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Compelled to Play for High Stakes

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This story is No. 5 in the series "Compelled - The Buffy/Angelverse Reshaped". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Fifth story in the Compelled series - Escalating threats and internal strife threaten the lives and unity of the slayers

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > General(Current Donor)HotpointFR181679,8664825251,58626 Jul 0828 Jun 09No

Chapter Two

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.



WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE SEASON 8 COMICS



Scotland – Alternate Earth AE2005-0004-B (Pathfinder Index Code) – July 2005

The helicopter pulled away from the castle and released the ropes letting them fall away as soon as the last girl to rappel down onto the walls had landed. It flew off and began circling them far enough away that the whine of it’s turbine engines didn’t interfere with the mixed clamour of nervous, bewildered and frankly horrified conversations that were going on between the hundred or so slayers now manning the battlements.

Connor recognised one of the black-clad new arrivals, she had been one of the slayers that fought against the First Evil back in Sunnydale and although he couldn’t claim to know more than a fraction of the girls generally there was a camaraderie between those who had fought side-by-side against the Turok-Han in the hellmouth. ‘Lucy’ he called out, waving at her, the girl spotting him and running over, ignoring the looks she was getting from the locals.

‘You’re our Connor right?’ the girl began, verifying his identity. They had all been lectured on the need to make sure you were talking to the right person when in a parallel dimension.

‘Right’ Connor confirmed. ‘This isn’t our Buffy’ he noted.

‘No shit and I guess the guy with the patch ain’t our Xander either’ Lucy responded wryly. ‘Gunslayer First Class Lucy Dean reporting for duty Ma’am’ she introduced herself with a half-hearted salute then looked out at the vast number of demons moving towards them. ‘Looks like got a real pest control problem’ she observed thoughtfully.

Buffy looked at the girl, she knew her, or at least she knew the version of Lucy that lived in this universe, it was hard to reconcile them though. Her Lucy didn’t carry a machine-gun, didn’t have her own scythe handing from a strap on her back and definitely didn’t wear a helmet with “Chosen to Kill” written on the front. ‘There’s more coming right?’ she asked the pseudo-stranger.

‘Oh yeah we were the only ones ready to go straight away’ Lucy replied, ‘we were about to do some live-fire exercises so we just grabbed some extra ammo and jumped on the Huey when it was ready’ she said. ‘Garfield wasn’t too happy at the idea of flying through the portal but the good thing about mercs is they’re open to financial persuasion’ she told Connor. ‘They offered him a bonus, bolted the weapons on fast and we came on through’ she said. ‘Cool or what?’ she asked rhetorically with a grin.

‘Glad to see you, I hope you’ve got plenty of extra bullets’ Connor noted, indicating the army headed their direction.

‘Thousand rounds a girl, ten grenades apiece for the launchers’ Lucy replied, indicating the single-shot grenade launcher fitted under the barrel of her rifle. ‘We’ll get a few of them’ she declared brightly.

‘Not nearly enough’ Xander responded flatly.

‘Can’t argue with that’ Lucy agreed. Even if they never missed and killed a demon with every bullet, which wasn’t remotely possible as it usually took several hits on average, they would still run out of ammunition well before the enemy ran out of bodies. ‘How many of them are there?’ she asked.

‘Over a hundred thousand’ Connor told her.

‘Conservatively we’ll get no more than three thousand before we’re hand to hand’ Lucy stated. ‘Maybe more if we’re lucky’ she continued, ‘it’s a pretty good place to defend’ she decided, looking around. ‘If we’re careful with ammo and only start firing at half a klick, we’ll bloody them pretty bad at least’ she reasoned.

‘Half a klick is long range’ Xander noted, ‘a klick is a kilometer’ he told Buffy, ‘soldier talk’ he explained.

‘It’s not long range for one of these’ Lucy replied, indicating her assault rifle. ‘The rounds are still supersonic out well past a klick, at half that the trajectory is a lot flatter than the five-fifty-six NATO you’re thinking of’ she told him. ‘We’re been trying to get our Xander to give up his M-16 for one of these but he won’t’ she told him.

‘I’ve got an M16?’ Xander queried, he knew how to use one thanks to his soldier-boy memories but he didn’t own one. They didn’t use guns in the slaying business on this world, he was actually surprised they did in another parallel one.

‘Yeah but I think the last thing that was killed with it was a bunny’ Connor told him. ‘You locked it away so Anya couldn’t get to it after that’ he added. ‘It’s not just bugs Lucy, we’ve got worse out there’ he told the girl seriously.

The gunslayer raised her rifle to look through the telescopic sight built into it. ‘Okay so now I wish we had a few RPG’s’ she said with a grimace. ‘I guess my scythe’s going to earn its keep when those big red, rocky fuckers get here’ she said glumly. ‘Grenades might slow them down I suppose?’ she remarked hopefully.

‘Don’t count on it’ Connor told her.

‘Oh this is all too weird’ Willow declared. ‘Parallel universes, demon armies...’

‘They warned us to expect provincial attitudes’ Lucy observed with a shrug, reaching to the radio headset fitted to her helmet and flicking it on. ‘Garfield, as soon as one of those red things with the horns get close try and hit it with a rocket okay’ she told the pilot. ‘Don’t waste the minigun ammo on them, it’ll bounce off’ she added. ‘Use it to rip up the bugs.’

Buffy looked down the line of girls, the small number of new arrivals having positioned themselves unbidden at regular intervals and now either joining in conversation with her own slayers or looking out at the demons through rifle sights. ‘Willow is there anything you can do?’ she asked.

Willow blinked. ‘I can put up a mystical barrier’ she said, ‘like the one that I used to stop the Knights of Byzantium, I’m strong enough to shield the whole castle now’ she said, ‘but I don’t know how long I could hold it for’ she admitted.

‘The bug mages will probably crack it a lot faster than you’d like’ Lucy told her. ‘It’s always a numbers game with them’ she said. ‘When I fought them on their homeworld we killed thousands of them but in the end we had to retreat because we ran out of ammunition before they ran out of troops’ she told them, ‘or guts’ she added. ‘They’re brave and they believe’ she noted, ‘they believe hard’ she said. ‘Never been more proud of something I was killing than those things out there’ she said.

‘I think they’re about to prove their faith’ Xander said, looking out at the demons. They seemed to have forming up into huge blocks, each perhaps ten thousand strong.

‘Trust in the Lord but keep your powder dry’ Lucy responded. That was one of the innumerable adopted catchphrases the gunslayers liked to throw about almost as much as they did concussion grenades.

‘Buffy there’s a girl running up the track out there’ one of the slayers called out, pointing down at the broken gravel trail that led to the castle.

‘Who’s missing?’ Xander called out urgently. Sometimes the girls liked to wander out onto the moors, whoever it was her timing stank.

Lucy looked through her telescopic sight again. ‘It’s not one of yours’ she said, with another grin. ‘We just got reinforced’ she announced as the lone girl veered off the track and inexplicably kept running towards the demons.

‘Is it who I think it is?’ Connor asked.

‘Yeah, well it’s not like anybody else is going to travel with her are they’ Lucy answered.

‘Who is that lunatic?’ Buffy asked incredulously as the girl continued to run towards the horde, rapidly closing with them, she was clearly a slayer from her speed.

‘She’s really more of a what, than a who’ Connor told her. ‘Or maybe a who and a what’ he added after thinking about it some more.

Rebecca Wyndham-Pryce had literally dropped out of a portal two miles away, at several hundred feet of altitude, and had been sprinting towards her destination ever since she pulled herself out of the boggy ground where she landed and reached the path, which unlike the moor was sturdy enough underfoot to run on. It was only fortunate that the opposition had not seen her method of arrival given that it both gave her the element of surprise and also left her dignity intact. She doubted anyone would have regarded her with awe if they’d seen her driven to her waist into the ground and then clambering out hoping not to leave a boot behind.

Wearing the same black combat gear as the girls who had already arrived she had an oversized “pistol” made from a cut-down fifty-calibre sniper rifle holstered against her right thigh, a standard-issue roman style gladius short-sword hanging from her belt on the other side and a partially blue broadsword strapped to her back which would have made the one William Wallace used to haul around these parts green with envy. Slowing to a jog, and finally a slow walk, as she neared the demon ranks she wished to hell she had borrowed a scythe too because Dawn hadn’t mentioned a damn thing about the stone behemoths mixed in with the bugs. Those things were dangerous, even for her in large numbers, three of them working together had once beaten her badly enough to break her jaw and several ribs before she managed to break free.

Rebecca stopped less than a hundred yards ahead of the demons and tried her best to look nonchalant about it. ‘This is not your world’ she called out. ‘Leave now or face certain death’ she told them authoritatively.

Approximately twelve thousand demons who were in line of sight, many of whom had understood her words and had translated them to their comrades nearby, stared at her incredulously, and thousands others further back in the formation wondered what in the name of the Blessed Devourer was going on as word spread. After some deliberation they collectively decided that the heretic with the mop of brown fur on top of her head stood before them wasn’t worshipping with a full set of clay prayer tablets and eventually one had the presence of mind to step forward to address her. ‘Accept the true god into your life and bask in her glory that she may cure you of your derangement’ it advised helpfully.

Rebecca glared at the insectoid demon. ‘I stand as champion of Illyria, God-King of the Primordium, sworn enemy of the false trickster you worship’ she declared. ‘Who among you has the courage to face me alone?’ she asked.

‘You think that if you defeat one of us the rest will leave?’ the demon who had spoken up asked, it was a nice try anyway he thought, but smacked of desperation.

‘No I merely wish to test my fighting skills and faith against yours’ Rebecca replied. ‘The outcome of the fight will decide nothing but who has the greater warriors in their cause.’

‘Such a challenge is no test’ a deep voice interrupted, ‘but I will give you the death you clearly desire’ it said as the speaker, an eight foot red demon declared pushing its way past the other smaller demons surrounding it.

Oh this is going to hurt in the morning, Rebecca thought to herself as she removed her weapons, put them on the ground and limbered up. ‘Bare knuckles good for you?’ she asked as the demon approached with a confident smirk on its face.

Xander watched the fight from up on the wall, holding his telescope up to his one good eye. ‘She’s getting killed out there’ he stated, watching the demon beat the living daylights out of the girl. Time after time she was knocked flying but kept getting back up and attacking again, he winced as the demon punched her in the gut, doubling her over, before it landed a punch to the side of her head that sent her practically somersaulting away.

‘I can try and save her’ Willow offered.

‘If she wanted to she could run away’ Connor told her.

‘So she’d rather get beaten to death?’ Buffy exclaimed. ‘What is this? Some kind of warrior code? No retreat no surrender?’ she asked with derision.

Lucy rolled her eyes and turned towards this dimensions version of the Chief Slayer. ‘She’s buying time’ she responded. ‘This is a delaying tactic’ she stated with certainty.

‘What?’ Buffy replied in bewilderment.

‘She’s letting that thing beat up on her because as long as its friends are stood around watching the dumbass human getting turned into bloody pulp they aren’t attacking us’ Connor explained. ‘It won’t be for much longer though’ he added, ‘she’ll be pissed off in a minute’ he said, shaking his head sadly. ‘Poor bastard.’

‘What the hell are you talking about?’ Xander replied, lowering the telescope.

‘I’d keep watching if I was you’ Connor advised.

Rebecca put her arm across her ribs as if to protect them as she tried to get up once again but failed, wheezing as if she had been broken up inside by the relentless pummelling. This must have been what it was like for Mom the first time she met one of these things she decided.

‘I had heard tales of the power of the slayers’ the demon said, standing over her, ‘but you are nothing’ he declared. ‘You would make war against my Master and her armies?’ he asked rhetorically. ‘You are weak and pathetic’ he opined dismissively. ‘A pity, I was hoping for so much more’ he said regretfully.

‘I guess the lesson there is that you shouldn’t make assumptions without seeing for yourself’ Rebecca told him, before coughing repeatedly.

‘I will be merciful and end this now’ the demon told her magnanimously, looking down at the fragile human with a mixture of pity and contempt. ‘Truly, is this all that you are?’ he asked rhetorically bringing down a granite fist.

The girl caught the fist in her hand and held it in a painfully strong grip. ‘No’ she replied in cold and harsh tones, getting up off the ground.

Watching from the castle battlements Xander blinked and lowered his telescope again. ‘Okay, so do any of the rest of you change colour like that?’ he asked curiously.

‘Only one but her hair turns blue’ Lucy told him, watching through her rifle sight as Rebecca took a step back and let the other being that shared her body and consciousness take charge. Somebody should probably have warned the demon it was a tag-team match, she thought.

After delivering a combination of punches which would have crippled a master-vampire Enyo threw a right cross that sent the demon staggering away, head lolling as if stunned, and before it could recover she launched into a round-house kick that sent it crashing to the earth. ‘Is this all that you are?’ she quoted sarcastically as she got down on one knee beside it and started relentlessly raining blows down upon it with her right fist, pounding the demon into the mud until it stopped moving. It was far from dead but what passed for a brain within its rocky skull was too rattled around for it to even struggle, let alone fight.

Tens of thousands of eyes fixed upon her Enyo calmly walked over to the weapons Rebecca had put down and retrieved them, holstering her handgun, sheaving her gladius but holding her broadsword up in challenge, the metallic blue of part of the length matching some of the patches on her skin. ‘Swear fealty to my clan and you will end this day as vassal, not as a festering corpse dripping blood into the dirt’ she declared imperiously. ‘The deity you worship will kneel before my mother Illyria and beg for mercy one day’ she vowed.

‘Kill her’ a demon roared and they surged forward as Enyo raised her free hand to show them what a god truly worthy of their fear, awe and devotion could do.

Buffy was watching through binoculars as... whatever the hell it was... became a blur of speed, like she remembered Glory had done only more so if anything, and the lead ranks of the demon army suddenly seemed to become a spray of blood and body parts. ‘Oh my God’ she said in revulsion at the sight.

‘It’s “God-Princess” if you want to get the title right’ Connor told her as Buffy watched the girl momentarily snap back into focus, standing in front of another of the rock-demons, her gun in her hand barrel pressed into it’s eye and the demon no doubt very surprised as she pulled the trigger, becoming a blur again as it fell backwards dead, it’s brain instantly destroyed.

Hundreds, thousands were relentlessly and ruthlessly cleaved apart by her sword as Enyo moved through the demons who were standing near motionless from her perspective. Whenever she encountered another of the most dangerous foes she dealt with it the same way with her pistol, soon exhausting her ten round magazine and reloading her only spare to kill five more before she started to feel the shell destabilising. Although she could use magicks as her father Berith did to stabilise the inadequate frame that contained her essence, she could only push her use of her arcane powers too far and it might be a mistake to run out of tricks so early in the battle.

Buffy watched the blur leave the bloody turmoil left behind in its wake and become a human form again as the girl ran at better than slayer speed towards the castle, the demons seemingly awestruck and reeling from the assault, unable to fathom what had just occurred. ‘And that thing is definitely on our side?’ she verified cautiously as it approached.

‘Yes but she prefers to be called Rebecca’ Connor replied, ‘or Enyo’ he added.

‘So why didn’t it kill all of them?’ Xander asked, looking at Willow who seemed horrified beyond words at the slaughter she had just witnessed albeit at enough distance that she wasn’t prompted to throw up.

‘Lacks endurance’ Connor explained, ‘at least at that speed’ he said. ‘Her Mother needs to recharge after doing that kind of thing too much as well’ he continued. ‘She’s Illyria, the mother I mean’ he explained, ‘the one with the hair that turns blue’ he told them.

The girl finally reached the castle but before Buffy could order the gates to be opened she broke into a full sprint and using the momentum to help jumped up onto the wall in a single leap, scaring the daylights out of the girls stood where she landed, and also spraying them with some of the gore that now coated her, the off-colour demon blood dripping onto the stone where she now stood. ‘Here’ one of the unrattled gunslayers told her offering a cloth from one of the pockets on her jacket.

Enyo wiped her face as clean as she could and approached Buffy and Connor, slayers all around now almost as nervous about her presence as they were the threatening demonic army. Lucy half-smiled as she realised how eerie the likes of Enyo must be to people that didn’t deal with demon gods on a regular basis.

‘Her eyes are blue’ Willow whispered to Buffy. ‘Not human blue’ she noted, they were crystalline and glacial, unfeeling and cold.

‘And her ears are working and her hearing superior to yours’ Enyo responded loudly. ‘Your hair and eyes are known to go black so you are in no position to criticise my colouration’ she added firmly before she did shift colour again, red and blue patches of her exposed skin and her hair becoming more human in appearance. ‘Sorry about Enyo, she’s not a people person’ the girl said. ‘I’m Rebecca’ she introduced herself, holding out a bloody hand to shake which Buffy took and regretted it as she had to wipe it clean on her top.

Buffy fixed the demon with a look. ‘What just happened there?’ she asked, it was like someone had thrown a switch and the girl had changed and not just her pigmentation. ‘The change I mean.’

‘Two distinct individuals sharing one body’ the girl explained. ‘I’m Rebecca, I’m a slayer, the other one in here is Enyo and she’s a demon goddess’ she said. ‘I know that sounds weird to you but you should experience it from my side’ she pointed out reasonably.

‘You’re possessed?’ Willow asked, looking at the girl with uncertainty.

‘Yes but depending on perspective I’m either a human possessed by a demon or a demon possessed by a human soul’ Rebecca told her with a shrug. ‘Please don’t try an exorcism spell or some shit like that’ she requested. ‘Dawn didn’t mention there were bigger problems out here than bugs’ she said to Connor chidingly. ‘I could have borrowed Mom’s scythe if I’d known.’

‘Dawn portalled out before we saw them’ Connor replied apologetically.

‘Okay so let me get this straight’ Xander spoke up, ‘your Mom is Illyria and she’s a blue haired chick with her own slayer scythe?’ he asked.

‘No Enyo’s Mother is Illyria’ Rebecca patiently explained, ‘my human Mom has a scythe’ she said.

Connor laughed. ‘Tell her who your Mom and Dad are’ he pleaded.

‘Faith Lehane and Wesley Wyndham Pryce’ Rebecca told them ‘I’m from the future’ she explained to the now increasingly wide-eyed Buffy.

Xander looked at the blood drenched “girl” in disbelief. ‘I’m not asking anything else because I just don’t want to know’ he declared.

‘Right there with you’ Willow agreed wholeheartedly.

‘They’re rallying’ one of the gunslayers called out, prompting everyone to get back to the task at hand.

‘That was quick, considering’ Rebecca observed. ‘We should break them up again before they’ve sorted themselves out’ she advised.

Lucy nodded and switched her headset radio back to transmit. ‘Garfield, they’re getting their shit together’ she said. ‘Do us a favour and un-together their shit’ she requested.

The helicopter stopped circling and started flying towards the seething sea of demons as they reformed into proper order. Onboard the pilot brought his altitude down to a hundred and fifty feet and prepared for a strafing run at high speed hoping that nothing down there could jump that high.

Garfield had been a military pilot originally and had flown in action with the US Army in the First Gulf War back in 1991. After he left he had found civilian flying tedious as hell and after a spell piloting a damn traffic ‘copter for a radio station in San Diego he had been willing to do just about anything which is when he had first been approached by a load of Limey’s from something called “The Watchers Council” who needed the occasional services of a pilot who wasn’t easily panicked and wouldn’t either ask too many questions or be excessively disturbed by the nature of what they did for a living as the Council’s Special Operations Team.

The jobs had been intermittent over the years and occasionally very nerve-racking such as when that vampire had jumped aboard when they were trying to bring down a rogue slayer in LA, but despite the failure there his name had remained on the Council Lists so when the newly resurrected version found itself in need of a full-time pilot they had dug his name out of a slightly bomb-damaged rolodex.

‘This has got to be the weirdest fucking way to earn an honest buck’ Garfield muttered to himself as he squeezed the firing button on top of the helicopter joystick and the two six-barrelled miniguns mounted on pylons next to rocket pods on the side of the helicopter erupted with a stream of bullets that cut through the demon ranks as he flew over them.

The pilot howling an improvised warcry that nobody could had possibly heard over the sound of the helicopter engines and the twin miniguns firing at four-thousand rounds per minute, the Bell 214 hurtled over the demons cutting two parallel lines of mayhem through their ranks in a single pass that lasted a mere ten seconds but which probably seemed like a terrifying eternity to anything directly in its path. The demons were packed together too tightly to scatter and with every fifth round a green tracer it almost looked like the terrifying mechanical apparition was cutting into them with beams of energy rather than tiny pieces of copper-jacketed lead.

Garfield pulled away from his first pass and gained altitude to turn in a graceful loop through the sky.

Down on the ground one of the demons looked up at the thing in dismay and cried out in the series of rapid clicks that were its own language. ‘It’s coming back!’ it moaned as the machine swooped down for another pass.

Garfield had started with two thousand rounds per gun, that meant three ten second bursts before his miniguns ran dry and he wanted to save the last one in case he had to cover a withdrawal. He still had one more strafing run to do and then he’d do his best to tag a few of the easily spotted big red demons with his limited supply of unguided 70mm rockets, seven of which were in each of the two pods he was carrying. They were the same type he had used in the Army, in fact they had US Army markings so he doubted that arms dealer guy Emil had obtained them by means that were in anyway legitimate, but at least he was familiar with them.

Up on the castle walls cheering began as the helicopter started firing rockets into the demons, the smoke trails of he fast-moving weapons ending in a huge explosion as the ten pounds of high-explosives in their warheads detonated. One of the rock demons was hit full on by a rocket in a feat of accuracy that was in reality more luck than anything else was blown to fragments which tore through the bodies of the other demons near it including one of its own granite skinned brethren.

‘Garfield says to consider their shit un-together’ Lucy announced with a grin as the helicopter pulled back away to start circling again in case he was needed.

‘Hopefully they’ll lose order and charge out of frustration’ Rebecca remarked thoughtfully.

‘You want them to attack us?’ Buffy exclaimed.

‘Yes as an unruly mob not an Army’ Rebecca replied, ‘the less organised they are the more change we have to win’ she explained. ‘If they’re an undisciplined rabble Mother will be able to beat them despite the odds’ she said.

‘Organisation and good tactics trumps ferocity and chaos every time’ Lucy agreed. She learned that in Pylea where the gunslayers regularly defeated forces many times more numerous than their own by fighting as a collective to a plan rather than as individuals with a vague idea of what the objective was.

‘They’re coming!’ Willow cried out.

‘Fucking A’ a gunslayer responded enthusiastically, her mood not shared by too many others. ‘And I didn't even hear them breathing hard’ she joked.

‘Gunslayers time to earn your pay’ Lucy bellowed. ‘Hit them at five-hundred metres and keep hitting them right up to the wall’ she ordered. ‘When they’re at less than two hundred put some grenades into them to break up the lines, we want them ragged and messy’ she said, raising her own rifle and chambering a round. ‘Couldn’t wish for a better firing position’ she said happily, taking aim.

‘What makes the grass grow?’ Rebecca hollered.

‘Blood, blood, blood’ Lucy and the other gunslayers responded, almost instinctually.

‘I’m getting nostalgic’ Rebecca declared, ‘this is almost like the Dimension Wars, only with less bugs’ she said brightly.

Less bugs?’ Xander repeated doubtfully.

‘If you think this is bad wait until you see what the future holds’ Rebecca told him. ‘Fighting a million or so Turok-Han, now that is my idea of a decent battle, not a skirmish like this’ she said, starting to clean off her bloody sword as best she could. She’d need it when the demons got over the walls.

Without warning Lucy started firing, other girls joining in as they fired aimed single shots into the onrushing horde. A single round wouldn’t usually kill one of the insectoid demons outright unless you hit a vital organ, but it would cause a severe enough wound that it would probably bleed out and collapse before it reached the wall. As they got closer the gunslayers would start firing short bursts that would bring down one of the demons immediately but that was wasteful of ammunition.

‘I don’t like guns’ Willow said, putting her fingers in her ears.

‘My dad always said, live by the sword die by the sword”, Rebecca quoted, ‘Live by the gun, shoot the guy with the sword, go home and order pizza’ she finished relaying the ageless wisdom of the Wyndham-Pryces.

‘I don’t know, it’s not really being what a slayer is meant to be’ Buffy observed, watching demons being shot down, ‘there’s something lacking’ she declared.

‘Friendly casualties’ Rebecca retorted flatly. One day, as an immortal in a near-infinite multiverse, she was bound by the laws of probability to meet a Buffy who could see the big picture but it wasn’t today she decided.

The demons kept coming, mindless of the number falling around them from bullet wounds as the handful of girls with assault rifles fired again and again, as they got closer and closer some fell to rounds that had already gone right through the demon in front of them and losses quickly mounted into the hundreds which would have been a bigger deal if the first wave alone wasn’t measured in the tens of thousands.

Empty magazines already starting to collect at their feet Buffy couldn’t help but be almost transfixed at just how cool and collected the so-called “gunslayers” seemed to be. Even as their firing rate increased they still methodically lined up each shot, fired and shifted to the next target in a near mechanical routine that was more science than the art she expected of a slayer. It lacked passion, humanity somehow she thought, it was too clinical, too much like cold-blooded murder and not enough like the “warrior of the people” archetype she attributed to slayers she decided, how had they ended up like this, she wondered? If my girls had been through the same circumstances would they be any different?

‘Oh for a dozen water-cooled heavy-machineguns and a few million rounds of ammo’ Lucy muttered to herself as she finished another thirty rounds and ejected the empty magazine. The demons were getting closer and closer all the time and there were a couple of orders of magnitude too many of them to fight with swords, axes and bayonets. She raised her rifle and triggered the grenade launcher, the forty-millimetre grenade thumping off into the distance and landing slap bang in the centre of a lead group of perhaps ten demons, blowing one apart and wounding and scattering the others. She reloaded both her rifle and her grenade launcher then resumed firing, in short bursts now, when they reached the walls she would be holding down the trigger and hosing the barrel left and right like a character in a bad action movie, slayer strength made it possible to do that in real life, she could handle the recoil easily, but the guns in those film didn’t seem to need reloading which hers of course did.

More grenades exploded as the gunslayers started using up their supplies. When the demons got within accurate crossbow range Xander told his own slayers to start firing and the invaders started to fall as a result of steel bolts as well as lead bullets. The rate of fire was too low to help much but the more that didn’t make the wall the better.

‘Might be time for that spell Will’ Buffy told her friend earnestly as the demons got within a few dozen yards of the castle. Willow had been clearing her mind, preparing for this and spread her arms to chant in Latin, it wasn’t exactly good Latin but she made up for her deficiencies in that area with sheer mystical wattage.

‘Cease Fire’ Xander bellowed as Willow did her thing, the bullets and bolts might ricochet back on them or something and that would suck, he decided.

‘Protect’ Willow commanded, casting the spell, a translucent supernatural barrier forming right around the castle only a few yards away from the base of the wall. The first few demons moving at top speed trying to avoid the defensive fire as best they could crashed right into it and bounced off.

‘Way to go Willow!’ Xander exclaimed.

‘Hey this is easy’ Willow said modestly, ‘teleportation is hard’ she said.

Rebecca sighed. ‘You should do it the way I do’ she said sadly, actually even that wouldn’t be a problem for the witch, she could fly.

More and more demons started to mass at the barrier. ‘When that goes down we are in monumentally deep shit’ Connor noted gloomily.

Buffy frowned. ‘I was going to say earlier but is all the swearing strictly necessary?’ she asked. ‘I mean I know we’re in life threatening danger but a potty mouth is never cool’ she said.

Lucy looked at her nonplussed. ‘Foresooth I spy a multitude of bugs in hither glen’ she said eventually.

Rebecca decided to play along. ‘Aye tis so’ she replied. ‘Verily thou art keen of eye’ she declared. ‘Howst canst we bring our foe to righteous defeat?’ she asked.

‘With a stout heart, a strong arm, sharp steel and a noble countenance’ Lucy told her.

‘Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit’ Buffy told them, for his part Xander was trying not to laugh, it was probably the adrenaline he decided.

‘What are they doing out there?’ a slayer queried, pointing out beyond the barrier where a number of the demons seemed to be doing something with the bodies of their own fallen.

‘Blood magicks’ Rebecca said with certainty. ‘They’re about to start beating on our door’ she said, ‘brace yourself, they’re good at this’ she advised Willow.

‘I’m going to check the ammo situation’ Lucy announced. ‘I mean, I beg to excuse me from your side Milady but I need to verify our stocks of powder and shot before the next onslaught of our vile foe’ she announced.

‘If I promise not to mention the swearing again will you stop talking like that?’ Buffy asked, demons she could deal with, mockery grated.

‘Yes’ Lucy agreed, turning and heading down the line to check with the other gunslayers.

‘For the record our Buffy doesn’t approve of the way they talk either, she gives them more leeway to talk like teamsters because it’s part of their unit identity’ Rebecca explained, ‘like taking teeth and claws as battle trophies, drinking too much and killing people.’

People, people?’ Buffy asked aghast.

Bad, people, people’ Connor told her.

‘Are you from the evil mirror universe or what?’ Xander asked them pointedly. ‘Did you shave off your goatee?’ he wanted to know.

Neither Connor nor Rebecca had any idea what he was talking about so they ignored him. ‘Okay so what’s that thing?’ Willow asked as a tiny radio-controlled aircraft buzzed past the castle then started flying over the demons.

‘Aerial reconnaissance’ Connor replied with relief, ‘or if we’re really lucky...’

The sound of whistling through the air finished with an explosion hundreds of yards away from the demons threw up hundreds of pounds of dirt which fell to earth. Seconds later another explosion landed at the edge of one of the blocks of demons that hadn’t yet joined in the assault on the castle.

The third shot landed right in the middle of them.

‘... artillery spotting’ Connor finished his sentence as explosions started to rain down all over the demon army.

‘Mortar fire’ Rebecca explained, ‘high explosives and white phosphorus’ she announced. ‘And a few fireball cluster spells contained in techno-mystical mortar-bomb casings’ she added as one of the explosions seemed to generate a number of glowing red spheres that headed for the most powerful demons in the vicinity, crashing into the rock demons and knocking them flying even if they lacked the power to kill one.

‘I’ve got Buffy on the radio’ Lucy called out. ‘Our Buffy’ she added redundantly, ‘we’ve got... Christ... we’ve got twelve hundred slayers getting ready to launch a counter-attack from the moorland to the East.’

‘Which makes them outnumbered at least seventy-five to one out there’ this dimensions Buffy pointed out reasonably.

‘The Chief is letting Illyria command the battle’ Lucy added, she was willing to bet that decision was taken with great reluctance.

‘Outnumbered seventy-five to one?’ Rebecca repeated. ‘Mother in charge?’ she continued, ‘piece of cake’ she said confidently as explosions continued to drop all over the demon army.

‘You’re kidding?’ Xander responded. ‘Is she that good?’ he asked.

Rebecca smiled. ‘Let me put it this way’ she said, ‘have you ever heard of Caesar, Napoleon, your namesake Alexander the Great?’ she asked.

‘Yeah’ Xander confirmed quizzically.

Rebecca grinned. ‘Morons’ she told him.
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