Everything either belongs to Joss or it should, no infringement is intended and no profit is to be made. When you get right down to it I’m not really worth suing anyway unless you want a share of an underpaid civil servants wages and it just wouldn’t be worth the hassle trust me.Summers Residence - Sunnydale - April 2003
Andrew looked out of the window into the back yard. Wesley had needed more free space than was available inside and had laid out a blanket on the ground. Spread out across the blanket were a large number of weapons, including numerous firearms one of which he was stripping down methodically to clean, sitting down cross-legged facing his arsenal. He was quite mechanical in his movements and utterly expressionless in his demeanour.
From this angle you could clearly see the vicious scar that seemed to encircle much of his neck, how anyone could have survived the blood loss that must have resulted was almost inconceivable.
He had also, once again, not bothered to shave.
‘The Rogue Watcher’ Andrew began dramatically. ‘Banished from the Council for losing the slayer Faith to the Dark Side, he sought redemption on the mean streets of LA fighting evil alongside the ensouled vampyre champion Angel’ Andrew said, pausing for effect before continuing. ‘But as he looked into the Nietzschean abyss, he that fought monsters became part monster himself, and now, with a soul as tortured as his scarred body, even he
does not know whether he is truly a warrior of the light or has he slipped inexorably into shadow.’
‘And this is when you tell us one of those guns is a Phaser he took off a dead Klingon he defeated in single combat right?’ Rona interrupted, causing a burst of laughter from the potentials.
Andrew speared her with a cold look. ‘Silly foolish girl’ he said curtly. ‘Klingon warriors carry Disruptor pistols not Phasers’ he told her shocked by the ignorance. What were they teaching young people in school these days he wondered?
‘Funny thing is’ Faith observed from the other side of the kitchen ‘a few years back Wesley out there was such an uncool wuss he made Andrew here look like fucking Shaft’ she told them. ‘A shorter honky Shaft anyhow’ she said, expanding the analogy.
The slayer opened a cupboard to get a glass. If she drank straight from the milk container again Buffy would kick her ass. ‘Andrew’s got a good point to make though’ she advised. ‘Wes is not someone you should take lightly. He’ll do whatever it takes, sacrifice anyone, including himself, for the win’ she told the potentials. ‘When we were hunting Angelus I watched him torture a girl not much older than you with a knife to get the info we needed. The badass look ain’t surface decoration it goes right the way through.’
The potentials, some looking more than a bit nervous, turned to look through the window at the man outside again. He was now loading shotgun shells into his pump-action.
‘Well I still
think that’s the hottest damn Watcher I’ve ever seen’ Kennedy remarked off-handedly. ‘And I’m gay’ she pointed out for emphasis.
Faith laughed ‘If he’d looked that good when he first came to Sunnydale I wouldn’t have gone off the tracks’ she declared. ‘Of course the Council would still
have fired his Limey ass because I’d have gotten his pants off quicker than you could say “inappropriate Slayer/Watcher relationship”.’
‘And to think that I
used to be the “Hot” watcher’ Giles said loudly sticking his head around the corner. ‘Faith, you have wounded me deeply’ he said with a mournful tone, and an expression of sadness on his face, but an amused look in his eye.
Faith grinned ‘Don’t sweat it G’ she replied. ‘I always thought that as older guys went you were definitely worth a jump’ she reassured him.
‘My masculinity restored I go to fetch more supplies from the store’ Giles responded. ‘I need two volunteers to help me carry bags’ he said pointing to two potentials. ‘You and you’ he ordered.
Amanda, one of the pointees, grumbled. ‘Volunteer, my ass’ she moaned.
‘Watch your language’ Faith chided trying to look stern. ‘Hey do as I say not as I do, I’m a lousy role model’ she continued in response to the look on Amanda’s face.
Several of the potentials nodded in agreement.
Faith looked at them askance. ‘But my dress-sense is bitchin’ she declared, her expression clearly challenging any of them to disagree.Shadow Valley Vineyards – April 2003
The place was still smouldering when they returned in convoy just before twilight. Buffy got out first with Faith as backup, Spike was back at the house looking after the potentials.
A loud clack-clack of Wesley racking his shotgun broke the silence.
Giles turned to the younger Englishman. ‘Macho posturing with firearms?’ he queried. ‘We really need to get you home soon before you start liking weak beer and baseball too’ he said.
‘Don’t worry’ Wesley replied nonchalantly. ‘I still go berserk if they put the tea in before the milk’ he deadpanned.
‘The way down is still open’ Faith noted, using a sword as a pointer. ‘So we thinking it’s Bringer Central down there right now?’ she asked.
‘Without Caleb to delegate his authority over the Bringers to The First will be under more pressure now it has to do everything itself, but its forces are still considerable. It will certainly muster large numbers against us.’ “Fred” replied.
Buffy turned to “Fred”. ‘Your show’ she said. ‘Lead on’ she told her. ‘Might want to put your game face on though.’
Illyria morphed from the Burkle persona into her armoured and blue-pigmented form. ‘You will follow me down. Try not to get injured’ she told the others.
Buffy looked at Illyria and rolled her eyes. ‘You may think you’re the real deal Blue, but I’ve
been kicking ass and taking names on the Hellmouth for years’ she stated coldly, bringing her broadsword up to rest against her shoulder. ‘Don’t think that just because you’re supposed to be a God-King, and I’m just a mortal, that I can’t handle myself. Glory thought that, she was a God too, and I slapped her down’ the slayer declared.
The God-King looked at her. There was a definite edge there, hidden depths of destruction waiting to be unleashed. Perhaps she had underestimated the human? ‘I did not mean to belittle you’ she told Buffy. ‘I am trying to get the best possible result from this timeline, having to create another is something I wish to avoid.’
‘Fair enough then’ Buffy replied, having stamped her authority down. ‘Let’s go hunt some Bringers.’
Giles turned to Wesley. ‘Given the shotgun you might be the one to ask, are Bringers actually in hunting season this month and what’s the bag limit on those things?’
‘You’re thinking of pheasant Rupert’ Wesley replied, playing along. ‘Did they take the students at the Watcher Academy out to the Hampshire Shoots way back in your day?' he asked curiously. ‘I was always a dab hand with a Twelve-Bore myself’ he said, patting his shotgun.
The older Watcher nodded. ‘Yes but it was trickier in the prehistoric era when I was there, what with having to use the spears and stone clubs’ he replied.
Faith tilted her head and looked at the two of them in turn. ‘It’s going to be Limey overload with you two together from now on isn’t it?’ she asked rhetorically.
Giles sighed. ‘Such a young country’ he said sadly. ‘Yet to embrace the finer things in life such as dry wit and an utterly unflappable persona.’
‘Give them a few more centuries they’ll come around’ Wesley assured him.
Buffy rolled her eyes again. ‘Let’s just get on with it’ she said, following Illyria.
‘Bloody Colonials’ Giles mumbled.
‘I heard that!’ Buffy snapped back.
Down the steps the old cellar was a blackened mess, the floor an oozing mess of ashes and wine from the barrels. The smell was rich and unpleasant, the environment downright creepy in the extreme.
Illyria could see fairly adequately in the dark but the others carried flashlights in the hand not carrying a weapon, except that is for Wesley who had taped his own light to his shotgun. The beams skittered off the damp carbon ash and threw shadows that seemed to move as if they were alive themselves.
‘I’ve seen this film’ Faith spoke up. ‘The chick with the best rack always dies first and with these two as the only alternatives I’m in trouble’ she said with mock nervousness.
Buffy hushed her but Wesley nearly choked holding back a guffaw.
A figure suddenly leaped from the shadows into the beam being projected by Giles flashlight. ‘Turok-Han’ he called out as the beast bared its teeth at them in challenge.
‘Shit’ Buffy swore. Uber-Vamps were a lot tougher than Bringers she thought, raising her sword for the fight as it readied to attack. ‘These things go down hard and they hit like Mike Tyson so don’t let yourself get pinned’ she called out. ‘Easiest way to kill them is decapitation’ she advised.
Snarling the Turok-Han launched itself at the closest intruder.
Illyria span to meet the attack and drove her fist towards the vampire, the Turok-Han instantly exploding into a cloud of dust.
‘Or you could
just punch their hearts right out of their chest through their back’ Buffy added reasonably.
Faith looked at Illyria who was partially illuminated by her flashlight with the light skittering over the dust falling around her. ‘Christ, she’s mean!’ the slayer observed appreciatively, and in mild awe.
‘Yeah but where’s the cool funny lines after the kill and the stylish moves?’ Buffy asked disparagingly. ‘She’s missing out on all the best bits of slaying demons for a living’ she opined. ‘Where’s the fun? Where's the joy?’ she asked.
‘We’ve got company!’ Wesley called out urgently, pointing his shotgun/flashlight towards the threat as a horde of Bringers began charging towards them.
Illyria looked at them dispassionately and swept her hand in front of her.
Buffy, Faith, Giles and Wesley watched the God-King disappear into a blur and then suddenly the mass of onrushing Bringers was simply torn apart, limbs, cowls and body parts flying everywhere as something moving too fast to see ripped them apart in a flash with its bare hands.
Buffy grimaced and began following the trail of destruction as it disappeared from view still carving its way through a seemingly inexhaustible column of Bringers.
Stepping over bodies, some still twitching, Wesley noted that using your hands like blades left a much messier wound than a nice sharp sword and he really should have worn his old boots and jeans because they weren’t just walking through blood, they were wading
‘Well I still think that it would have been cooler if she’d said something to the Bringers like maybe “Resistance is Futile” before doing the Matrix thing’ Buffy observed, squelching along towards a cavern opening up ahead.
One of the Bringers stirred and tried to lift an axe, Wesley reacting by lowering his aim to blow its head off. The sound of the shotgun blast was deafening and echoed on for what seemed like an eternity. The other three looked at him in disapproval. ‘I’ll let you stab the next one’ he said sheepishly.
Faith shook her head to get rid of the ringing in her ears and stopping briefly to thrust her sword into another relatively undamaged Bringer before she and the others moved on.
Ahead of them, just far enough along that the lights of four humans could still be seen in the distance, Illyria slid back into the normal flow of time not wishing to use her powers too much. She was still surrounded by Bringers who moved to attack as soon as they could see her but she fought back ferociously smashing bodies and cleaving through her foes using flattened hands like battleaxes.
A Bringer slammed a sword with all its might into her chest, the blade snapping in two but leaving a cut in her armour. Illyria slammed her head back into the face of another behind her then ripped out the first Bringers entrails for its temerity.
Suddenly the onslaught against her lessened as the two slayers, hollering fierce battle cries and with raised and bloody swords arrived on the scene, running to the God-Kings aid. They hacked their way into the Bringers just as the two watchers following up behind appeared, Wesley pumping and firing his shotgun as fast as he could into the ever depleting Bringer ranks and Giles slamming his own sword as hard as he could into the closest enemy before withdrawing it to parry another sword that was swung his direction. After the first few seconds Giles mouth formed into a savage grin as the mild-mannered librarian watcher took a back seat and the Ripper took control. Wesley might look the part but the older Watcher still had a darkness inside him too, kept safely under wraps most of the time but always ready to draw on if necessary.
Wesley dropped the shotgun when it clicked empty and pulled his twin automatics from their shoulder-holsters, blazing away with his .45’s, his face a mask of calm as he cut down his opponents.
The Bringers eventually stopped coming. The few that remained were ruthlessly hacked and shot to pieces. The fighting ended as abruptly as it had begun, scant minutes earlier, with the appearance of the Turok-Han.
Breathing heavily from the energetic swordplay Giles illuminated Illyria with his flashlight. Her body and hair were drenched in blood that dripped into the pool by her feet, she looked almost regal in her sheen of gore.
‘The First’s forces are heavily depleted’ Illyria stated spitting blood onto the ground. She had ripped out one Bringers throat with her teeth during the skirmish and she did not like the taste. ‘They will recover their numbers in time.’
‘Yes they will’ a voice agreed. ‘Sooner than you think’ it claimed.
The five spun. ‘Caleb’ Faith said.
‘It’s The First’ Giles told her.
The First smiled. ‘You took my Good Right Arm away from me, but I don’t need an arm, I’ve got an Army’ it claimed. ‘And what’s the worth of a few dozen Bringers compared to Legions of Turok-Han?’
‘More than a few dozen’ Illyria countered sweeping her hand around to indicate the devastation she had wrought. ‘You are no more omniscient nor omnipotent in this age than you were in mine’ she told him. ‘I did not take you seriously then and I still do not. Lesser Gods may have worshipped at your feet but I was beyond such foolishness as paying homage to the incorporeal.’
‘Illyria my dear’ the First replied. ‘It’s true I am no greater now than I was when you commanded mighty armies but you
are so much less now than you were’ he declared. ‘How long will it be until you can safely use your powers like that again?’ it asked. ‘Days? Weeks? How many of my true forces could you kill before you were bought down?’
‘Enough’ Illyria replied curtly and imperiously.
The First shook his head. ‘Your days are long gone God-King. Soon you will go the way of all the other Old-Ones’ it said. ‘But take heart that you will slide into oblivion beside such august company as the last of the Slayers.’
‘You’re a cocky son-of-a-bitch for a man who’s been losing all the battles’ Faith told him smiling viciously. ‘Might take you more seriously if I see some action to go with all that bullshit you’re shovelling.’
Buffy laughed. ‘He doesn’t do action Faith’ she said. ‘He talks the talk but walking the walk is just not in his repertoire’ she said smugly. ‘It’s all mind games and no actual
‘We’ll see’ the First replied. ‘Anyhow don’t need to win the battles, going to win the war instead. See y’all around’ it said with a wink then disappeared.
talk the talk pretty well though’ Faith admitted forlornly. ‘Anyhow aren’t we here for a scythe?’
Illyria pointed. ‘That way’ she said. ‘As I get closer its menace builds’ she continued. ‘One of the Slayers must wrest it from its position in the rock.’
Buffy looked at the Old One. ‘Sort of a Sword from the Stone thing like Excalibur?’ she asked. ‘Only the true King, I mean Queen, can draw the scythe?’
‘If it really is
Excalibur’ Wesley whispered to Giles ‘You can be the one to tell Her Majesty back home she’s being replaced by Queen Elizabeth the Third.’
‘They would not have the strength’ Illyria replied indicating Wesley and Giles. ‘And I do not wish to go anywhere near it.’
Buffy smirked. ‘Scares you does it?’
Illyria frowned. ‘I fear nothing’ she retorted, ‘but the weapon was made to fight the mightiest of demon kind and will not react well to being handled by me as an Old One. Even being close to it makes me… wary.’
‘Like a vampire and a crucifix?’ Giles theorised.
The Shaper of Things spat onto the ground again. She still couldn’t get the taste of that damn Bringer out of her mouth. ‘A reasonable analogy’ she conceded eventually.
Wesley took a breath. ‘So the scythe could kill you?’ he asked grimly.
Illyria looked at her guide then to Buffy. ‘I could lie and say no but I would try and be honest with you in our dealings’ she told the young woman. ‘In the hands of a slayer the scythe can end my life, I hope that is not your intention and I trust you feel more secure in your dealings with me to know that.’
Buffy looked her over and nodded. ‘Gotta admit to feeling better knowing I can take you down if I have to’ she said, ‘but more than that I’m starting to improve my opinion of you generally.’
‘Your opinion of me weighs less than sunlight’ Illyria retorted dismissively. ‘I care for your approval not, only your cooperation.’
The slayer grinned. ‘Somehow I’m getting the impression that you aren’t being quite as straight with me there as you were about the scythe.’
‘Think what you will’ Illyria told her. ‘It matters not. Recover the slayer weapon so that we can leave this place’ she said then paused. ‘We will have to stop off somewhere to buy mouthwash on the way back to your home’ she added.
‘Bringer not going to be the next great fast-food taste sensation?’ Faith asked, looking at the blood all over the God-Kings face.
‘The flavour is unimaginably foul’ Illyria responded. ‘I have eaten better tasting laboratory equipment’ she said, sticking out her tongue in distaste.
Buffy and Faith looked at her strangely then went to collect the scythe.