Thunder at the Crossroads: Chapter 2
Disclaimer: I own nothing, if you recognize it, it belongs to someone else. I make no profit off of the following.
Thanks for reviewing. Constructive criticism always welcome, flames cheerfully ignored.
Buffy couldn't help herself; she let out a little scream as she appeared in mid-air and started falling. A problem had presented itself when Willow had started working on her version of the time travel spell. They knew when and were to go, but they knew nothing of the topography of the area at the time, well at least not enough to make a safe jump in. They could inadvertently pop up inside a tree, or a building that wasn't exactly where history said it was, or one whose existence was unknown to history. Or, even if they popped up in what was a wide open field, there was no guarantee that there wouldn't be a cow or a horse standing there. Even if they didn't appear in something, they could be spotted by someone which would almost be worse. They had knocked around the idea for over an hour when Kennedy had suggested arriving a couple of thousand feet in the air at night. The only problem would maybe be a bat flying around, and if they got hit by one, that was God saying, "Time to come home."
Giles did raise the problem of needing to use modern parachute gear, plus night vision goggles for those without night vision, not to mention radios so they could find each other after they had been scattered all over Adam's county. This took another fifteen minutes of debate and it was decided that the Slayers would dig a deep hole and bury the stuff, then they'd put a big rock on top of the hole. This led to the longest argument of the night; who would be going.
Willow said that a total of five could go. Willow had to go. A quick survey and Giles, Graham Miller and Rona were found to be the ones with the most knowledge of the Battle of Gettysburg. One of Rona's ancestors was a guide for the Underground Railroad, and the period before, during and after the Civil War was something of passion for her family. That left one more and Buffy elected herself to the slot. There was some argument that Buffy was too valuable to risk, but she pointed out that the time of her being indispensable was long past. This didn't satisfy Kennedy, who wanted to go and protect Willow, but Buffy overruled her.
A little over a day later, with the manufacture of period money, both Union and Confederate, the acquisition of two pounds of gold, and the gathering of the equipment needed, and they were ready to depart. A warehouse in the Port of LA was acquired and Willow had set up for the spell. Kennedy and Vi volunteered to be batteries for Willow so she could have some power when they got to Gettysburg but, Willow declined. This would be a delicate spell and she didn't want to chance having to meld the power that she would get from the Slayers when she did it.
She drew a circle around the travelers and then filled in the symbols needed. She began chanting in Sumerian and those with the ability felt the powers build. It got to the point were it was painful, and then Buffy found herself falling through a dark night. She let out a brief scream, then pulled her ripcord, and started looking for somewhere soft and open to land.
Buffy found a hay field that had already been harvested so she didn't even have to damage any crops as she landed. She had only jumped a couple of times and she was pleased with her first night landing. She quickly gathered up her 'chute and stuffed it into a bag they had brought for the purpose. Grabbing her radio off of her vest she thumbed the send button and sent, "Does anyone hear me?" Almost immediately Rona and Willow replied. Graham a couple of seconds later, then finally Giles who said, "I seem to be stuck in a tree, can someone get me down?"
Using a red nightlight Giles managed to guide them to him. Then it took under two minutes for Buffy and Rona to climb up, cut free him free, and lower Giles down. Spotting a nearby stand of trees they moved into it. There was a clearing in the center of the stand so it was decided this was a good place to bury the parachutes and modern gear. After digging a ten foot deep pit, they pulled their period clothing out of their backpacks and began to get dressed. Buffy, silently cursing the outfit she was being forced to wear.
They had decided to break up into two groups. The first group, Graham, Willow, and Rona, would stay on the Union side of the lines and try to find Anton Davis before he got his shot off. Team two, Buffy and Giles would bodyguard Robert E. Lee as best they were able. They're cover was that Giles was an English representative of a weaving mill that had been looking after their interests in Philadelphia, but who had been ordered south to see if he could get a better source for cotton. Buffy was his ward. He would claim that there was no one to look after her, so she had to come along. Giles figured that the Confederates would look suspiciously on the story, but the papers he had help put together were very convincing. Even if the Confederates managed to get a message to the house, the code phrase he had included in the message would cause the Watcher that was running the company to say that Rupert was a known and trusted friend. And the company did a lot of business down south during the war so it would be trusted.
Buffy was less than pleased with her role. She'd enough of being the spoiled child of the ideal rich on that long ago Halloween. She could play the part, but between the shoes and the corset she was not a happy camper. If one of these guys groped her she hoped none of his descendents were famous.
"I think we should keep two of the radios with us," Graham suggested.
"That would be a sizable risk," Giles replied
"We did kind of decide to bury all the modern stuff," Willow chimed in from where she was sitting, tying to recoup from the spell.
"I know. But, I think the risk would be justified so we can keep in communication with each other," Graham replied. "We can minimize the risk by pulling the batteries and only turning them on at predetermined times."
"Very well, I'll have Buffy keep one, you can keep the other."
Quick work with the entrenching tools, it's amazing how much earth a couple of Slayers can move when the put their minds to it, and a large rock being dropped onto the filled in hole and the two groups went their separate ways. Team one toward Gettysburg, and team two toward Chambersburg where they hoped to acquire a horse and buggy, or at least a wagon.
In Chambersburg, Giles found a man with a single horse buggy that he was willing to sell for a good chunk of their share of the gold. Buffy suspected they had just paid a Porsche price for a VW bug. Giles didn't seem too concerned though. At least not as long as the seller was in earshot, as soon as he was gone, he hurried to load the buggy with their chests and to get Buffy onboard.
"What's the rush?" Buffy asked confused.
"While I doubt that the individual who sold us this transportation will be going around bragging about it, someone is likely to notice the fact that he has acquired a windfall in gold. That being the case, they might question who would be buying something with that much gold. With the Confederate Army being as close as it is, some suspicious soul might think we are in a hurry to make contact with them. While our paperwork might hold up, and as an English national I'm not expressly forbidden from dealing with the Confederates, I doubt that I would be thought fondly of. That could lead to us spending some time as guests of the Federal Prison System. It would make guarding General Lee a bit difficult. Don't you think?"
Buffy nodded as she watched the road, cursing the corset she was wearing, and wishing that they'd already invented real shock absorbers.
Willow, Graham, and Rona stayed in the woods until well after dawn. They then wandered into town with Rona carrying Grahams and Willow's bags. Spotting some handbills that were pasted on public boards all announcing the approaching Confederate Army and a general call up to defend Pennsylvania from them. Rona was aware that many of the people in the town were giving them unfriendly glances. Spotting someone in what looked like a uniform; Graham approached him and asked, "Could you tell me where an inn would be?"
The police officer looked the trio over and said, "Gettysburg Inn has separate quarters for servants. That is probably your best bet." Graham thanked the man and taking Willow's arm he headed that way.
Entering the inn, he found several people at the front desk clamoring for the inkeeper's attention, all of them wanting to check out and be on their way before the Army of Northern Virginia moved into town. Waiting his turn at the desk Graham asked for a room for his wife and him, and room in the servant's quarters for Rona. The man at the desk looked at Rona for a second, and then nodded. He turned the book around to Graham and called for the bell boy. The boy, who introduced himself as Thomas, led them to the second floor of the inn and opened the third door and showed them inside. Graham thanked him and tossed him a nickel. The boy looked thrilled and motioned for Rona to follow him as soon as she had put their bags down. As she left Graham called, "As soon as you are settled in Rona, come back up here and take care of ours."
"Yes sir, Mr. Miller, sir," Rona replied. Seeing that the Thomas's back was turned, Rona gave Miller a look of, don't get to comfortable with this situation, remember we are going to be back in the twentieth century soon, and I am a Slayer."
Miller gave her a nod, letting her know that it was just part of the cover.
On the road, about fifteen miles away Giles was starting to get worried, he'd expected to hit the outer picket of the Army of Northern Virginia about ten minutes ago. The longer it went, the more worried he became. Going through any army's picket lines was always a delicate situation. Get a shoot first and ask questions afterward picket and you could get dead without even knowing they were there. However, when a man in a dusty butternut uniform stepped out from behind a shed on the side of the road, Giles almost let out a sigh of relief.
"That's far enough friends," the man said with a soft southern accent. "Where are you headed to?"
Giles pulled up on the reigns, "Are you part of the Army of Northern Virginia?"
"Whether I am or not isn't what I asked you." The man replied.
Giles could see that the man had sergeant stripes on his arms. He also felt Buffy stiffen slightly as two more men appeared out of the scrub on the side of the road and pointed rifles at the watcher and slayer. "I'm sorry sir; if you are part of that army then you are who I'm looking for. I'm Rupert Giles. I represent Dark Wool Textiles of London. I'm trying to get south with my ward to solve some problems my company is having getting cotton, and I thought I might be able to tag along with one of your wagon trains going south."
The picket just stared at the Englishman for a minute, then, "Sir, do you have any proof you are who you say you are?"
"Of course, I have letters of introduction from my company. We haven't been able to contact our proctors in Charlestown so I have no letter of introduction from your government. I realize it puts you in a bit of a spot, but if I could talk to an officer, I'm sure I can make it clear that I am a legitimate businessman."
The picket shrugged, "All right friend, I'll let you through, and send an escort with you. I want you to be aware though, I'm passing you through my picket and you aren't in a uniform. If you can't convince someone back there that you are an Englishman trying to get south to buy cotton, then they are probably going to figure you are a spy. I'd hate to see anything happen to your ward."
Buffy stiffened, did he just threaten them?
Giles put his hand on her thigh and rubbed. Buffy just stopped herself from turning and glaring at her watcher. Demure and dumb, demure and dumb, Buffy thought to herself; allowing a slightly frightened expression on her face.
"I assure you sir, I am on legitimate business, and I have all of the documentation to prove it."
"All righty then Mr. Giles, Johnston here will take you Major Anderson. He's General Lee's aid de camp. He'll decide if you are who you say you are. Good day to you, and you too miss," he finished as he waved one of the guys with rifles to escort them in. The man in question grabbed a horse from behind the shed that the sergeant had stepped out from and started down the road, not even really looking if Giles was following him.