers, sweetie,” Willow said. “It’s not like she’s injured. Uh, the hospital maybe isn’t such a good idea. She doesn’t have any insurance or, hey, identification. They’d probably think she’s an illegal alien and ship her off to Mexico.”
“Well, Giles can just get the Council to fix her up some ID,” Tara said. She pursed her lips. “It’s no good if the Slayer can’t go to the hospital. It’s a pretty high risk occupation, after all.”
“I have brought blankets,” said Buffy, appearing behind Tara.
“Thanks,” Tara said, taking the blankets and laying them over Nonoma’e’e. She took hold of Nonoma’e’e by the wrist. “Hmm. I think her pulse has slowed down a little but it’s still too fast. Uh, I might know a healing chant that might help her.” She glanced back at Willow. “You could call Giles, hon, I think he’d want to know about this.”
Nonoma’e’e stared at Tara’s face. “Your head,” she said, concentrating hard on her words, “is it iron like Buffy?” She raised herself up on one elbow.
Tara shook her head. “No, I’m just an ordinary person, like you,” she said, “well, not a Slayer, and not a Ts-tsi – a Cheyenne, but otherwise just like you. Buffy’s the only one of her kind.”
“Warren made me to be Buffy for Spike,” Buffy put in. “The other me was really pretty, but she died. Glory knocked off my head but Willow fixed me. Willow could not fix the other Buffy.”
Nonoma’e’e had heard things like this said before but had not understood. Perhaps now she did. Buffy’s bones were made of iron. Someone had made her. But how could she walk, and talk, and be a friend? Nonoma’e’e felt dizzy again and lay back down.
“I’ll need some herbs and a crystal,” Tara said. “I’ll just be a moment.”
“I will watch over Nonoma’e’e,” Buffy said, “because she is my best friend.” She put her hand on Nonoma’e’e’s shoulder.
Nonoma’e’e took hold of Buffy’s hand. “Hahóo, nésé’e,” she said, and snuggled into the blankets.
Willow was looking at Buffy and there was a frown on the red fox woman’s face. “She still likes you even now she knows you’re a robot?”
“Yes,” said Buffy. “She said ‘thank you, best female friend’. She is my best female friend.”
“Whatever,” Willow said. “I’ll go call Giles.”
“How are you feeling now, ah, Thunder?” Giles asked.
“Nánomóhtahe,” Nonoma’e’e replied. “I feel better.”
“Good, good.” Giles removed his eyes of glass and wiped them with a piece of cloth. “You were fast asleep when I came over last night. I had to get the story of what happened from Willow and Tara, and the, ah, Buffy.”
“Willow fixed my head,” Buffy put in. “The aluminum is hidden again.”
“Yes, quite.” Giles replaced the glass pieces in front of his eyes. “Ah, Thunder, do you understand about the Buffy robot now?”
“Not know ‘vo’pot’,” Nonoma’e’e said, stumbling over the pronunciation of the alien sounds in the unfamiliar word. “Nátaéšêhéne’enáotsé’ta. I know Buffy is like ma’aataéméó’o.”
Dawn screwed up her face. “I… understand? And Ma’aatae is iron, so… Iron Horse?” She grinned at Giles. “Hey, I worked it out. She understands now, and Buffybot is like a train.”
“Oooh, yes, I’m like a train,” Buffy agreed, “but I don’t have wheels and I don’t have to stay on the railroad track.”
“I suppose that a train is probably the closest analogy from the Nineteenth Century,” Giles said. His forehead was furrowed with many creases.
“Look at me I’m a train on a track,” Dawn sang. “I’m a train, I’m a train, I’m a chook-a-train yeah! Look at me got a load on my back.” She stopped singing and looked at Giles. “Mom used to sing that to me when I was a kid.”
“It is a nice song,” said Buffy. “I will learn that song. Look at me I’m a train on a track.”
“Perhaps you could learn it at another time,” Giles suggested. “There are things that I would like to discuss with Thunder.”
“Yeah, okay, Giles,” Dawn said, pouting slightly. “Or, hey, we could go up to my room.”
“Or down to the basement,” Buffy suggested, “unless the leaking pipe has made it damp.”
“Oh, yes, remind me about that tomorrow, please,” Giles said. “We must get that fixed. I can claim maintenance costs back from the Council, I believe, as long as the Slayer is residing here. Perhaps Xander could recommend a plumber.”
Nonoma’e’e did not understand what they were talking about and so she waited for them to finish. Buffy and Dawn went up the stairs to Dawn’s room and Nonoma’e’e faced Giles.
“Are you sure that you have recovered from the, ah, shock that you experienced last night?” Giles asked.
“I think yes,” Nonoma’e’e told him. She lowered her head. “I… nahéhpôhetäno… I was scare. Notâxeo’o not be scare. I sorry.”
“Oh, there is absolutely no need to apologize, Thunder. It is only to be expected that you will feel frightened sometimes. This must be all terribly strange for you.”
“This is the dream of Motse’eoeve,” Nonoma’e’e said. “The Vé’hó’e cover the land like háhkotaho, and they have amó’eneo’o with no horse, and étaame’háoohe,” she could not think of the right Vé’hó’e word and she made the shape of a bird’s wings with her hands and gestured in the air, “like bird in the cloud.”
“Yes, quite.” Giles used a finger to move his glass eye-pieces on his nose. “It’s certainly an awful lot for you to take in. There are a number of practical considerations to do with your situation that must be sorted out.” He frowned. “It is unfortunate that Willow and Tara had to go out. It would have been useful had they been here.”
“Buffy here,” Nonoma’e’e pointed out.
“Ah. Yes, well, the Buffybot isn’t equipped to deal with these practicalities,” Giles said. “She is, well, rather like a child in many… Good Lord. Yes. Ah. That would explain a lot. And she did take more notice of my instruction than I had thought. Yes.” He removed the glass eyes and once more wiped the glass with cloth.
His words seemed to have been addressed to himself. Nonoma’e’e waited for him to turn his attention back to her. Before he did so the door opened and Spike entered the house. He held a blanket over his head and trails of smoke rose from it. “Evening, all,” Spike greeted. “Well, more afternoon, really, but that doesn’t have the same vibe.”
“Spike,” Giles said. “I had hoped that we would be spared your presence for a little longer.”
“Got bored hanging around waiting for the sun to go down,” Spike said. “Wanted to check up on Thunder. You okay, pet?”
Nonoma’e’e smiled at him. “I better now,” she told him. “Buffy and Tara look after me.”
“Well, as you are here, you can make yourself useful, Spike,” Giles said. “Did you learn anything about any demon-summoning warlock?”
“Sod all of use,” said Spike. “No bugger knows anything about any wizard up to that sort of thing. My guess is it’s a new player in town. Somebody outside the usual circles.”
“At least the demon itself is dead now,” Giles said.
“Yeah, well, if it is a summoner, he’ll only call up another one,” Spike said.
“Then I will kill next Heávohe too,” Nonoma’e’e declared.
“I suppose that is all that we can do, for now, until we learn more,” said Giles. “Let us return to the matter that I was about to discuss.”
“Yeah, do that,” Spike said. He threw his blanket over the wooden post at the bottom of the stairs and then joined Nonoma’e’e on the couch. He cocked his head to one side. “How come the Bit and the Bot are singing an old Albert Hammond song about trains?”
“I said Buffy is like ma’aataéméó’o, a train,” Nonoma’e’e told him. She pouted. Learning the song with her friends Buffy and Dawn would have been fun.
“If we could continue?” Giles replaced the glass pieces over his eyes. “Willow and Tara pointed something out to me last night. Ah, Thunder, in this time and place it is necessary to have documents, that is, words written on paper by the, ah, chiefs of the white men, to prove who you are and that you have the right to be in this country. Now, I know that in fact you have a greater right to be here than any of us, but without such papers there could be problems if you ever have occasion to interact with the authorities. For instance, if we had needed to take you to hospital, that is, to a place of healing, last night.”
Nonoma’e’e did not fully understand but she did know that words on paper were important to the Vé’hó’e. “You get these papers for me?”
“I should be able to obtain them, yes, with the help of the Council of Watchers,” Giles replied. “We need to put down a place of birth for you and it would be best if it was appropriate to your ethnic background. I gather that there are two groups of the, ah, Cheyenne and now they live in different states. Are you of the Northern or Southern Cheyenne?”
“Heévâhetane,” Nonoma’e’e replied. “Rope People. We live to south.”
“White Antelope’s band, yeah?” Spike asked.
“True,” she confirmed. “Vó’kaa’e Ôhvó’komaestse, White Antelope, our chief.”
Giles looked at Spike over the top of his glass eyepieces. “I had thought that your knowledge of the Indian Wars went no further than ‘you lot had better weapons, you massacred them, end of story’. I take it that you do, in fact, have some relevant knowledge?”
“Not first hand, Rupes, I was only ten when it happened,” Spike said, “but I’ve seen ‘Soldier Blue’ and I read up a bit about it later. Sand Creek. Fucking bastards.” He shook his head. “Won’t say anything more. Don’t want to upset Thunder.”
“Ah, yes, quite. Well, the Southern Cheyenne live in Oklahoma now, and that gives us a basis to work on,” Giles said. “I, ah, would advise against you going there for the time being, Thunder, as there might be questions asked that would be extremely difficult to answer. Perhaps later.”
“Hó’ótóva maeto,” Nonoma’e’e agreed. She would like to go to the land of her own people but everyone she knew had been dead for many years. Spike had told her that no longer did they hunt the buffalo but lived in the manner of the Vé’hó’e, on land that the Vé’hó’e did not want, and she was not sure that she would feel any more at home there than she did here.
“I’ll ask the Council for a copy of the diary of her Watcher,” Giles said, seemingly to himself, and then addressed Nonoma’e’e again. “Even though you are feeling better I think that it might be an idea if you do not patrol tonight. A little additional rest would undoubtedly do you good.”
“He’s right, pet,” Spike said. “Give it a miss. I’ll handle it.”
“Thank you, néstaxe Spike,” Nonoma’e’e said. “I drop,” she paused, unable to think of the right word, and made chopping gestures with a hand, “tôhoo’o when I kill Heávohe. You try find it?”
“You lost your tomahawk? Yeah, sure, I’ll keep an eye out for it,” Spike assured her.
“Thank you,” Nonoma’e’e said again. She stood up. “I go learn song with náhevése’enôtse Buffy and hevásemo Dawn.”
A few days later it was the turn of Nonoma’e’e to carry Buffy home.
A strange Vé’ho’e had come to do things in the room that was Buffy’s under the house. The hollow things that carried water through the house, that were made of bright copper, were not keeping the water inside them as they should. The Vé’ho’e, who was called Tito, was making a great noise as he fixed the ‘pipes’. Nonoma’e’e did not like the noise, and neither did Dawn, and Buffy could not go down into her room. Dawn suggested that they go out to the place that was called the mall, to trade for more clothes, and so that is where the three girls went.
At the mall a strange thing happened. Buffy began to move slowly, and then she stood still, and Nonoma’e’e and Dawn left her behind without realizing. When they missed her and retraced their steps they found that Buffy was standing in one place and not moving at all. She did not answer when they spoke to her.
“Crap,” said Dawn. “Her power must have run down.” She bit her lip. “Something must be wrong. Usually she knows just how much she has left and does something about it. Oh, well, I guess we’d better take her home.”
Nonoma’e’e took hold of Buffy. She felt wrong. Too stiff. She was almost like one of the figures that stood at the front of shops to show what the clothes for sale looked like when worn. That was not how Buffy had felt when Nonoma’e’e had touched her at other times. Nonoma’e’e put the other Slayer over her shoulder, ignoring the curious looks of the Vé’hó’e who thronged the mall, and carried her away. One Vé’ho’e, in clothes that were not unlike those of the Long Knives and that set Nonoma’e’e’s teeth on edge, raised an arm to signal that they were to stop and then he asked questions. Dawn answered, saying things that Nonoma’e’e did not fully understand, but it seemed to satisfy the questioner and they were able to depart.
As Nonoma’e’e carried Buffy home she noticed that Buffy was bending very slowly to fit properly onto her shoulder. There was a strange noise coming from Buffy’s body. A high whine, like that of hóoma the insect that sucks blood, and not a noise that Nonoma’e’e had ever heard come from Buffy before. It seemed to be coming from Buffy’s clothes.
Once they were back at the house Nonoma’e’e carried Buffy up the stairs and into Dawn’s room. Dawn wrinkled her nose. “Her recharging cable is down in the basement,” she said. “I guess we’ll just have to leave her here until Tito the plumber has finished for the day. If something’s wrong, and it’s not just that she needs a charge, we’ll have to get Willow to fix it.”
“I hear a strange sound,” Nonoma’e’e said.
“Hey, yeah, kind of a whine,” Dawn agreed. “Uh, maybe something’s catching in one of her cooling fans or something. She might have overheated.”
Nonoma’e’e put her ear close to Buffy and listened. Yes, the sound came from Buffy’s clothes. The soft and warm garment that Buffy wore on her upper body. Nonoma’e’e stripped it from Buffy, with some difficulty because Buffy’s limbs did not bend as they should have done, and examined the garment.
“I’m not sure that will help,” Dawn said, “although hey, I guess it can’t hurt.”
Nonoma’e’e found something on the garment. It was bright, like polished iron, but in size and shape it was like the little bug môhenêšemo. The whining noise was coming from the iron bug. “Look, Dawn,” she said, holding out the bug on the palm of her hand. “What is this?”
Even as Dawn turned her head to look the bug flared up in a bright flame, as if a grain of gunpowder had caught fire, and was gone. “What was that?” said Dawn.
“I do not know,” Nonoma’e’e replied. “It was on Buffy.”
Buffy stirred. “This is Dawn’s room,” she said. “We were at the mall. How did we get here?”
“I carried you,” Nonoma’e’e said. “You could not move.”
“I was moving but everything else was moving too fast,” Buffy said. “I overclocked myself by one point eight times but it did not help. I could not increase my clock speed any further because my processor temperatures were increasing to the maximum safe level.”
“I thought your power must have run down,” Dawn said.
“No, my power level is high,” Buffy said. “I do not know the cause of the problem. Perhaps if I go on line I will find a solution.”
“There was a small thing of iron on your clothes,” Nonoma’e’e told her. “I took it away, and then it burned up, and then you could move again.”
“Hahóo, nésé’e,” Buffy thanked her.
“It was kinda like a bug,” Dawn said. “Hey, maybe it was a bug, only the other sort, not the… uh, you don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?”
“It was a bad thing,” said Nonoma’e’e, “and it made Buffy… étó’ovénome.”
“Sick not to move,” Dawn translated. “Yeah, I think that’s it.” She chewed on her lower lip for a moment. “I think we should tell Giles about this, guys. If it wasn’t something going wrong with Buff – the Buffybot, and no way could it have been any kind of accident, then it was an attack. Someone is out to get us.”