“Mothers opposed to occult?” Xander sneered, he had been out of town to arrange some purchases when the whole thing had gone down, but by the looks of it, they'd be feeling the flak from it for a while. The mess had been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, finally opening Joyce Summers' eyes to her daughter's nightly activities, and the woman was most displeased with all the secrecy. She had already ripped 'Ripper' a new one, and, after hearing some details of the crap the Slayers had to go through, much to Xander's amusement she dragged Faith along with Buffy to parts unknown. Well, unknown to Giles or Xander, at any rate.“Then what are we, I mean Jono, Andrew and me? Boys against the abnormal?”
“Seriously, though, what will happen now? What about Amy?”
The Watcher grimaced. “A botched - up transformation spell on herself. This can be a tricky one to reverse under the best of circumstances, and since the simpler methods failed... I'll continue researching on this, but unfortunately, I simply cannot devote all of my attention to it. Not in this place, and with the things to come.”
Xander frowned. “The place I can understand, but...”
Giles sighed. “Allow me to tell you about an archaic exercise in cruelty called the Cruciamentum.”
Quentin Travers frowned slightly as he met the cold stare from Giles. “And why, may I ask, are you refusing to perform a time – honored rite of passage?”
Giles slid an enclosed letter across the table to the Head Watcher. “One of the reasons is that as of this moment, it is no longer my jurisdiction to do so. Another is that if I were to proceed with it, it would result at least with some serious inconveniences for the Council. And if Buffy or Faith are to come to unnecessary harm, It might well result with the Council being destroyed.”
“What rubbish are you talking about, Rupert?” Travers exploded. “Are you daft enough to threaten the council?”
“Who said I was talking to myself, Quentin? No, all I'll do is sit down at watch if it comes to this. Well, unless you go through with this and Buffy dies. If that happens, I'll have a piece of it for myself.” Giles chuckled softly. ”But even if no actions against the Council is taken, you do this, and the Council will find itself without a Slayer to watch.”
“Slayer Lehane...” Travers began.
“Faith.” Giles interrupted. “Is someone who had always had difficult time trusting others. And while I don't think it's as bad as it could have been, at least in regard of her peers, the stunt Gwendolyn Post pulled greatly diminished the trust she would be willing to place in any adult. You perform the Cruciamentum on Buffy, and I can guarantee you she'll want nothing to do with the Council.”
“No, I don't think you do, Quentin. You think I'm threatening the Council. In reality, it exactly the opposite. I'm trying to prevent it from seriously buggering itself. But if you want to make the Slayers enemies of the Council, suit yourself.” Giles stood up from his chair. “But know that your actions will make a group that until now considered itself an ally by virtue of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' turn hostile. And I assure you that neither you nor Wolfram & Hart have any idea of what they can do.”
With that, Giles turned to leave, only to have Travers give a signal behind his back, and one of the man's goons pulled a tazer and pressed it to the now ex – Watcher's neck.
“Well.” Xander spoke as he, his two male friends and Faith watched the events in the library on screen. “I do believe he made his choice. Oh well, it isn't like we didn't expect this possibility. Faith.”
“I know. I'll tail B, no matter where she goes until this is over, and help her if vamps come around.”
“Take a blaster to give her too, just in case.”
“Right.” And with that, Faith was off.
“Andrew, you keep an eye on things and provide update as necessary. Jono and I will begin detaching some droid control modules.”
“What are you planning?”
Xander sighed. “When Giles told me about this, and confirmed that Kendra is dead because of that dim – witted test of the Council, I was seriously considering destroying them by any means necessary, beginning with whoever tried to pull that on Buffy. But Giles talked me out of it. As bad the bastards may be, if I destroy them without thinking of the consequences, I'd only be helping the really
bad guys. The Watcher's Council have archives and data on demons an all other occult stuff stretching back to before written history, and has numerous connections with various groups dealing in supernatural all over the world. And what do I have? My occult database, despite the help from Miss Calendar, is probably only a little bigger than G – man's collection. And there's the fact I have no business of punishing ALL Watchers for the actions of one asshole, despite the fact he is the boss, and he wouldn't be made so if there weren't others like him. That doesn't mean that that bastard will be getting away unpunished, however. Giles told me the old Council families are quite rich.” the HRD grinned. “For needlessly endangering the life of Slayer Summers, Quentin Travers is hereby sentenced to pay the Summers mortgage, provide the money for a proper vacation for Joyce and Buffy Summers over the summer, and provide a tidy sum for Slayer Lehane to use. The number for the latter to be decided by a majority vote by those present here after determining exactly how much money Quentin Travers possesses.”
Jonathan chuckled. “Can you really pull that off?”
“Where do you think the money for all this came from? I don't think there is a computer system on this planet capable of stopping the Slicer droid programming once it links to it. Once it's finished relocating funds from Quentin Travers' bank accounts, I'll have it trace everything about the Council's dealings they have commited on electronic records. Hopefully, there will be some dirt on the bastard.”
Faith was pissed, something the vamp she was currently fighting could feel very strongly, particularly the vicious kick in the family jewels.
X had been busy the last few days, from what she understood he'd shut down about a quarter of the robots he was using in order to work some tricks with the programs he had – she'd lost the explanation at the second minute. In th end, he'd managed to get some records, and had surprised her with the news that the damn bastards had never spent a single cent on her. According to them, she wasn't worth the expense... or the effort for that matter. All the allowance she'd gotten had come first from Diana's, and then from Giles and Jenny's personal money... and when she'd confronted them, they admitted that they could only afford that because of the money Xander had been paying them to do the legal stuff for him.
Dusting the vampire, she shuddered slightly as she remembered Giles' response to some of Xander's discoveries. Damn, the man could be really scary when he wanted, and finding out that most of Slayers in the last fifty years found after they were Called had been hung to dry by the Council, and had died within months because of not receiving adequate guidance had pissed him off, big time. It turned out that at first, Buffy too had been written off at first, and only after several positive reports from her first Watcher had they changed their minds.
Her lips curling into a snarl, Faith zeroed in on another vamp to beat to a pulp...err Slay. Unlike Buffy, even the positive reports from Diana failed to change the old farts' minds about her. 'Lost cause', eh? She'd show them.
“What do you think Faith will do with this?” Giles asked, glancing at the documents regarding the brunette Slayer's newly created bank account.
“Well, she did mention something about a pair of boots like the ones Mrs. Summers used on your former boss.” Xander commented wryly. “But for the rest of it, your guess is as good as mine.”
Giles shuddered, remembering the limp Quentin had had when he'd boarded the airplane to London. Joyce had certainly not been forgiving to the man who had placed her daughter in unnecessary danger.
“The ideas of Slayers with trust issues aside, what do you think of my plan?”
The ex – Watcher frowned thoughtfully, so far the boy's ideas were yet to fail them. But while the relationship between Buffy and Xander was steadily improving lately, with the two groups working together to thwart first Gwendolyn Post, and just a couple of days ago, the Sisterhood of Jhe, he was far from convinced his first charge would accept the boy's proposition easily, as it was significantly different than the current routine.
Basically, what the boy suggested was that everyone who had chosen to get involved received a personalized copy of the equipment he could provide, with the necessary training to safely use them, as Xander had done with Andrew 'I'm a danger to myself' Wells. Xander had also proposed that nobody went out Slaying alone, and those who did go made a habit of accessing the threat and calling for backup as needed. Xander also proposed that he established a secure location where the demon hunters would gather, train and in Faith's and in the long run, probably Xander's case, live. Also, Xander wished to hire a sufficiently trained medic who would be made aware of the reality of Sunnydale, and with time, help introduce what Xander could recreate of the medical aspects of the technology available to him to the world.
And last but not least, the boy had proposed to actually pay
to everyone who chose to get involved. Giles certainly couldn't see anyone objecting to that.
“It is interesting.” Giles admitted. “and we will
need another place to work from after Buffy and Willow graduate. But I'm not so sure about your idea of hiring a trained medicinal personnel, even if it is one or two people. You know how hard – headed Buffy can be about normal people getting involved.”
Xander made a face. “Tell me about it. But I see no alternative; I cannot just construct a medical droid. While its programming would allow it to deal with some of the injuries caused by fighting demons, most f the treatments it can recommend require medical supplies that either will take me a while to produce, or I have no way of acquiring whatsoever, such as bacta.”
“I see.” Giles said. “Speaking of construction, how are your projects going?”
“Pretty good, despite the slight delay in the large construction because of the bit of hacking done lately. As it turns out, the equipment in CRD was not that bad. Only slight modifications will be needed for construction of acceptable level robotics. The remote – controlled tin cans I'm using right now may be reasonably efficient, but the lack of versatility with them is grating on my nerves. I expect that with this pace of improvement, I'll get to Protocol Droid level in five to six months. Weapons and armor for us to use are no problem, although I will need everyone's measurements for the armor. The bigger stuff... I don't know. It's too tightly bound to the electronics to say.” Xander smiled slightly. “No spaceflight for us for another year at least, I think.”
Giles chuckled. “Willow and Jenny are not going to like it.”
A weak chuckle escaped Xander's lips as he inspected the oddity in Jenny's infrared image he'd briefly noticed during the fight with the Sisterhood of Jhe. If he was right about the reason behind the altered infrared image in her lower abdomen, there was a big change coming for the Scooby Gang. Author's note: Before anyone says anything, yes, I'm bashing the Council here, big time, and I believe, for a reason. Even if I skip the 'Council Slayer = drone' cliché often present in Buffy fanfics, the Cruciamentum is, no matter how I spin it, a murder waiting to happen, as was clearly shown in the episode “Helpless” where, despite her success of killing the 'test vampire', Buffy would have died still when a vampire unhampered by a weakness such as needing pills attacked her. That being said, I must admit I screwed up a bit, forgetting that the overall BTVS universe is slightly ahead of the present tech – wise (Ted, Moloch, Buffybot) Also, I have decided that Angel's 'replacement' in LA will be a female robot. Ii may be one of the reasonably friendly Cylons from Battlestar Galactica 2003 series (model six or eight), Cameron from Sarah Connor series or maybe Guri.