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.Gleaves Family Crypt – Cemetery – March 10th 1999
Annoyed that Faith hadn't bothered to turn up yet, not to mention what she could only assume was the worlds most unkempt watcher, Buffy was about to force open the crypt and go inside to look for the Amulet when a polite cough caught her attention and she span around to find Wesley casually leaning back against another tomb. ‘Given the lack of an alternate means to get back out is it really that wise to go in there alone?’ he asked.
my first experience of Tomb Raiding’ Buffy replied tersely. ‘I know what I'm doing’ she declared.
‘Really?’ Wesley responded doubtfully. ‘And what would you have done if the half-dozen vampires who just appeared over your right shoulder had followed you in?’ he asked. ‘Hidden in one of the coffins perhaps?’
Buffy's eyes widened and she slowly turned around finding six members of the El Eliminati cult stood there armed with swords. ‘EEP!’ she exclaimed as they glared at her.
‘Slayer’ one said, baring his fangs.
‘Well let's hope for their sake that their swords are as sharp as their wits’ Wesley observed before looking at his watch and frowning. ‘Where the bloody hell is Faith?’ he asked. ‘I'm going to be having some crossed words with that girl.’
‘Wesley, our problem right now is swords and specifically that we don't have any to cross with them’ Buffy told him slowly, eyes darting around for an escape route.
‘You may have a point’ Wesley conceded, still leaning back against the tomb. ‘Challenge one of them to single combat’ he advised.
?’ Buffy exclaimed.
‘They're a duelling cult, they have a sense of honour’ Wesley explained patiently. ‘Challenge one of them to single-combat’ he told her again. ‘You must excuse my companion’ he apologised to the El Eliminati, ‘no idea of the correct protocols.’
The one Wesley guessed was the leader turned to his fellows. ‘A duel with the slayer’ he said, ‘just think of it’ he said with obvious relish at the notion. ‘I will fight her’ he declared proudly.
‘I don't have a sword Wesley’ Buffy reminded him, this was nucking futs she thought to herself.
‘Yes’ Wesley agreed. ‘Could we impose and ask to borrow a blade?’ he requested of the vampires.
‘She can use mine’ one responded after a few seconds thought, throwing his two swords down in front of Buffy.
‘There you go’ Wesley told Buffy. ‘Do you mind giving her the chance to test the weights and balance before you start?’ he asked the vampire duelist who had stepped forward from his fellows.
‘Go ahead’ the vampire conceded, there was no true victory without honour he knew.
‘I suggest you do pick them up and take a few practice swings’ Wesley advised Buffy.
Buffy blinked. ‘These guys are about four centuries worth of sword-fighting practice up on me you know’ she told the watcher as she gingerly bent down and picked up the two swords she had been thrown. The shorter was obviously meant for her left hand.
‘I’m sure Mr Giles has at least instructed you with the basics of fencing’ Wesley replied nonchalantly, ‘between that and your finely honed slayer instincts I'm sure you'll do very well’ he said confidently. ‘And if not I've always got Faith’ he added, trying not to laugh.
‘You could have just helped fight them’ Buffy pointed out indignantly, swishing the longer sword through the air as the vampires spread themselves out into a rough semi-circle to watch the duel.
‘Ah but I've turned what was six against two into an even match’ Wesley replied.
‘Enough talk, let's get on with it’ the lead vampire snarled, brandishing his sword at Buffy.
‘More importantly one of the bloody idiots has disarmed himself as he armed you and Faith is now about to change the odds to three of us against four armed and one unarmed vampire opponent’ he added as Faith slammed her stake into the back of one of the Eliminati who was still carrying his swords, pulling free one of them from its scabbard just before he exploded into dust.
‘You have no honour’ the lead vampire snarled at Wesley as the others drew their swords to face their human foes, Faith grinning as she held her shiny new sword in one hand and the stake in the other.
‘None whatsoever’ Wesley agreed.
‘And no blade’ the vampire added with a smirk made all the more vicious by his fangs.
Wesley stepped forward to stand beside Buffy. ‘Well that
isn't true’ he replied, holding out his right arm and activating the hidden mechanism he was wearing on his forearm under his jacket sleeve.
Buffy tried not to gape as some kind of gadget deployed from the watchers arm becoming a decent sized sword. ‘Who are you?’ she asked. ‘James Bond?’
‘Not lucky enough at the card table’ Wesley replied, the women in his life tended to be about as lucky though, which was to say the mortality rate was disturbingly high.
A short-lived standoff ended abruptly when Faith attacked the nearest vampire to her and then two more with swords charged Buffy leaving Wesley to face their leader. The Eliminati member who had given up his swords to Buffy looked unimaginably aggrieved but stayed back for now as his brothers took up the fight.
While the girls used their natural slayer speed and strength to compensate for their relative lack of experience in sword-fighting Wesley faced off with the leader, presenting him with an ironic salute before adopting an en-garde stance. ‘I will kill you slowly’ the vampire vowed.
Wesley frowned. The vampire was likely a far superior swordsman and also surpassed him in strength and speed, with his reactions and timing still off too this was not a wise combat to try and engage in. ‘Oh bugger it’ he said and reaching into his jacket drew one of his colt automatics and promptly shot the vampire in the kneecap.
The report of the gunshot startled everyone that wasn’t Wesley and the slayers and other vampires stopped fighting and stared as the duellist he had kneecapped stumbled for a moment right before Wesley raised his aim and shot him in the head.
Bullets can’t kill vampires but although they do recover quickly from the wounds inflicted by them it still hurts to get shot. Moreover they can't exactly shrug off a .45 calibre round going through the front of their cranium and exiting out the back along with a messy mix of skull fragments and brain matter. If nothing else, to describe the vampire as stunned and temporarily incapacitated was a severe understatement as the swords fell from its hands and it nearly collapsed.
Wesley darted forward and neatly decapitated the vampire with his collapsible sword. ‘Nobody said to stop fighting’ he said loudly, the short lull in the sword-play almost immediately coming to an end as the slayers and remaining vampires started fighting to the death once more.
‘Bloody sound could have carried for miles’ Wesley muttered to himself, putting away his pistol again. That was the problem with firearms, they weren’t exactly low-key and could cause questions to be asked.
While the sword of metal clanging off metal echoed off the stone crypts and tombs of the cemetery Wesley spotted the brass casings that his pistol had ejected and bent down to scoop them up just as Buffy ran through one of her opponents, putting him out of action for a few moments at least as she withdrew the sword and enabling her to concentrate on the other vampire she was fighting.
Faith and Buffy both managed to decapitate their respective opponents almost simultaneously after inflicting several wounds leaving them with one armed and one unarmed opponent.
‘Tell Balthazar’ the armed one said, the injury caused by being run through earlier already starting to heal. ‘I will hold them off’ he said, making ready to fight both slayers to allow his Eliminati brother to escape and explain to their master what had transpired.
Pocketing the empty bullet casing and activating the mechanism on his wrist again to fold the sword back into place Wesley watched the vampire get ready to flee, his sense of honour made abandoning his comrade in battle very difficult and he was clearly dithering as he tried to decide what to do ‘We need one intact to question’ Wesley called out.
‘Busy here’ Buffy called back as both she and Faith tried to finish off the other vampire quickly.
The unarmed vampire turned and started to run. ‘I'm not in a mood to play chase right across this graveyard’ Wesley said coldly and raising his left arm he fired a small high-velocity grapnel from another device that trailed a metal cable as it hurtled through the air and punched right through the vampires back, spearing him and knocking him to the ground.
The harpooned vampire stared down in disbelief at the bloody metal now protruding from his stomach and tried to get back up, balance uncertain enough that a sharp tug on the cable still connecting them by Wesley made him stagger again.
Dusting the vampire they had been fighting Faith and Buffy turned and found their new watcher walking towards the last remaining one almost as if he was reeling him in. ‘Could one of you please subdue that thing before he recovers, runs off and drags me along for the ride’ Wesley requested wryly.
‘Okay’ Faith replied slowly, giving the Englishman a strange look before trotting over towards the vampire.
Buffy was even more shocked and surprised but she tried to hide it. ‘What the hell was all that?’ she asked Wesley as Faith dropped her sword and started repeatedly punching the vampire in the face to get it to stop trying to get up and away.
‘I believe the term is “slaying” if I recall the Handbook correctly’ Wesley replied, pulling back his jacket sleeve to expose the device which had fired the grapnel. ‘Faith would you mind unhooking the grapnel so I can wind the cable in?’ he requested, not wanting to remain tethered to the vampire.
As Faith looked at it and tried to figure out how Buffy confronted Wesley, swords still in hand. ‘Are you crazy?’ she asked.
‘No’ Wesley replied, ‘I'm just introducing a few new methods to what has become a very conservative and staid way of doing things’ he replied. ‘The industrial revolution just passed the Watchers Council and their slayers by’ he said. ‘I think it’s time to bring the slaying business kicking, screaming and bleeding into the Twenty-First Century’ he said. ‘I mean Twentieth’ he corrected himself remembering it was only 1999.
‘This is not some kind of experimental trial’ Buffy exclaimed. ‘You can't spring your pet theories on us’ she complained.
‘So you don't want one of these collapsible swords?’ Wesley asked, deploying it again from his right arm.
Buffy opened her mouth about to reply one way then stopped and thought again. ‘At no point did I criticise the collapsible sword if that's what you call it’ she said, want, want, want, she thought covetously whilst considering outfits that she could wear that would both conceal it and remain stylish.
‘I do apologise about the gun incidentally, I only carried it as a precaution’ Wesley told her, trying to sound contrite because he was now concerned that he might be trying to push things too hard and too fast and that wasn’t the plan. ‘Perhaps I panicked’ he lied.
Buffy sighed. ‘Okay, you are new to this I guess’ she replied. ‘I don't like guns’ she told him. ‘I didn't think you Brits were into those anyway?’ she queried.
‘It seemed a wise precaution to obtain one given that I read reports that vampires here occasionally carry them’ Wesley replied. ‘If I remember correctly Rupert Giles documented that the vampire Darla once tried to kill you with a pair of pistols?’ he asked.
‘Tried and failed’ Buffy replied, ‘guns aren't for the good’ she stated firmly.
‘I'll try and remember’ Wesley replied, if he was playing this right she would now be thinking he was just making rookie mistakes and he could work her around to a new way of doing things before they came to an impasse. Use of firearms would likely be a major sticking point in the future he considered, better to gradually ease the slayer into the notion that they were just another tool, like a latter-day crossbow but much more compact and convenient for putting in a fashionable handbag.
Buffy looked at her new watcher, not that anyone could replace Giles. ‘You weren't scared and I guess it was kinda clever how you messed with those vamps’ he told him. ‘First night out I guess you did okay’ she conceded, she had been angry but that was fading fast.
‘Thanks’ Wesley replied, feigning a proud little smile like she had patted him on the head and told him well-done. ‘We'd better see if the amulet is in there’ he told her. Chances were he would take some grief from Giles for tonight’s escapades after Buffy reported back to him but Wesley was prepared to look chastened and sound apologetic.
‘I'll go look for the thing’ Buffy replied, heading back towards the Gleaves Family Crypt.
‘Very good’ Wesley told her. ‘I'll help Faith with our prisoner’ he added. He already knew where Balthazar was of course from last time but it would be better if it seemed like he got the knowledge from the Eliminati captive. Also it would give him an opportunity to teach Faith how to use Holy Water to torture information out of even the most stubborn and committed vampire.
Wesley didn't think Buffy would have the stomach to learn how to take things to the next level yet but the way Faith had fallen under Mayor Wilkins patronage the first time around indicated she was just ripe for moulding into someone very useful he knew. ‘Well done Faith’ he praised her, smiling. ‘You adapted to the situation very well when you arrived and saw what was happening’ he said.
‘Thanks’ Faith replied beaming back at him. ‘You've got some nice tricky moves yourself’ she said with some small measure of admiration.
‘You were still late though’ Wesley chided. ‘Buffy or myself could have been in real trouble you know.’
‘Yeah sorry about that’ Faith apologised. ‘I'll try and get there on time in future’ she promised. ‘So I'm guessing no free beer on the watcher expense account tonight?’ she joked.
‘No’ Wesley replied. ‘But improve the timekeeping and we'll see for next time’ he said.
‘Okay Boss, sounds fair’ Faith responded.
‘Forget calling me Boss’ Wesley replied, ‘Just Wes is fine’ he told her.
‘Wes it is’ Faith agreed, smiling again before looking guilty. ‘I think I bent your harpoon thingy trying to get the cable off it’ she admitted.
Wesley sighed. ‘Slayers’ he said, shaking his head sadly. ‘They don't know their own strength’ he complained. Note from the Author:The El Eliminati were a duelling cult with a sense of honour, that's always something you can screw with! Wesley's Collapsible Sword was probably his best gadget but the mini-grapnel gun he used in Angel episode 4.22 Home comes close.Reviews are always appreciated.