It was a decent jog from the new camp to the old school, by Slayer speeds. Far enough the mechs would have trouble tracking them, but close enough that Buffy, Kennedy, and Zahra were able to head out before breakfast and return by noon with the better part of one and a half mech skeletons.
Buffy had promised Weaver half a dozen. And she'd get them – but probably not before their planned four-woman blitz attack on the Skitter structure. There just wasn't time to melt down that much metal in the little electric furnace, or enough spare gas to run the generator that long. They'd need to add cars with siphonable fuel still in their tanks to the list next time a patrol went out for food and other consumables.
The single mech the resistance had downed in front of the school, though? And the leftover pieces from the one they'd been melting down for the initial set of bullets? Those would make a good start.
"Hello the forge," Buffy called as she jogged back into camp, box full of scrap in her arms. "Where do you want all this?"
"Want all what?" the chef guy grunted, popping up out of the sheltered area they'd constructed to help muffle the generator noise.
His eyebrows rose as he took her in; if he'd been working with the mech metal for long, he undoubtedly knew how much it weighed. "Thought we'd left all that behind."
"You did," she said, dropping the box at his feet with a loud clank. Then she jerked her chin over her shoulder toward Kennedy and Zahra, the tallest and most muscled of the Slayer group, trotting in behind her with the whole carcass braced over their shoulders. "That, too."
"Ho-lee shit," he commented, grinning madly at the sight. "Tell me you didn't run that thing all this way without taking the truck."
"Couldn't afford to waste the gas, remember?" Buffy smirked at him. "Cheaper to just feed us a little extra. How fast do you think you can make us a couple of clips each? The sooner we bust your friend out, the better. We can work on collecting more dead mechs afterward."
Kennedy and Zahra slowed to a halt a few paces away, then carefully shifted the weight off their shoulders until they could drop the mech on the grass without flattening anyone's stray arm or foot. Pope limped out of his enclosure to run a hand over the bullet-pocked carapace, an almost lascivious gleam in his eye as he probed the metal wounds.
"First off, he isn't my friend," he said, dryly. "And second – mmm, not long. It took a couple of days to make the last batch, but that was with other demands on the power, and limited shifts working the molds. If y'all help, it'll go faster. You'll have to wait until the custom batch I've got going right now is done, though. Couple of hours. Your friend Andrew brought me some pretty neat stuff."
Zahra sucked in a breath at that. "He gave you that?" she said.
"Gave who what?" Kennedy frowned at the young woman standing next to her. "Is this about that heavy thing he keeps wrapped up at the bottom of his bag?"
"What thing?" Buffy blinked at both of them. Then she turned to frown at Pope.
"Whoa, hey. Don't look at me," he said, throwing up his hands. "Ask your friend. I'm just the guy baking the bullets." Then he ducked back down into the enclosure, whistling under his breath.
Zahra bit her lip, looking torn. "If it's what I think it is – he was saving it. He didn't want to tell you guys he had it, because – well, he thought you'd want to throw it away, or bury it, or something, and he thought it might still come in handy."
"Spit it out, Zahra," Kennedy frowned at her.
Buffy thought she had figured it out, though. Andrew had been badly injured during the final assault in the ruins of Sunnydale, and during his recovery he'd fixated on writing an accurate account of events. He'd been completely shocked when she mentioned breaking the Scythe in her efforts to destroy the Seed of Wonder, and horrified that she'd just left it there when they'd evacuated the caverns.
She'd told him she'd had other things on her mind at the time, and left it at that. He hadn't bothered her again, but she wouldn't be surprised to find she'd talked Spike or someone else into going back with him for it.
"It's the Scythe, isn't it," she said. "The blade was warped, and I broke the haft, but if he found it–"
"There was still some enchantment left in the metal," Zahra confirmed. "He thought bullets made out of it might be at least as deadly as the mech metal ones, at least against living targets. I guess he talked Pope into trying it while we were out."
Buffy wasn't sure how she felt about that. The Scythe had sung to her every time she'd used it; a weapon meant for wiping demons from the face of the Earth. Then again... Skitters were as close to demons as they were ever likely to encounter again, and maybe it was fitting, giving the broken symbol of the mass Slayer empowerment one last gasp of purpose in their efforts to beat back the dark.
"I guess it's worth a shot," she said. Then she smiled at Zahra. "Don't worry, I'm not upset. A little bemused that he never told me about it, but that's Andrew for you. I will want to talk to him about it later, though."
"I'll let him know." Zahra smiled back, then nodded to Kennedy and trudged off toward the chow lines, rubbing her shoulder a little where the heavy mech had pressed into the muscle.
"I bet you're sore, too," Buffy nodded at Kennedy's shoulder. "Need a massage?"
"Food first, then that sounds like a plan."