12.Jest send in your Chief an' surrender,
it's worse if you fights or you runs:
You can go where you please,
you can skid up the trees,
but you don't get away from the guns!
'Screw Guns'; R Kipling.The Residency at Khalabar.
“The gates have gone!” Bungdit Din cried in triumph, “ATTACK! KILL! KILL!”
At his order hundreds of Burpas rushed towards the broken down gates. Inside the residency compound Buffy looked up from reloading her rifle to see the Burpas surging towards her and the other defenders. Lifting her rifle to her shoulder she started to shoot down the blood-crazed fanatics. Unfortunately the Burpas only had to rush forward fifty or sixty yards before they gained the cover of the residency wall. Although the defenders rifle fire cut down scores of tribesman it wasn't enough to halt the momentum of the Burpa charge.
“FIX BAYONETS!” Yelled Sergeant-Major MacNutt as the first Burpas forced their way into the compound.
A frantic scrimmage developed at the gates with Buffy at its centre, sword wielding Burpas threw themselves at her and the few Highlanders who defended the gate. Steel crashed against steel as swords crossed with bayoneted rifles. In the midst of the struggle Buffy plied her deadly trade, bayoneting Burpas as they rushed at her or smashing in their skulls with the steel butt plate of her rifle. As the mound of dead and dying Burpas rapidly grew around her feet so too did those of fallen Highlanders as the Burpas slowly gained ground, there were just too many of them for even Buffy to stop. Slowly, reluctantly, Buffy and the surviving Highlanders gave ground.
“Well done, my beautiful warrior!” exalted the Khasi as he joined Bungdit Din at the blood splattered remains of the gateway.
“Come!” laughed Bungdit Din as he raised his great tulwar, “We will put them all to the sword!”0=0=0=0
Inside the residency dining room dust swirled about not unlike a London fog. However, the dinner guests still sat at their places around the dinner table as if nothing strange was happening. Another volley of shells hit the residency roof causing the chandelier above the dining table to come loose and crash down onto the table itself crushing a floral display as it did so. It was at this point that Reverend Belcher's nerves finally gave out; with a cry of fear and alarm he disappeared under the table. The fall of the chandelier also caused Captain Keene to frown and attempt to brush some of the plaster dust from his uniform with his serviette. Rising to his feet he turned to look at the Governor.
“I was wondering if I might pop outside for a few minutes, Sir, just to see if there's anything's happening?” he asked calmly.
“But you haven't had your pudding yet, Captain,” observed Sir Sidney.
“Oh, and its strawberry mouse,” Lady Ruff-Diamond pointed out.
“Oh, well in that case...” smiling self-consciously Captain Keene retook his seat.
Sitting beside Major Shorthouse, Kali looked around in concern, it was all very well sitting around with a stiff upper lip, but outside there was a battle to be fought. Feeling all the death and destruction call to her, Kali shifted uncomfortably in her seat, she wanted to go out there and fight, but fight for who...or maybe that should be 'for whom'? On the one hand the tribesmen were her followers, but they'd been mislead by the Khasi. On the other hand the woman she was attracted to was out there fighting for her life while she was sitting there eating this rather good strawberry mouse. Coming to a decision, Kali made up her mind; she'd finish her strawberry mouse and then
go out and fight.0=0=0=0
Outside in the compound, Sergeant-Major MacNutt had formed a firing line covering the parade square in front of the residency. For a time the Highlanders, encouraged by the sound of one of the regimental pipers playing his instrument, held the Burpas at bay. The Burpas took up position on the walls and were able to shoot down on the exposed Highlanders. Once again the Highlanders started to give ground as their loses grew. As soon as the Burpas sensed the Highlanders give way a little they rushed forward once more eager to join in hand-to-hand combat.
A great melee swirled about in front of the residency, despite Buffy and MacNutt's best efforts the defenders were starting to lose cohesion. If that happened the Burpas would gain the upper hand and all would be lost. There was nothing else for it, Sergeant-Major MacNutt admitted as he shot down yet another Burpa with his pistol. He was going to have to disturb the Governor and the officers while they were still having dinner!
“Corporal Summers!” MacNutt called out over the clash of weapons and the screams of dying men.
“Sergeant-Major!?” in an instant Buffy was at MacNutt's side.
“You hold them here, I'll go and get help,” MacNutt was just turning away from the battle when Buffy called him back.
“Hey!” Buffy cried as she grabbed hold of MacNutt's tunic and held him in place, “This 'going for help', its not another way of saying, 'I'm running away' is it? Coz if it is I'm going to be seriously ticked off!”
“No, no,” MacNutt insisted, “I'm going to get the officers.”
“Oh,” Buffy smiled guiltily, “that's okay then.” Letting go of the Sergeant-Major's tunic, Buffy turned to face the Burpas once again and skewered a tribesman with her bayonet, “Gotcha!”0=0=0=0
Entering the dining room through a shell hole in the wall, Sergeant-Major MacNutt walked over to the Governor, came to attention and saluted.
“Excuse me for butting in Sir,” MacNutt said as he stood rigidly to attention.
“That's all very well, Sergeant-Major,” Sir Sidney looked up from his strawberry mouse, “but we have got a door, you know.”
“I'm sorry, Your Excellency, but this was rather urgent,” MacNutt explained.
“Oh alright then,” Sir Sidney sighed tiredly, “what is it?”
“I'm afraid the Burpas have broken into the compound, Sir,” MacNutt reported crisply.
“That's a dashed bad show,” Captain Keene commented.
“Perhaps we should go out and have a look,” Sir Sidney suggested, as he rose to his feet, “if the Ladies will excuse us?”
“Oh, of course dear,” Lady Ruff-Diamond called from the other end of the table, “if it's important.”
“Major Shorthouse,” Sir Sidney looked across the table towards the Major, “my revolver if you please.”
“Of course, Sir,” the Major got to his feet and collected both his own and the governor's revolvers from an ornamental box on the shelf over the fire place.
“Have you got yours dear,” Sir Sidney called to his wife, “just in case?”
“Yes dear,” Lady Ruff-Diamond pulled a small, silver plated revolver from her cleavage and smiled at her husband.
“Try to save the last bullet for Mr Belcher,” Sir Sidney suggested, “after all he is our guest. Chindi, if you please.”
The Indian servant opened the door and Sir Sidney led Major Shorthouse and Captain Keene out to where the battle raged.
“Don't worry!” cried Belcher from under the table, “We'll save you some cheese and biscuits.”
Lady Ruff-Diamond sat at the foot of the table, revolver in hand and smiled reassuringly at her female guests. While Princess Jelhi appeared to be copying the British calm, Kali felt she had to do something, standing up she turned to Lady Ruff-Diamond.
“Lady Ruff-Diamond,” Kali began, “thank-you for a most excellent dinner, but I simply must go and find my one true love.”
“Of course dear,” Lady Ruff-Diamond replied, “'love will out', as they say. You run along and find your sweetheart, but be careful of all those nasty Burpas.”
“I will,” Kali started to move towards a smashed in window, seeing a sword hanging from the wall she reached up and brought it down, testing its balance, Kali smiled, “It is not I who needs to be fearful of the Burpas, it is the Burpas who should fear me! AYEEEEE!”
With a shout Kali rushed out through the broken window and into the fray.
“Strange girl,” Lady Ruff-Diamond commented to Princess Jelhi before asking, “So, you and Captain Keene are planning to get married, have you given any thought to what sort of service you'll be having?”0=0=0=0
Outside in the compound, although her bayonet dripped with Burpa blood and the pile of corpses grew around her feet, Buffy knew that the garrison couldn't hold out for much longer. Things had to be serious, the Governor and the Officers had joined in the fight, but even with their help there were just too many Burpas. Hearing screams and cries of alarm, Buffy looked over to her right to see great fans of blood spray into the air as severed limbs span and twisted as they flew through the air.
“BUFFY!” cried Kali as she came to a halt next to where Buffy stood, “My love!”
Looking behind Kali, Buffy saw how the goddess had left a trail of dead and dying tribesmen in her wake.
“Its good to see you too,” Buffy admitted.
“All is lost,” Kali cried as she severed a tribesman's arms from his body with two economical swings of her sword, “let us away!”
“No I can't,” Buffy thrust her bayonet into a Burpa's stomach, “In, disembowel, disengage!” she chanted as the Burpa groaned and fell to the ground, “I have to stay here.”
“But why?” Kali sliced one Burpa in two from his head down before turning and cutting another in twain at the waist.
“You wouldn't understand,” Buffy called driving the butt of her rifle into the face of a Burpa and shattering his skull.
“Try me,” several more Burpas fell to Kali's blade in various bloody and gristly ways.
“I'm the Slayer I have my duty,” Buffy tried to explain, “I have to do this.”
“Then if you stay,” Kali struck down a lone Burpa who suddenly found he had no arms or legs, “I stay, we fight together!”
Standing back to back the two woman fought on as more and more Burpas rushed into the compound.0=0=0=0
Sword held high and uttering a blood curdling warcry a Burpa warrior rushed up to Sir Sidney as he stood on the residency steps.
“You wish to see me?” Sir Sidney asked calmly as he produced his revolver from behind his back and shot the native in the head before he could bring his sword into play.
A moment later Captain Keene ran up to Sir Sidney and stood for a moment as he reloaded his pistol. He'd been down into the very heart of the melee encouraging his men and shooting down the odd Burpa as they rushed at him.
“Bit of a sticky wicket, I'm afraid Sir,” Captain Keene reported to Sir Sidney, “looks like we're done for this time; there's just too many of them.”
“Not yet we're not,” Sir Sidney had noticed that the Burpas had drawn back as they readied themselves for the final rush; just for a moment the British forces were unengaged. “Captain, have the men form a single rank in front of the residency.”
“Sir?” Captain Keene couldn't see how that would help; shouldn't they withdraw into the residency itself and sell their lives dearly?
“Line 'em up!” Sir Sidney repeated, “Facing the enemy.”
“Well if you insist Sir,” Captain Keene shrugged before going to organise the men.
The Highlanders formed up in front of the residency as the Burpas gathered themselves for the final attack that would free Khalabar from the British yoke.
“STOP!” Sir Sidney yelled, the sound of his voice brought the Burpas to a confused halt, “COMPANY!” Sir Sidney had been a Sergeant-Major in his younger days and his voice carried easily across the battle field. “KILTS...FRONT!”
Bending the surviving Highlanders grasped the hems of their kilts.
“GO ON!” Urged the Khasi as he came to stand in the front ranks of the Burpa horde, “There are no Devils in Skirts to frighten you now!”
“HANDS...RAISE!” the sound of Sir Sidney's voice drifted across the compound to the Burpas as the Highlanders stood up lifting the hems of their kilts as they did so.
“AAAAAH!” screamed the Burpas as they saw what the Highlander's kilts had been hiding.
Screaming in terror the Burpas turned about and fled in full retreat casting away their weapons as they did so and leaving only the Khasi and Bungdit Din to face the enemy.
“Come back! Come back,” the Khasi called after the rapidly departing tribesmen, “There's nothing to be afraid of!”
Turning back to face the British line, the Khasi realised for the first time what he was really facing. His eyes roamed along the line of raised kilts until they came to rest on one short soldier. The Khasi's eyes grew wide in a mixture of fear and wonder; a woman!? If British women could fight like devils, what chance had he got of driving the British from India?
“Oh, I don't know...I think its time to leave,” The Khasi told Bungdit Din as they turned to follow the tribesmen out the gate.0=0=0=0
“Buffy my love,” Kali leant on her sword as she stood next to Buffy, “the battle is won, your duty here is completed, let us away from this place and start our new life together as we discussed.”
“Well,” Buffy looked at Kali and smiled, “I suppose I could get used to more girl-on-girl action,” she sighed, “its not as if I've had much luck with guys over the years.”
“Not the most fulsome agreement a goddess wants to hear,” Kali smiled, “but it'll do for now...and I promise once you've gone 'goddess' nothing is ever as good.”
“Someone else told me that once,” Buffy said sadly, “a long, long time ago.”
“They did?” Kali shrugged, “But this time it'll be true, goddess of sex as well as death here.”
“Yeah, I never did get the entire sex and death thing,” Buffy said as she smoothed down her kilt.
“Its a circle of life thing,” Kali explained with a shrug.
“Oh,” Buffy had thought of something, “if I go with you won't I be deserting?”
“I wouldn't worry about it, my beautiful Buffy,” Kali started to lead Buffy away from where the surviving Highlanders were clearing up the Burpa bodies and tending to their own wounded. “They won't want the world to know that a woman...no...two women fought here. They'll probably put you down as 'Killed in Action' and give you a posthumous medal or something.”
“I suppose you're right,” Buffy agreed her voice suddenly becoming lighter, “lets go. I've got a place in town where I keep some saris. I'll go and change then we can get on with our lives...you got any money?”
“Money?” Kali sniffed haughtily, “A goddess does not need money.”
“Sister,” Buffy sighed, “you've got a lot to learn about being human.”
“Whatever,” Kali replied, “you go and change I'll meet you there in a little while, I have some business to finish.”0=0=0=0The Khasi's Palace.
“Take these!” The Khasi rushed into his treasury and pointed at several boxes of gold coins; his servants rushed to obey their overlord.
Things had not gone as he'd hoped, but if he could get himself and the greater part of his not inconsiderable fortune into the hills and up to Bungdit Din's stronghold he'd be safe. Who knows in a few years he might be able to make his peace with the British and come back to his palace here in Khalabar. After all wasn't his own daughter about to marry that Captain Keene? That had to count for something. Stepping out of the treasury, the Khasi made his way to his throne room, there were a few papers there that he would need. Rushing across the polished marble floor, The Khasi was almost at his throne before he saw The Goddess standing there in all her bloodthirsty glory.
“AAGH!” The Khasi cried out in alarm as he skidded to a halt just yards from his throne.
“What did I tell you?” Demanded the goddess as she moved menacingly towards the Khasi.
“I...I...” stammered The Khasi finding the words wouldn't come; the goddess was in her full goddessly aspect, multiple arms, weapons, fangs, eyes and truly magnificent breasts.
“I told you not to raise the tribes,” Kali took another step towards The Khasi as he trembled in front of her, “but you disobeyed me and now the tribes have been decimated for no gain while you prepare to scurry off to the safety of the hills.”
“I'm...I'm...sorry Goddess,” The Khasi sank to his knees in front of the vengeful goddess.
“SORRY!?” Kali's shout made the entire palace tremble, “You're sooo
Raising all four of her swords, Kali brought them down on the unfortunate Khasi and cut him into neat, thin slices. When the bloody execution was completed, Kali changed back into her human form as she stood over what remained of the Khasi of Khalabar. Time to move on, she told herself; not only had she to introduce Buffy to the delights of...what had she called it? Girl-on-girl action, she also had to start working for women's rights and Indian Independence.0=0=0=0A Hospital room in London, 1966.
“Buffy my love!” Kali burst into Buffy's private hospital room, “We won!”
“We did?” Buffy asked weakly from where she lay against her pillows, she was old and she was dying.
“Yes!” Kali strode across the room to sit on the edge of Buffy's bed; she looked old too, but she was still a goddess and she looked old for appearances sake only. “Yes the National Unity Party has won the election and Britain has her first female Prime Minister. The Queen will soon be calling Mrs Hacker to the palace to invite her to form a new government!”
“Good,” Buffy smiled tiredly, “Who would have thought that getting a woman Prime Minister would take so long...” she sighed, “...pity I won't be around to see a woman as President.”
“Yes,” Kali nodded sadly as she took Buffy's hand in her own, “back when we started out we thought Indian Independence would take all the time, but...”
The goddess' voice faded to nothing as she looked down at the love of her life. Kali knew her lover was dying, after all she'd been the goddess of death and sex (she'd always enjoyed the 'sex' part the most, although all the fighting had been fun too), she could feel Buffy slipping away from her even now. As she looked down at Buffy, Kali saw not the grey haired old lady but the blonde haired girl who had been so full of life when they'd first started to live together. She remembered all the times they'd made love, all the things they'd done and achieved together; now all that would come to an end because Buffy was mortal. What made it worse was that there was nothing Kali could do to stop the natural order of things from happening. Not even the goddess of death could stop nature from taking its course.
“You know there's nothing I can do?” Kali asked quietly as her eyes started to blur with tears.
“There's nothing I'd want you to do,” Buffy pointed out, “I've done more than I ever dreamed possible, I've lived longer than I ever imaged I could. I even found someone to love...” Buffy smiled, “...it's been fun...I wouldn't change anything we've done for another five hundred years of life...” Buffy saw the tears as they ran down her goddess' face, “...no tears Kali, it'll make your eyes all red...”
With a sigh, Buffy closed her own eyes and went to sleep for the last time. Standing by her bed, Kali was aware of the doctors and nurses as they rushed into the room. They could do nothing, her lover was dead and there was nothing even she, a goddess, could do...
“You're a goddess,” Kali told herself, “but there must be something...”
Watching as the doctors gave up trying to revive Buffy, Kali thought hard; she couldn't stop death but she might be able to turn it a side it for a while. Maybe...the idea came to Kali in a flash. It would probably take all her remaining power; as the years had past the number of her followers had dwindled. With every one less worshipper, Kali's powers had faded, but maybe she could make one last effort to save her lover. Perhaps she could send Buffy back to her own reality, send her back to where she was supposed to be before she fell through the Hellgod's portal.
The doctors turned at the sound of Kali's body hitting the floor, they rushed to help the old woman but found there was nothing they could do for her. No doubt stricken by the death of her life long partner the old Indian woman's heart must have given out and she'd died there next to her friend's bed.
Standing over her own body, Kali watched as the doctors tried to 'save' her. Shrugging Kali moved away from all the medical action. As she moved she became more 'real'. It felt strange to be back in her own body with its four arms, three eyes and extra teeth, but at least her magnificent breasts hadn't changed. Stopping in the doorway she glanced back over her shoulder and looked with regret at her lover's body. It had been so much fun living with Buffy even if it had only been for sixty or seventy years. But at least Buffy was now where she was supposed to be, back in her own reality with her friends and family. A thought struck Kali as she walked out of the room and down a corridor sending nurses and doctors running and shrieking at the sight of her.
Now Buffy was home, Kali supposed that she'd have to go home too, but what would be waiting there for her? Buffy had her friends and family waiting for her, Kali only had a bunch of lame-brain gods waiting for her. No doubt they'd try and throw her a surprise party, Kali hated surprise parties.0=0=0=0
Waking up in the dark, Buffy knew with a certainty that couldn’t be denied that she’d died and she’d gone somewhere where she’d been loved. That somehow she was back in her own world and she was lying in her coffin. With a strength born of the slayer added to her panic at being buried ‘alive’, Buffy fought her way out of her coffin and towards the surface.The End.