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|Buffy Season Eight|
|Issue 26-30: Retreat|
|Written by||Jane Espenson|
|Drawn by||Georges Jeanty|
|Published by||Dark Horse Comics|
Predators and Prey
Retreat is the sixth story arc that spreads from the twenty-sixth to the thirtieth issue of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight series of comic books, a continuation from the television series of the same name.
Retreat, Part 1 (Issue #26)"I like the other way we did this better."
Three seagulls fly above a seaside cliff. The middle seagull has a fish in its grasp, and to make things bizarre, the seagull and fish are speaking to one another. They talk about how they need to be sneaky now that people are on the lookout and report sightings of witches and Slayers. They hover over what appears to be an unoccupied island, and as they touch down, the seagull and fish transmogrify into Willow and Buffy. The island is the site of their new Slayer HQ, a medieval castle covered by a magical illusion of dense forestry to throw off any attacks. Inside the control room, Buffy mulls about, wondering if they are truly doing all they can to ward off attacks by allies of Twilight, who now has every demon in Scotland on his side; Willow assures Buffy that their magic is all across the grid, and that all that can be done is being done—to which Buffy questions Willow and how she is with the temptation and control of magic—which Willow just brushes off as being clingy. Buffy reminds her troops that the best thing they can do now is disappear until the anti-Slayer movement is over—this causes Satsu to ask how long it will take for that to happen and wonders what the judgment of history will be.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, Faith and Giles are hiding underground in Hitler's bunker, talking about how hiding underground doesn't feel right. Suddenly, they are attacked by demons and Faith fends them off enough for her and Giles to escape. Cutting to Rome, Andrew and six of his Slayers are wandering through underground catacombs, and one of these Slayers, Posey, stops to read an old Latin inscription carved into the stone walls. The rest of the Slayers and Andrew go down the staircase and find a large circle of bones and skulls from early Roman martyrs. Above, something with red eyes watches them, and Andrew's further investigation uncovers skinless Warren laying in wait. Warren tries to trick Andrew into joining him by apologizing for having him kill Jonathan. All at once, the Slayers begin to yell "Goatmen!" and Andrew turns to see Posey, now dead, being thrown to the ground and a literal goatman standing above her. Warren reveals that his sentiment was all a trick and that the Goatmen were a trap set up by him and Amy. Andrew and his Slayers fight the goatmen with the bones of the martyrs and escape the catacombs. We cut to a boxcar carrying Faith and Giles through the mountains, taking them to Buffy, and in Rome, Andrew and his badly beaten Slayers are riding in truck bed to Buffy as well.
Back in Scotland, Willow wakes up startled, and rushes to Buffy's room. She, along with Kennedy, Xander, and Dawn, alerts Buffy that Giles and Faith, Andrew and five Slayers, and every demon in Scotland are separately on their way to the castle. After Willow uses her magic to allow their friends in, Buffy runs to and hugs Giles, telling him she's happy he's there, and Andrew marvels at how Dawn has shrunk. Buffy asks Xander to review their defenses, dumbfounded, he begins to babble. Willow informs Buffy she has the Wiccans working shields, traps and mystical mirages, though Satsu reveals that the demons are already working their way through the shields. Soon, Buffy and Faith see the army destroy their security cameras and the group is forced to head for the roof, where a group of Wiccan-Slayers are working the defense shields. On the roof, Buffy sees that the army is miles long, with all sorts of medieval tech, catapults and military tanks. Willow alerts the Wiccans to drop the bridge illusion, and the path to the castle disappears. As Xander gloats about triumph, the demons load what appears to be a flaming stone at the castle. As the castle explodes, one of the Wiccan-Slayers dies from a fried brain due to magic overload.
Willow interrogates a demon that Satsu has taken prisoner. As Faith and Giles try to advise Buffy on battle tactics, Buffy notices that in the fray below, the demons are winning and Slayers are dying. Willow returns and informs the group that Twilight is tracking the Slayers through their use of magic. With their last defense shield destroyed, the entire Slayer HQ escapes in the submarine Satsu commandeered in Swell. Buffy and Giles converse, first about Buffy turning Willow into the future Dark Willow she killed by making Willow use strong magicks, and then about trying to figure out how to keep themselves guarded from all their enemies. They realize that because Twilight is able to track them through magic, even if Willow were to stop using magic, the Slayers themselves are mystical, since their power came as the result of Willow's spell and originated from the Shadow Men's spell that created the Slayer. When Faith enters and wonders if Buffy has decided where they're going, Buffy comes up with an idea, but it will mean Willow will have to perform one more big spell before stopping with magic. Cut to a monastery in the yak-filled mountains of Tibet. Oz is sitting and meditating, when he hears a bell chime. He stops and looks out ahead of him—seeing a smoking submarine at the base of the monastery steps.
Retreat, Part 2 (Issue #27)"They drowned."
Amy, using a ritual known as water gazing, reveals to Twilight that Buffy and her allies drowned with the army of demons from the previous issue when the Wicca-Slayers took down the path to the Slayer HQ. Refusing to believe that Buffy would die so easily, an enraged Twilight destroys Amy's gazing bowl. With his other agents, including Warren, General Voll and Riley, Twilight discusses the difficulties that surround finding Buffy now that she has fallen off the radar. Riley assures Twilight that every technological instrument in their arsenal is being used to find Buffy, but it could take weeks to track her simply by focusing on magical usage due to the vast amount of supernatural beings in the world. Suddenly, a tech guy in the background alerts Twilight to something he discovered on the computers, he reveals that when Buffy and Co. escaped, they used magic — lots of magic to do it, and he is picking up a high level of magic in a general area where he believes Buffy may have escaped to...
In Tibet, on the porch of the monastery are Willow, Xander, Dawn, Buffy, Giles, Oz, and a Tibetan woman, who have gathered together to converse over some butter tea while the Slayers and Andrew are being taken care of elsewhere. Buffy and Giles inform Oz of the reason they have come to Tibet: they need to learn how to suppress their magical sides, as it has become a liability to their safety as well as the fact that, as Dawn points out, the magic comes from demons. The Tibetan woman simply says to the group that "nobody likes you," prompting Dawn to ask who she is. Oz introduces her as Bayarmaa or "Bay" for short—and that she is, as he puts it, "the rest of me." Bay tells the gang that with the monastery satellites they are able to see the worldwide dislike of Slayers everywhere. Oz goes on to inform the group that he and Bay have a baby, a revelation that, while shocking to Giles, Dawn, and Xander, seems to sit well with Willow. When a baby husky barks, everyone assumes that that is the child, until one of the monastery women brings a human infant, Kelden, to Bay. Giles and Buffy both press Oz to hurry along and give them the information that they need.
Cut to a few years earlier (set during Buffy Season 4) when Oz first arrives at the monastery after being sent there by a warlock in Romania. He begs for help from the monks, and as the full moon emerges, he wolfs out, and is presumed to attack the monks. The next thing seen is Oz inside the monastery in a cage, being tended to by Bay. He goes on to explain that the monks taught him to meditate, and through charms and herbs. Oz believed he had succeeded in suppressing the wolf, and was ready to return to Sunnydale, but upon doing so, he realized that he was wrong to return. When he returned to Tibet and tried once more to try the techniques of the monks, he learned that none of it worked anymore, so he was tempted to give in to the temptation of the wolf inside.
At Twilight HQ, Amy and Warren are arguing in the background while the tech guy talks to Riley about his discovery; he says that there was a very big spike in the magical grid, and that he knows that Buffy escaped through means of a teleportation spell. The tech guy tells Twilight that the readings tell him that it appears as though something just popped into existence somewhere in central Asia. Riley attempts to play it off as a glitch, but Twilight tells the tech guy to pinpoint the location so they can go look for themselves.
Back in Tibet, Oz continues his story of how he wanted to lose himself in the wolf, until Bay taught him the old methods of Bon (the original Tibetan religion), specifically those which hadn't been mixed with the Buddhist beliefs — then built upon the practices that would be useful to their cause and mixed with their own traditions. They no longer chanted, but looked at the world through new eyes, realizing they were a part of it, just like the rocks, trees, and the water — they had living spirits. Through these teachings and techniques, they learned to not bottle up the wolf, but by passing its essence through them and into nature, to have a life like a river. Soon, word of their teachings got around and werewolves seeking to be 'cured' began showing up in Tibet, specifically an Englishman named Monroe, who had suffered terribly as a result of being a werewolf, but through their teachings had finally found peace. Back in the present, Buffy and Co. are questioning the methods, as they seem too simple and wonder if there is more too it. Oz continues, saying that when moon is full and the wolf is emerging, they let the wolf pass through them, but not overtake them, then release the essence into the earth. After the group politely refuses another helping of butter tea, Bay and Oz take them on a tour of the grounds. Before departing, Oz comes to Willow and questions their status, knowing she wouldn't be happy about the fact that he moved on — Willow says they will talk later.
Walking across the river, Oz tells the group that their 'cure' takes about a year's worth of full moons to accomplish, and he continues his story, telling of how Monroe left Tibet and travelled the world, sending werewolves seeking help to the monastery, but he got tempted by the power of the wolf. Monroe soon began sharing the same ideology that Veruca had—that she was the wolf all the time, and that her human face was a secondary part of her. Dawn pipes up and says that's just how the world sees Slayers now, as demonically powered women and forgetting that they are still humans as well. Meanwhile, Oz tells that most of the werewolves that had gone to Tibet to be cured, soon fell under the same beliefs that Monroe did, and soon formed a pack. Under the light of a full moon one night (when they were at their strongest, as well as knowing Oz and Bay were at their weakest), they attacked the monastery and killed the monks, and when the wolves confronted Bay and Oz, they showed nothing but saliva covered glistening fangs. The story abruptly pauses and Dawn says the story is just getting full of suspense, not seeing a glowing pair of red eyes in the trees behind them.
Meanwhile at Twilight HQ, everyone watches as Amy uses magic to locate the Slayer army. Riley explains to the confused tech guy that she is going off of the general location given to her and using enchanted human bones to zero in on where the greatest concentration of magic is located. The tech guy is confused as to why they themselves are using magic when their mission is to destroy it, but his comment goes unheard as Amy informs Twilight that she now knows where the Slayers are.
Back in Tibet, the sun begins to set as the group overlooks the monastery from atop a cliff side, and Dawn continues to be amazed at how suspenseful the story is. Oz simply points to his throat, and Buffy queries what happened next, to which it is revealed that Bay wolfed out and savagely killed Monroe by tearing his throat out—causing his followers to flee and prompting Oz and Bay to carry knives from then on. Bay says that she has now made Monroe a martyr for his cause. Meanwhile, Oz and Willow are in the back of the group talking, and Willow explains that she is jealous because Oz has everything she wants: a family, a future and a good life and that she apologizes for being jealous. Buffy bluntly states that she, Willow and her Slayers need to learn not to be magical—a comment to which Bay says it was a bad start teleporting a submarine to the monastery if magical suppression is what they truly desire. Giles questions if they can actually help them, and Buffy adds that Slayers, unlike werewolves, are magical all the time, so she ponders if the ways Oz and Bay used will work on the Slayers. Oz says it might; while it would be a good way to fix some things, they have to want it, and if they begin this course and don't complete it, then they will be worse off than had they not tried at all. Suddenly a werewolf attacks from the trees, and Bay draws her dagger and cuts him, causing the werewolf to run away injured. Oz stresses to the group that he is taking a huge risk at the expense of his family and making his home vulnerable to attacks by Twilight, so they need to follow what he tells them.
In Mongolia, atop a cliff, Twilight and his group of followers, including Warren and Riley, look over the expansive landscape as Amy performs more magic, assuring Twilight that they should be in the right place. Twilight realizes that they had been led astray, and that the Slayers are not there. Warren remarks to Amy that now she is as much a screw up as he is. Riley tells Twilight that there was a lot of interference in their reading and that the information they have doesn't have enough data to pinpoint their exact location.
Inside the monastery Oz and the Scoobies stand before Andrew and the rest of the Slayers. Oz explains that they need to, as of that moment, refrain from using their Slayer powers in any and all situations. Bay tells them that they will start their retreat through physical exertion, which will in turn lower their resistance to the mental process; Oz puts one question to the Slayers: "Who wants to help bury a submarine?"
Back in Mongolia, Warren asks Twilight how they will find the Slayers, to which Twilight replies they will simply watch and wait for them to slip up, which they are bound to do at one point or another. Twilight then orders the execution of the tech guy, and says that this battle won't end with Buffy laying down her sword, but by turning it on herself.
Retreat, Part 3 (Issue #28)"I knock. I knock with determination"
Andrew knocks hurriedly on Giles' bedroom door. Giles, visibly tired, warns Andrew that he better have a good reason, like a demon attack, to feel the need to disturb him. Andrew replies that yes there could possibly be a demon attack then goes on to explain to Giles his theory about how there is a spy for Twilight amongst them, remembering his encounter with Warren in the Italian catacombs and reinforces his theory describing Twilight's hold and influence over others. Giles warns Andrew that this accusation better have some real hard evidence to back it up, or all of the finger pointing and accusing could divide there ranks and blow up in his face. After Giles dismisses him, Andrew rummages through his belongings and finds his video camera that was given to him as a gift from Xander. Andrew has now fallen back into narrator mode, complete with the plushy armchair, pipe, and smoking jacket (i.e. "Storyteller.")
The next day, Andrew uses his video camera to keep an eye out for the spy, and to show the viewers life around the compound. He first interviews Bay, and to the camera she explains how through meditation and hard labor, the Slayers and Wiccas can release their bottled up magic into the earth rather than hold it inside where it can be easily tracked. He goes on to film a group of Slayers (including Satsu and Leah) tending garden, churning, and weaving. Bay shows Andrew/camera a group of Slayers returning to the compound with high-tech defenses, which they received from locals who took parts of the mostly buried submarine in trade. Andrew comes upon Willow, who is milking a yak, and is in no mood for Andrew and his film-making antics. Cut to Bay again, she shows the viewers a group of Slayers, overseen by Oz, sparring using defense methods taught to them by Bay and Oz. Through these methods, the Slayers will still be able to defend themselves and fend off dangers, but not to rely so much on their Slayer strength, which, as time goes on, will fade with their inner magic. Andrew closes up on Leah and Rowena who are still adjusting to fighting like normal girls.
Andrew narrates that he questions everybody's happiness toward their new way of life. Cut to Kennedy, who is churning and cursing out the experience at hand. Satsu, who is tending to the soil with a yak-pulled plow, expresses she doesn't like feeling weak. Andrew tries to film Willow again, but he receives the exact same reaction as before. Andrew keeps mental notes of the girls who are unhappy and adds them to his list of suspects and will continue to collect evidence against these girls.
Andrew climbs high into a tree, where below, Faith and Buffy are moving a large boulder to make room for a garden. Buffy and Faith discuss their decision to diminish their power, and then the agree that they did the right thing for the sake of the lives of the girls they were meant to guide. Buffy uses a large plank of wood to yank to boulder out of place, and Buffy and Faith kneel next to the hole where the boulder was. The two senior Slayers have a pleasant moment as Buffy tells Faith how lost she feels now that she doesn't have her power—their shared power anymore, but informs Faith that the only good thing about their situation is that it has shown her she doesn't want to command and stand over others anymore. Andrew sounds pleased at the two former enemies bond but states that he still must discover the spy, and will even turn his attention to even the most seemingly loyal figures amongst the group. (A Siamese cat appears in this sequence, first atop the boulder then perched next to the Slayers on the ground.)
Xander and Dawn, who are alone together in the armory/control room, try to decipher the meaning of the inscription on a Chinese land mine. They exchanged witty remarks about what it might say and converse about how their present circumstances may allow them the chance to finally be safe from threats. Dawn agrees and says that this is a chance for them to finally get what they want, which she says as she looks lovingly into Xander's eyes. Cut to Andrew, who says he will continue to investigate Xander, which he does. When Xander is next seen, he is sitting with Buffy and a yak under a tree in a vast field at sunset. Xander reveals to Buffy that he knows about what Buffy did to Dark Willow in the future, as he overheard Buffy telling Giles while they were on the submarine. Xander tells Buffy that she needs to tell Willow about it, which Buffy confesses that she fears that if Willow is told she will be evil in the future, it will actually cause her to become evil. Suddenly, Buffy gets a splinter in her hand, which she says hurts like she is on fire. Xander attributes the pain of such a small splinter to being a side effect of her fading power, that she can now feel pain more vividly than she ever could before. Buffy questions Xander about her being able to finally feel more. Soon, Xander is tenderly embracing Buffy's hand and realizing that an awkward romantic moment is upon them, they change the subject and Buffy tells Xander that she agrees that she must tell Willow the truth because she loves her too much to keep the truth from her. Xander makes her promise to come tell him how it went as soon as she is finished.
That night, Andrew returns to Giles' room, confronting him about what he had just learned about Willow's future and is angry that it was kept a secret this whole time. Andrew tells Giles that he is going to monitor Willow's actions closely and that if she is an ally of Twilight, he wants it to be dealt with amongst them, to do whatever it takes to keep the girls and their protectors safe. Giles agrees and tells Andrew to watch her. Andrew films himself in front of a big white drawing pad illustrating the history between him and Dark Willow. He draws crude stick figures of Jonathan, Dark Willow and himself and tells the camera that his love for normal Willow is what makes knowing her future fate all the more painful. Andrew regains his composure, picks up his camera and leaves to go find Willow.
In Oz's room, Oz, Kelden and Willow discuss her frustration at how difficult it is for her to watch the others finding ease in the suppression methods and how she can't do it. Willow questions that there must be more to it than simply meditating and labor; Oz explains that the techniques will work for her differently, she needs to not suppress her magic, but allow it to be released from inside her so it is not contained and bottled up. Willow says she is nothing without her magic, she has nothing to offer. She temporarily goes all black eyed at the very thought of Oz being able to pass as normal, have a family and suppress the danger that is always inside him, and how she can't ever do that because of the magic inside, it is too powerful now. Oz reassures her that even without the magic, she is still Willow and that she can have that normal life she has always wanted. They embrace, and Willow tries to make a quick exit, but is stopped when Oz asks her to watch Kelden for a while. This causes Willow to tear up and she agrees. (The mystery cat appears on the bed here as well.)
Buffy comes to Willow's room and witnesses her with Kelden, she appears happy and content with him. Buffy herself seems uneasy about something (Andrew guesses that this may be "the confession.") Buffy tries to get Willow to focus on her, but Willow is easily distracted by Kelden, who renews her faith that she as well as Buffy can have normal lives. Buffy questions this, and Willow explains that for so long she considered herself to be nothing more than a force, not a human or even capable of having babies. Buffy suddenly blurts out that she kills Willow in the future. After hearing the story, Willow reminds Buffy that the Willow she killed wasn't her, and that it won't be her, because she is going to work even harder at living with no magic. Buffy and Willow embrace, their relationship seemingly stronger than ever. Buffy happily leaves Kelden and Willow to go tell Xander they talked. As she leaves, Willow reminds her that having a normal life is not as much of a fantasy as they thought—that it can indeed happen, even for the Slayer.
Buffy goes to a room where she knows Xander is, and Andrew is hot on her tail. She stops frozen at the doorway, her eyes wide and mouth agape with awe. In the room, she sees Xander and Dawn kissing. Andrew moves in for a close-up of Buffy and she coldly dismisses Andrew and tells him to get the camera away from her. Later, Andrew is in a large room, surrounding by the Scoobies, Slayers and Wiccans alike. He publicly reveals his accusation of Willow to the group, which angers Kennedy. He begins to apologize for being wrong, and suddenly the mystery cat magically teleports from atop Leah's lap. She calls it to the group's attention, and Xander quickly realizes it was Amy, who had been spying on them in the form of a cat the whole time to avoid being detected. Buffy tells Dawn and Xander to get the high-tech weapons ready for battle, because without their strength or magic, that is their only line of defense—she warns they are about to get hit by Twilight and his army now that they know where they have been hiding.
Retreat, Part 4 (Issue #29)"Believe it or not...this is the kind of thing we're talking about."
The Scoobies prepare the Slayers and Wiccans for a human battle with Twilight and his army. Xander and Dawn speak with Bay and Oz about the weaponry they will need, while Faith and Giles, Andrew and Satsu, along with Buffy and Willow are all lecturing to the Slayers/Wiccans about the reality of the coming battle: they do not have any magic to protect or heal themselves and people will die, but they need to fight, and fight with everything and anything they can throw at the coming army. Willow comments to her and Buffy's group that while they lack magic, they also lack a "chance in hell" at winning, which leads Buffy to take Willow to see Oz and Bay, who explain to Buffy and Willow that her magic is totally gone, and that since she committed herself to redirecting her magic out of herself and into the earth, she cannot just have it back all at once on a whim. Angrily, Willow pounds at the ground, and demands her magic be returned to her. Oz tries to comfort Willow, who is angry that she agreed to becoming weak, to which Bay responds that she has more right than any to be angry, because an army was brought into her home and disrupted their peaceful home. Willow finally expresses that she is not angry with anybody but herself for going along with Buffy's plan even though she felt it was wrong. She also expresses that she cannot have a normal life and that without her magic she has truly lost everything, Buffy embraces Willow and reassures her that they can survive the battles ahead.
In the armory, Xander, Dawn and Andrew are teaching the girls all about how to use the stockpiled firearms, while Dawn and Xander become giggly and flirty as Xander teaches the girls about wearing MANPADS, using Dawn as a visual aid. Meanwhile in another room, Giles has brought Buffy a set of two Chinese assault rifles, one for himself and the other for Buffy. Buffy responds that Slayers don't need guns, which causes Giles to remind her that she is not the Slayer anymore. The reality of Giles' words hit her and she zones out for a moment, then tells Giles she has an idea and they need to find Andrew. In the control room, Xander and Dawn are showing a group of Slayers (including Kennedy) about how to read radar to keep an eye out for oncoming airplanes. One of the Slayers mistakenly thinks that the "noise" on the screen is actually enemy aircraft, but Xander assures her and the rest of the Slayers that Dawn and himself have never used magic or had any magic, so if anybody can teach them the human way to track and locate enemies, it is them.
Outside the compound, Buffy and Giles speak with Andrew about the special assignment he was given: to create the illusion that the Slayers still have magic. Buffy is assured by Andrew he can do it, and Buffy thinks this plan will fool Twilight's army into believing they have retained they're magic just shielded it well, and just may buy them precious minutes in battle. Andrew notices Buffy seems a bit off, and questions how she feels following what she saw when she walked in on Xander and Dawn kissing. Buffy convinces him that she is fine and an hour later, Andrew has come up with ways to fool Twilight into thinking they have retained their magic: through cauldrons of colored smoke, using a grinding wheel and an axe to create sparks (magical glints), and combining yak hair amongst other foul smelling ingredients to create the smell of potion brewing. From the steps of the compound, the grounds are surrounded by defensive walls made of sandbags, and Slayers are armed and ready for battle. Xander and Dawn note how Buffy (who is standing atop a hill of sandbags shouting orders), even when weak, is still strong. They talk about how the Wiccans and the non-combatants are in the safest part of the compound, and that the girls are as armed as they could be attacked at any moment. Dawn notes that the last time they were ambushed, they ran, with magic and Slayer strength. She and Xander kiss, which Buffy sees out of the corner of her eye and becomes hurt by the sight. Inside the compound, Kennedy notes something on the radar that isn't noise and screams "plane!"
Outside, three Slayers shoot down a plane into the mountains with missiles. Giles notes that he hears a strange noise, which Satsu reveals to be tanks at the edge of a river at the bottom of the hill. At the compound, Dawn and Xander instruct those armed with auto-cannons and mortar grenades to take aim at the tanks. As Faith huddles behind one of the defensive walls, she is scared by a werewolf. The wolf is revealed to be Monroe (who survived his encounter with the werewolf version of Bay), and has brought his pack of werewolves to aid the Slayers in their battle, because they are fighting on the side of those who vow to keep magic. Standing on the temple steps, the group can see the army advancing towards them. Faith leads Giles, Dawn, Xander and a group of Slayers and werewolves into battle as they race down the hill. Faith stops to help an injured Slayer, but orders her troops to keep firing and do not become distracted by the casualties around them. From the wall beside the temple steps, Buffy and Willow watch as the wolves mercilessly attack the troops, and despite their strength, the aid of the wolves is doing next to nothing to slow down the advancing troops. Xander arrives to their side, and Buffy orders him to use his secret weapon. Faith along with three Slayers lead a large object wrapped in cloth down to hill, a troop looks on from a tank, and through his binoculars, the secret weapon is revealed to be one of the torpedoes from the submarine. Andrew, Giles, and a Slayer watch as it speeds down the hillside and towards the tanks and explodes as it collides with the tanks, ecstatic that torpedoes can in fact be effective weapons on land. Inside the infirmary/control room, the non-combatants are tending to injured Slayers and Buffy muses that despite the work of the torpedo, they are still losing. Giles admits that in their present condition, they will not prevail, and Buffy realizes they need the magic and they need it now, but they got rid of it. Willow says that they didn't get rid of it, only redirected it.
Buffy runs off to talk to Oz and Bay. Outside, Buffy sees Oz carrying a wounded Bay from the battlefield. Buffy helps carry Bay inside and asks her where their magic went, to which she answers "into the earth." Buffy tells Bay and Oz that she looked up the words of the chants they used to weaken themselves, and is puzzled that one of the words translates into "invocation" and Buffy demands to know to whom or what they are sending their magic to. Bay tells her of Ekatji, Vajrayogini and Remati: three wrathful goddesses of the earth who are taking on the strength and power of the Slayers and Wiccans in exchange for protection. Buffy concludes that the reason that their magic left them so quickly is because the goddesses sucked it out and became stronger each time they did so. Buffy asks Bay how to cash in on the exchange in order to gain their protection, but Bay loses consciousness. Willow locates the prayer scrolls with the chants on them, and Buffy orders Xander and Dawn to keep up the fighting while she and Willow summon the goddesses. Willow finds it difficult as she cannot read the language the scrolls are written in, so Buffy attempts to physically awaken Bay so she can summon the goddesses. Bay comes to, and tells Buffy that they don't need her to summon the goddesses for them, all she needs to harness the anger within herself to call them.
Outside, the war wages on, and all of a sudden, the ground splits open and from a glowing light emerge clouds of pink, red, and blue smoke, which soon take the physical form of the giant goddesses who hover over the battlefield.
Retreat, Part 5 (Issue #30)"Advance!"
Buffy, now standing on top of an overturned jeep, orders her Slayer troops to advance on Twilight's army. Off to the side, Faith, Willow and another Slayer keep asking each other if they feel their powers coming back, which of course they don't- but Willow has faith that it will, but it will take a few minutes. Giles and Andrew are watching the battle from the steps of the temple, and as they re-arm Slayers, Giles notes how they are lucky the goddesses are on their side instead of Twilight's. Twilight, an army general, Amy and Warren watch the goddesses decimate their ranks from afar. Warren begins to argue with Amy about his working on Andrew, and how he was close to breaking him. Amy responds that the only one who had successfully tempted Andrew to become evil was The First, and that he was "no The First." The general demands that Twilight help evacuate their men from the battlefield. Twilight declines, saying he wants to watch events unfold as they currently are; this angers the general, who tells Twilight that the goddesses would not stop killing until all of their men are dead—to which Twilight responds that not even the destruction of his army will stop the goddesses.
Xander and Dawn explain to a group of Slayers about advancing on Twilight's army; they need to hold the ground they have as well as take control of the ground the goddesses clear, but if they do this too soon, the Slayers will also become targets of the goddesses. Dawn reminds the Slayers that they need to be careful about fighting around the goddesses, because being as giant-sized as they are, they will not watch what goes on around them and could and are able to step on the Slayers. As the group rushes back into battle, Xander and Dawn go to the aid of Buffy, Satsu, and Willow and assist them in overturning the jeep. Dawn questions as to why they are turning over the jeep, and Buffy says she has something that she needs to find out on the battlefield and Willow as well as Satsu join her. From the temple steps, as they re-arm more Slayers, Andrew questions the appearance of the goddesses, and how he assumed they would quickly end the battle, Giles is at a loss for an explanation and tells Andrew he thought the same thing. From the window behind Giles and Andrew, we see the infirmary and a group of injured Slayers are being tended to by the non-fighters. Also, Oz and Kelden stay by Bay's side, who asks if the goddesses had come, and Oz responds that they have indeed come and that Bay did a good thing by helping to summon them. Bay tells Oz that 'they' should not have come there, Oz questions her, but gets no clear answer as to whom she is talking about.
As Satsu speeds the jeep over rough terrain, she almost knocks Willow out of the vehicle, but Buffy catches her and pulls her back in. Buffy redirects Satsu to where she saw what she needed, now identified as a him. Twilight, as well as Amy, watch Buffy advance through the battlefield through a set of binoculars, Amy questions where they are going, while Twilight notes that the goddesses nearly killed them, and Warren questions the whereabouts of his binoculars. Close up, we see that the blue goddess nearly stomped on the jeep, and Buffy tries to remind the goddess that they are the good guys they were summoned to protect. As they speed away, Buffy notes what nearly happened, and sees that the blue goddess, has gotten hold of two of Twilight's soldiers as well as a Slayer. Further through the battlefield, we come across two dead Slayers, soldiers, as well as two dead werewolves (now in human form) as well as one live werewolf. With a Slayer in one hand, the blue goddess takes into her other hand four of Twilight's soldiers. As Buffy and Willow watch, Willow asks Buffy what the blue goddess is doing attacking a Slayer. Buffy quickly realizes that the goddesses are not controlled by one side or another, they are killers and they are not going to be getting their magic back; they didn't summon help, they brought death. Dawn sees the goddesses attacking Slayers as well as soldiers, and Xander, now armed with a bullhorn, orders the girls to fall back and seek refuge inside the temple.
In the infirmary, Oz asks Andrew why the Slayer troops are all gathering in the temple, and Andrew informs Oz that the goddesses are now attacking indiscriminately. Oz cannot believe what he just heard, but Bay confirms it as well, stating it has been too long since they have been summoned out of the earth, and can no longer recognize the hand that feeds them. Kennedy asks Faith if they will be getting their powers back, and Faith simply replies "No." Outside, Buffy finally sees who she has been looking for—Riley. He is carried to the jeep by Buffy and Willow as he is seriously injured, and Satsu wonders why they nearly died to simply take a prisoner, she ignores this and simply orders Satsu to race them back to the temple so that his injuries can be tended to. On the way back to the temple, Willow shouts to the remaining Slayers on the battlefield that they need to run and hide in the woods and that the goddesses are going to kill them as well as the soldiers. As they make the way back to the temple, they see Slayers continue to fight the soldiers and we see three werewolves attack the red goddess. Finally at the temple, Giles assists Buffy in getting Riley to the infirmary. They declare he is still alive but needs his wounds tended to. Buffy calls for Xander, and upon seeing him, she embraces him, relieved that nothing happened to him. Dawn asks Buffy if Riley is a prisoner, to which she reveals that he is a triple agent, working for her against Twilight and can tell her all of Twilight's plans if he ever wakes up.
Outside, Amy notices that Riley has been taken, and Twilight reveals that Riley was a triple agent working against him. Warren asks if Twilight had known all along or just figured it out, because the tone in which he said it made it sound ambiguous. Amy and Warren begin to fight over Warren's constant nagging. As Twilight tries to interject, he is rebuffed by Amy, who reminds Warren that she is keeping him alive when he calls her the least supportive girlfriend ever. Twilight walks away as they continue to bicker. Back in the infirmary, Buffy waits by Riley's side until he finally wakes up. He states that he doesn't know how to win the battle, and that she needs a miracle. This makes Buffy start to as she states that she doesn't have magick or miracles but all she has is....a losing battle, as Twilight finishes the same thought. He tells the general that it is unavoidable fighting them. The general tells him that he is letting their men die, to which Twilight replies that as mortals, they need to die sometime. On the battlefield, the three goddesses unearth the buried submarine and continue to wreak havoc on Slayers and Army soldiers alike, before throwing the submarine and causing a massive explosion. Twilight notes that once the goddesses are done here, they will move on to the next village and the next, and that he will go in after and take survivors—should there be any.
Back at the temple, Buffy stands before the surviving troops and tells them that they have no other choice, they are not getting their powers back, or win the battle and that they cannot run again because they have too many injured to carry and they will not be able to move fast enough to escape. Buffy tells them that they can protect the temple, but should do nothing else to call attention to themselves, then orders her Slayers to go out and collect their injured as well as Twilight's injured soldiers—protect everything that bleeds. As Buffy, now armed with the scythe, leads her troops down to the battlefield, it begins to snow. Riley and Oz watch from the temple window, they note that Buffy realizes that she has no chance at winning or staying alive, but note her bravery, all of their bravery, despite this. A soldier shoots at Buffy, but Satsu knocks Buffy out of the way and shoots at the soldier. She drops the scythe and before she can fall to the ground, she is picked up by the blue goddess. Buffy and the goddess look into each others eyes, and the goddess simply drops Buffy to the ground, knocking her unconscious.
Five hours later, the battlefield is covered in snow, littered with the bodies of dead Slayers and soldiers. Buffy finally comes to and looks down the hill at Twilight's camp to see that that her entire army, including Giles and Willow, have been taken as hostages. She stands holds her head up high and closes her eyes. The next thing she realizes is that she is hovering high in the sky, above Oz's temple, Twilight's camp and the goddesses, who continue to make their way through the mountains.
Behind the Scenes
- This arc features the return of the character Oz, who features as a central character when the Scoobies flee to Tibet. Oz had not been seen since the season 4 episode "New Moon Rising", although he did appear in Willow's dream in "Restless". Other returning characters also included in this arc: Kennedy, Faith, Giles, Andrew, Leah, Rowena, Warren Mears, and Twilight.
- This comic shares many similarities with Oz's previous mini series Oz, which shows his initial travels in Tibet, between "Wild at Heart" and "New Moon Rising".
- This arc also returns to the continuing storyline involving Buffy and Satsu.
- See also: canon
This series has been described as 'canon' by both Whedon and various commentators. As the creator of Buffy, Joss Whedon's association with Buffyverse story is often linked to how canonical the various stories are. Since Whedon is writing this story, it will be seen as a continuation of the official continuity established by Buffy and Angel.
Intended to be set a year and a half after Buffy's seventh season and also after Angel's fifth and Angel: After the Fall. More specifically this arc occurs after Buffy Season eight issues #21-25, Predators and Prey.