The Angel of Mons.
By Dave Turner
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffyverse, nor do I own or in anyway claim responsibility for The Great War. Which as we all know was started when Archie Duke shot an Ostridge because he was hungry.
Crossover: The Great War; 1914-1918.
Spelling Punctuation and Grammar: Written in glorious English-English. English idioms are used through out this story.
Timeline: 1914 and 2012. Takes place in the same reality as my ‘Seattle Slayers’ and ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ stories.
Words: Seven Chapter of 3000+ words.
Warnings: Some violence and minor femslash.
Summary; Dawn’s meddling with the timeline means that, unfortunately, things stay exactly as they’ve always been. This story contains Germans, some cheery marching songs and, of course, sapphists.
Sung to the tune of ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’.
“Oh! We don’t give a f**k for old Von Kluck…”
The commander of the German forces facing the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 was indeed one General Von Kluck. Another example of the Germans not seeing the joke.
The Angel of Mons.
By Dave Turner.
“Are we down hearted-NO!
Not while Britannia rules the waves-not likely!
Not while we’ve Jack upon the seas,
And Tommy on the land to face the foe.
It’s a long-long way to Tipperary,
But we’re not down hearted yet.”
Crankie Manor, Cornwall, 2012.
Sitting at his desk Giles listened to the wind moan in the chimney and rattle the window frames as if it were some kind of beast that wanted to come in. Not for the first time did he wonder why Buffy had chosen to move the entire Slayer and Guardian’s Council organisation to deepest darkest Cornwall in the southwest of England. Crankie Manor, it said on the maps, just on the northern edge of Bodmin Moor, a wild and desolate place; and, according to Buffy, just the right location to bring young women from all around the world to teach them how to be slayers.
Snorting derisively, Giles got up to pull the curtains, looking out into the half light he could see the few stunted trees and bushes waving in the wind as they were buffeted by the growing gale that was coming in off the Atlantic. Shutting out the weather he turned to face the room. Sighing he walked over to one of the many crates that littered the floor of his new Watcher’s Library. Well, it was as new as anything was in a house that was a good two hundred years old. Dark oak floorboards and floor to ceiling bookshelves were the main feature of the room, that and the enormous fireplace. Rubbing his hands together, it was starting to get a little cold now the sun had well and truly set, Giles went over to the fireplace to light the fire.
After a few minutes with matches and screwed up newspaper Giles had the start of a nice blaze going. Sighing appreciatively he warmed his hands by the fire before going over to sit in one of the high backed leather armchairs that flanked the fireplace. Nodding to himself he settled into the chair as it seemed to mould itself to his body. His right hand stretched out automatically as if to pick up a glass from the ornate side table that stood between the chair and the wall.
“Yes,” Giles nodded his head, “I think I could get used to this after all.”
A glass of Scotch or cup of tea would do nicely just there, and he could sit and study all the watchers diaries that had been recovered over the last few years. Yes, maybe Buffy hadn’t been so…so…(the word ‘insane’ played around in his mind for a moment) eccentric after all. Yes this would do very nicely for a semi-retired watcher.
Glancing around the room Giles’ eyes fell on the piles of leather bound journals and dog-eared notebooks that covered every flat surface in the library. He frowned for a moment; he really should make a start at cataloguing everything. Levering himself out of his chair he wandered over to a pile of cardboard boxes and picked up a slim volume with a dust cover that looked as if it had been made out of wallpaper. He turned the book over and there between the chocolate box style roses was a large suspicious looking brown stain.
“Oh dear,” he muttered recognising it as a likely bloodstain, “this probably doesn’t end well.”
But then most stories about slayers didn’t end well; he turned the book over and opened it on the first page. There in a bold, round hand were the words, ‘The Watcher’s Diary of Lady Joanna Hawkwood. Concerning the actions of her Slayer, the Honourable Daphne Hetherington-Squires; Summer 1914’.
Walking slowly back to his chair Giles sat down and turned to the first page; adjusting his glasses he started to read.
The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost purred its way along the sandy Belgium road in the late August sunshine. The car sent a plume of dust skywards as it sped along the road guided by the woman in the driver’s seat. She wore a long khaki coat that kept the dust and grime off her clothes; on her head she wore a cloth cap, from under which strands of blonde hair escaped to blow in the wind. Her ice blue eyes were protected from the wind and grit by goggles similar to those wore by pilots of the newfangled flying machines.
Her companion in the passenger seat could have been her double in dress, however, brunette hair blew from under her cap and her goggles protected brown eyes. While the driver of the vehicle seemed to be in perfect control. Her passenger struggled with a map that tried to escape her grasp as the wind of the car’s progress tried to rip it from her hands. The auto decreased in speed as it approached a crossroads, slowly it came to a halt and both women stood up in their seats and looked around.
“Where are we?” Lady Joanna held on to the steering wheel and studied the terrain around her.
The countryside consisted of green fields sprinkled with a few woods and small villages. In the distance she could see the grey smudge of an industrial town. To the north and east she saw great columns of dust rising over the roadways indicating that there were armies on the march. She turned to her companion and took off her goggles.
“Well?” she demanded.
By now Daphne Hetherington-Squires, Lady Joanna’s companion, had the map well and truly under control; she had achieved this by simply screwing it into a small ball and throwing it into the foot well of the car.
“I still say that Mons is that way,” she pointed in the general direction from which they had come.
“Well if you’re right,” reasoned Lady Joanna, “that dust must be the German Army…”
“And, the Count’s Chateau will already be in German hands,” Daphne pointed out.
“Oh bother!” Lady Joanna stamped her foot in frustration.
“The Kaiser’s welcome to him,” sniffed Daphne, she searched the countryside slowly with her eyes.
“You know I don’t like to leave a job undone,” complained Lady Joanna, “we were sent to ‘dust’ the bounder, and now we’ll have to wait until Sir John chases all these nasty Germans away.”
“I know my dear,” Daphne laid a comforting hand on Joanna’s shoulder, “now if those are the Germans,” she gestured vaguely towards the dust in front of them, “where are our boys and the French?”
“No idea,” Joanna took Daphne’s hand in her own and gave it an affectionate squeeze, she pointed alone the road in front of her, “maybe those cyclist fellows know?”
Screwing up her eyes against the sun Daphne looked where Joanna had pointed.
“Ummm,” she said uncertainly.
“Don’t ‘um’ dear,” instructed Lady Joanna absently, “it’s unladylike.”
With her excellent slayer eyesight Daphne could easily pick out the spiked helmets the men wore under blue-grey cloth covers, the matching uniforms and the rifles slung across the ‘cyclist’s’ backs.
“Jojo my love,” said Daphne with rising concern, “those are Germans!”
“Germans? Nonsense!” Lady Joanna looked more closely at the men who had now stopped and were in the process of climbing off their bicycles.
They started to run forward as they unslung their rifles from off their backs.
“Blast!” Joanna dropped down into her seat and revved the engine; she wrestled the gear lever into reverse as a bullet cracked over their heads; others bullets sent up little spurts of dirt around the car as the German soldiers fired at them wildly.
“That’s dashed unsporting,” shouted Daphne over the noise of the engine, “shooting at defenceless women! YOU CADS!” She shouted in most unladylike German and shook her fist at the advancing soldiers.
Letting out the clutch Lady Joanna sent the automobile shooting off in reverse, nearly sending Daphne flying over the windscreen. It was only by dint of her slayer strength and reactions that the young woman wasn’t thrown out of the car to land in an undignified heap in the roadway. After once recovering her balance Daphne turned and started to search through the luggage that filled the rear of the car.
Pushing aside fishing rods and golf clubs Daphne produced a shotgun; she turned and let fly with both barrels at the advancing Germans. One of the cyclists screamed and fell to the ground; breaking open the shotgun she ejected the spent cartridges. Searching in her pockets she found some replacements and reloaded. Looking up for new targets she glanced into the field to her right.
“Uhlans!” she warned pointing to the German cavalrymen who galloped across the fields towards them, Joanna floored the accelerator.
“Don’t forget to lead the horsemen more than you would a man on foot,” Joanna instructed as she steered the car on its high speed career away from the beastly Boche.
Letting fly at the closest Uhlan with both barrels Daphne was gratified to see both horse and rider tumble to the ground in a cloud of dust.
“HURRAH!” Daphne shouted as she reloaded her shotgun, “That’ll teach you to shoot at helpless women you rotters!”
Travelling at nearly thirty miles an hour, in reverse, and with bullets whistling above their heads or clanging off the car, Daphne searched through the luggage for a better weapon. In the meantime Lady Joanna deftly guided the car, one hand on the wheel the other on the back of the passenger seat as she looked over her shoulder hoping to find a turning place. Eventually Daphne produced her pride and joy, a Short Magazine Lee Enfield Rifle; she started to pick off the pursuing Uhlans with cold-blooded efficiency. Working the rifle’s bolt with blinding speed she brought down rider after rider until none dared to follow.
“Jojo,” she called happily, “I think you can slow down and turn around now.”
Bringing the car to a gentle halt Lady Joanna executed a perfect three-point turn. Now pointing away from the Germans she looked up at her companion.
“That was bracing!” a smile spreading across her lips.
Sitting down in her seat Daphne rested the rifle against the dashboard, she grinned at her friend before leaning over and kissing her on the lips. The two women remained locked in an embrace for several moments before breaking apart. Lady Joanna once again put the car into gear, and they raced off towards Mons leaving only a cloud of dust and a few dead Germans behind them to mark their passing.
Putting down the book Giles glanced at his watch, it was nearly eight o’clock, standing up he walked over to his desk and spent a few moments rummaging about in the bottom drawer. With a satisfied smile he produced a bottle of scotch and a glass and proceeded to pour himself a stiff drink.
Lifting the glass to his lips he walked over to one of the bookshelves that already had a few books lined up on its shelves. Running his finger along the short row he picked one out and placed his glass on a vacant shelf. He flicked through the pages until he came to the page he wanted where he ran his finger down a list of names.
“Aha!” he muttered to himself as he read the entry, “Lady Joanna Hawkwood…joined the council in 1900…disappeared in 1923.”
This was odd, he thought, if she disappeared how come they still had her diaries, or at least one diary. Picking up his glass he headed back to his chair. Maybe Lady Joanna’s narrative would give some clue as to what had happened to her.
Driving into the outskirts of Mons the two intrepid motorists came to a bridge across the Mons-Conte canal on the north side of the town. The bridge was one of the turntable type that was common in this part of Belgium and France. They found it in the open position and were unable to cross. A khaki clad British soldier shouted to them that if they wanted to cross to the south side of the canal they’d have to go further on along the canal until they came to the railway bridge.
Turning the wheel Lady Joanna drove them along a narrow road between rows of deserted workers cottages until they came to a level crossing where the road crossed the railway line.
“I hope there’s no trains running today,” she drove the Silver Ghost out onto the railway line and headed towards the bridge.
“Well, if there are,” Daphne’s voice trembled in time with the vibrations made by the car’s wheels passing over the railway sleepers, “I hope they have a smoother ride than this, OH!”
The car’s wheels bounced between two sleepers with a particularly savage bump.
“Are you all right?” Lady Joanna gave her companion a concerned look.
“Hmm?” Daphne gave Joanna a wicked grin, “Actually I’m finding all this bouncing around rather, umm, stimulating!”
All too soon, for Daphne anyway, Lady Joanna brought the car to a halt by a sandbagged emplacement that held a machinegun and its crew. A soldier with a rifle over his shoulder having waved them to a halt walked over to stand by the car. He touched the fingers of his right hand to the peek of his cap politely before speaking.
“Parlay vous English?” he spoke slowly with a strong Somerset accent.
“Yes young man,” replied Lady Joanna in her ‘no-nonsense’ tone of voice, “both I and my companion speak perfectly good English thank-you.”
“Yes ma’am,” the soldier straightened to attention, “sorry ma’am!”
“You weren’t to know,” replied Lady Joanna more kindly, “now were can I find your commanding officer?”
The soldier pointed across the bridge as he gave directions before stepping back and saluting. Joanna drove across the bridge and along the railway line until she came to a place where she could turn off. Noticing the glassy eyed look and the satisfied smile of her friend, Joanna shook her head, bouncing along railway lines did absolutely nothing for her.
A short time later.
“I simply can’t have two women wandering around getting under foot,” blustered the Major who was in charge of the British unit covering the railway bridge, “you do know there’s a war on don’t you?”
“I certainly do,” Joanna replied frostily, “we were shot at by Germans earlier today.”
“There!” Major Hicks turned sharply to face the two women who had been shown into his command post, “My point exactly…the front line is no place for women.”
“We’re here on official business Major,” Joanna held out her hand to Daphne who produced a letter from her handbag and handed it to Joanna, who, in turn handed it to the officer, “from Sir John French himself,” she announced smugly.
Examining the letter Major Hicks muttered crossly to himself before showing it to another officer. The more junior officer shrugged his shoulders and nodded his head.
“Certainly looks like Sir John’s signature, sir.”
“Bloody-hell,” Major Hicks looked up and remembered there were ladies present, “Hmm, sorry, what?” he shook his head resignedly, “It seems that Sir John thinks its alright for English women to go gallivanting about the battlefield, so I suppose I’ll have to follow his orders. But, bear in mind I’m expecting the Germans here tomorrow morning and I expect there’ll be a battle…so what can I do to help?”
“Thank-you Major,” Joanna smiled gracefully as she retrieved her letter and passed it back to Daphne, “we don’t want much and I won’t keep you from your battle. All we need is somewhere to rest for the night, maybe something to eat and oh, some petrol for my motorcar,” Lady Joanna fluttered her eyelashes and smiled at the officer.
“Well, humm, let’s see what we can do,” the Major turned to the other officer in the room, “Who’s billeting officer George?”
“Lieutenant Giles, sir,” replied ‘George’, “shall I send for him?”
“Yes do that please,” Major Hicks smoothed down his moustache, “I’ll put you into the hands of Lieutenant Giles our billeting officer, he’ll be able to deal with all your needs. Now if you’ll excuse me?”
Giving Lady Joanna a stiff little nod, Major Hicks turned back to his maps.
“What a funny man,” whispered Daphne as they walked back out into the daylight.
“Oh I don’t know,” Joanna turned her head slightly to speak to her friend, “I expect he knows what he’s doing and us being here is an un-needful complication for him.”
At that moment ‘George’ appeared outside the command post and led the two women to where they could find Mr Giles.
The officer, Lt Giles, was a tall, thin fair haired bespectacled young man who took great pride in his work. He soon found Joanna and Daphne a room on the top floor of one of the workers cottages a little behind the front line. He showed them into the master bedroom.
“I’m sorry but you’ll have to share the bed,” he explained innocently.
“I’m sure we’ll manage somehow,” Joanna cast Daphne an impish smile.
“Jolly good,” continued Mr Giles absently, “you’re welcome to eat at the officer’s mess a couple of doors down the road,” he pointed vaguely towards one wall. “It’s nothing much, but we’d be grateful for a little female company and the foods not so bad,” he smiled self-consciously. “Now, petrol for you motor,” Mr Giles shook his head sadly, “that might be a little bit more tricky…but I’ll see what I can do.”
“We have every faith in you Mr Giles,” smiled Joanna as she ushered him to the door, “thank-you.”
Shutting the door behind the young officer, Joanna giggled quietly as she rested her back against the door.
“I don’t know what we shall do,” she sighed, “one bed between two…however will we manage?”
“I dare say,” Daphne crossed the room to embrace Joanna, “we’ll think of something.”