Ten Gurnak demons. In the middle of the group, a very pregnant female who sat casually in one of the hotel lobby couches looking at her painted fingernails.
"Now, be a nice blonde and be quiet while we sacrifice you," said a Gurnak who called himself Bob.
Anne grimaced and hid behind Gunn.
"Now Bob," said the pregnant Gurnak. "We don't want the food to spoil early. We still have twenty minutes to go before Junior comes out." She flicked her purple shoulder length hair over her shoulder and returned her gaze to her fingernails.
"Right sweetie. Want it fresh for Junior," Bob drawled, placing his hands on his hips.
Unlike Bob and his girl, the rest of the Gurnaks did not wear clothes. And unlike the two, who looked almost human except for the spikes on their backs and their yellow slitted eyes, the other Gurnaks had thick, brown hides and spikes down their backs and on their heads. Also, they did not even look remotely intelligent. They crouched on all fours, snarling at them, leaving yellow drool all over the Hyperion's marble floors.
Gunn stared defiantly at the pack of Gurnaks, shifting back and forth on his feet nervously. The flimsy bat he had in his hands felt as effective as a limp french fry against the hulking beasts. They were so huge that they were probably 12 feet tall if they stood on their legs. His heart thudded wildly in his chest.
"Don't mind the grunts. Lower-class Gurnaks are not talkative, but they are very helpful," said Bob. "So, where's the blonde? Junior needs his food," Bob said eagerly, rubbing his hands together.
"You come near Anne and I will...I'll cut off your head and stomp on it!" Gunn snarled (at the same time amazed at the kindergarten standard taunt that came out from his lips).
"Oh, will ya?" Bob said, amused at his thin threat. "You know, I'm a nice guy. I didn't kill you for beheading me last time. I mean, it tickles and everything, but re-attaching your head is a nuisance, y'know. But, like I said, I'm a nice demon. So, I'm going to give you a choice here. You stay still while I get the blonde, or I get the grunts here to tear you apart while you try, stupidly, to stop me."
Gunn, Fred, Lorne, Lisle and J-Bob lifted their weapons.
"Oh well, I did give you a choice. Boys?" With a snarl, the Gurnaks attacked as one, loping towards them, their needle-like fangs bared.
The pack screeched to a halt at the sound of the voice.
Gunn had enough time to see a silver vial arch through the air and shatter on the floor.
"Um met ferunot telavo nadim!" shouted another voice. An achingly familiar voice.
At once there was an explosion of light; it forced Gunn to look away. He heard the Gurnaks bugle out a cry of pain.
When he could finally open his eyes, a cloud of noxious blue smoke had surrounded the Gurnaks -- including Bob. The demons hacked loudly, some shook their heads and wheeled around confusingly. Others just stood there panting.
"What the-" Bob began. But he didn't have time to finish his sentence because a blade sliced clean through his neck and beheaded him. This time, Bob did not feel ticklish. The Gurnak demon's headless body fell to the floor unmoving.
Gunn's eyes widened when Steven walked through the front doors of the Hyperion.
"Steven!" Fred cried gladly.
Angel's boy stood at the doorway, holding a dangerous looking sword, now dripping with Gurnak blood. He merely looked at them expressionlessly when Fred called his name.
Then his eyes caught the sight of a black-clad figure standing quietly beside Connor.
"Oh man," Gunn could only say.
"Remember what I told you Steven," he heard Wesley say to the boy. "We have little time."
Steven nodded, lifting his sword. With a yell, he somersaulted into the pack of Gurnak demons and immediately plunged his dagger into the belly of the nearest Gurnak. It howled in agony and collapsed, suddenly still.
This snapped the Gurnaks out of their confusion. They snarled and began to circle around the humans. "Bobbie! Bobbie! Stop playing now!" the female Gurnak was screaming, shaking Bob the headless corpse frantically. When she realised that Bob was not reanimating anytime soon, her yellow eyes blackened and she snarled at Wesley.
"It's you. Your fault. We were supposed to go to Rio with Junior tonight!" she screamed.
Wesley shrugged. "Could you settle for a hell dimension instead?" he suggested.
The female Gurnak snarled. "What the hell are you waiting for?" she screamed at the grunts. "Kill them all!"
The Gurnaks growled at her command and began to warily stalk towards the group.
"Gunn..." Fred whispered, her voice shaking. But she lifted her heavy sword higher anyway.
Beside Gunn, Anne whimpered, her eyes tearing. "Oh God," she whispered. Lisle threw a protective arm around Anne. "We're gonna get 'em, aren't we J-Bob? These demons don't scare us," she muttered.
Who the hell was she kidding? They were scared shitless.
"Get 'em!" J-Bob yelled suddenly, brandishing his sword, making a move to attack them.
**Do not move.**
Wesley's voice, or rather, his mental voice, startled them all. Fred visibly jumped, and inched towards Gunn unconsciously, her widened eyes fixed on Wesley.
"Yo dude ... how did he-?" J-Bob began. Gunn just shushed him and returned his gaze to Wesley. Their eyes met. Blue with brown. Wesley met his former best friend's eyes steadily, letting not a drop of emotion seep in them.
**Do not let them separate you. They will try to box us in.** Wesley said.
On cue, the Gurnaks started to move around them.
**They are vulnerable now.** Wesley returned his gaze towards the demons. **But only for twenty minutes. At most.** he looked at Gunn again, his blue eyes hard.
"How do we kill 'em?" Gunn whispered harshly.
Wesley gave him a lopsided grin. "Hack and slash," he said.
For a moment, it felt like old times. They had this conversation so many times before over the past two years, both of them side by side as they battled one demon creature after another. It almost made Gunn return Wesley's smile.
Wesley turned towards Anne, who cowered in a corner. **Anne. Go upstairs.**
Anne flinched and then shot the Gurnaks a nervous look. "But they-" she whispered.
**I will handle them. Go.**
She nodded, swallowing convulsively a few times. Then she closed her eyes and with a shriek, ran towards the stairs.
A Gurnak growled and loped towards Annie.
No magic. Easier said than done when furious Elemental energy is running in your veins, begging to be let out. So when Wesley saw the Gurnak leaping after Anne, he had only one option left.
He jumped, meeting the 500-pound (or more) Gurnak in mid air. The impact of it stole his breath away. When they landed on the hard marble floor, he felt as if he was broken in two.
"Wesley!" he heard Fred scream. Fred was screaming for him?
Momentarily dazed, he didn't fight back when the Gurnak brought down a heavy paw on his chest. He doubled over in pain, but the pain was enough to bring him back to his senses. Just in time to twist away from the Gurnak's gaping maw. It howled in protest as its teeth cracked against the floor.
At the same time, he heard the sounds of battle around him. He had hoped for a more organised fight, but he supposed getting down and dirty worked as well. With that, he pushed the Gurnak away with all his enhanced strength.
The beast flew through the air and landed heavily on the ground a few feet away on its back. A shower of broken marble tiles burst from the impact.
Wesley got shakily to his feet and turned to the stairs. Anne was gone, hopefully, hiding in one of the many rooms upstairs. Their job now was to ensure that not one of the beasts got up there.
The team was scattered around the hall. It made the situation dangerous. One by one the Gurnaks would finish them off -- unless they regroup together.
"Get together!" he shouted above the din. "Don't let them corner you!"
Gunn nodded frantically at Wesley's orders as he tried to avoid the Gurnak's snapping jaws. Somehow he had managed to wrest a sword out of the weapons cabinet and was swinging his sword at the Gurnak. He had managed to nick the beast's underbelly already, but it didn't seem to slow him down.
"Damn it, when are you going to die already?" he snapped, his patience running thin. With a roar, he plunged the sword into the demon's shoulder. It howled when Gunn tore the sword off, but snarled at him as viciously before. Its snarl, however, was cut off when someone punched it in the face.
"What a jaw," someone complained in clipped, British tones.
Wesley was suddenly at Gunn's side, holding his sword high. "Try to cut the head off, it works all the time," Wesley said.
Gunn ducked when the Gurnak swung a clawed paw at him. "You saw how thick that thing's neck is? Hell, I don't even see a neck."
Wesley's sword cut deep into the Gurnak's shoulder. "You're right," he said as he yanked his sword out and ducked to avoid a spurt of yellow blood. "Maybe they don't have necks. We'll try another tactic."
They exchanged an amused look. "Hack it to pieces," they both said at once. This time, Gunn returned Wesley's grin.
Raising their swords high, the two of them yelled out a battle cry and charged.
"Alright. What's a Gurnak when you have rover beasts on Pylea? I mean, cousin whathisname from the whatsthenameclan use to hunt them for fun all the time. They're twice the size of these losers, and not as pretty too."
Lisle frowned. "Don't you ever shut up?"
Lorne looked at the stalking Gurnak in stark terror. "Honey, if I go, I would like to go talkin'."
"Shut up and lift that stupid sword of yours!" Lisle barked.
"Okay, okay! I mean..." he swallowed as the Gurnak bared its fangs. "...I did kill a rabbit once."
"Oh gunk," Gunn complained, wiping off yellow mucous/blood from his jacket. "For once, just once, I'd like demons with Evian water for blood. Is that too much to ask?"
Wesley and Gunn stood over the dismembered and chopped-up pieces of the Gurnak. Wesley was bent down and lifted the Gurnak?s head by the ears, turning it this way and that, studying it in fascination.
"Yo, this ain't no time for biology lessons. We are in the middle of a battle here," Gunn muttered, disturbed at how absorbed Wesley seemed in his task.
Hell, he wasn't just disturbed at Wesley's sudden interest in the Demon's jugular -- which was hanging in little strips from its decapitated head -- but at how he had fought just now. The Wesley he remembered didn't have the strength to rip off a hulking giant of a demon's head before.
Come to think of it, he didn't have the ability to set people on fire either.
Wesley let the head drop and met Gunn's eyes. His pale face was smeared with demon blood; his eyes were blank. And they scared Gunn.
"Wesley?" Gunn asked hesitantly.
Suddenly, Wesley's eyes rolled up.
"Hey!" Gunn cried out, grabbing Wesley by the shoulders. He shook the ex-Watcher violently by the shoulders. "Snap out of it!" he yelled.
Wesley coughed and opened his eyes. His breathing was slow -- too slow. The man tried to focus his eyes as he looked at Gunn. "She's so strong. I don't think I can't keep her away," he whispered, his voice laced with wonder.
"Who is-? Wait, we don't have time for this. The Gurnaks-"
Just then, they heard Fred scream.
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