Disclaimer: I do not own any of the BtVS characters in this story, and make no profit from them nor intend any infringement of the original copyright of Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon. I do own all of the Kamels and related characters and the world they live in, but I make no profit from them either, and I certainly don't intend to infringe on myself. Unless it tickles.
Warning: This story contains heavy smoking and painfully literal logic.
It was barely a half an hour's walk to the cave.
'F I'd just kept walking, I would've never had to lay eyes on the bloody nutters, Spike thought ruefully. Looking down over the ridge that had been nearly invisible until they were nearly on top of it, he could see the cave-face nestled in the opposite wall of a small arroyo. Maybe five meters across, he figured. Which could be a problem, considering the three guards standing around in front of the thing. He turned to see if the Kamels would at least have enough intelligence to plan out some kind of flank attack and take the guards from two sides. He could have known better.
While he'd been studying the cave, the others had skipped straight to readying their weapons, and before he'd even finished turning around, Merl snapped the barrel of his shotgun shut and waved it around in the air, shouting “Fire an' smoke 'em, give 'em a poke-em! Yeehaw!”*
Spike watched incredulously as the four charged over the ridge and straight for the cave. Merl fired two shots within the first two steps (both missed) and had to stop and reload. John Boy was waving his blowtorch around like a homicidal exterminator with a very bad case of Tourette's, its black flame bobbing and weaving like a drunken firefly. Mr. Greene lobbed a can of vamp-away at the guards as a grenade, but it didn't even dent on impact and all it accomplished was that they fled a bit off to the side to escape the smell. Hannah, suddenly faster than her entire family combined, was already more than halfway there when she launched into some kind of twirling assault that had her blessed knives spinning and wobbling like a flying buzzsaw, its axis bending first one way, then back the other. Apparently unimpressed, the lead guard started running forward to meet her, with a fairly lethal looking katana poised for combat. What they did then went by so fast that Spike couldn't even see how it was possible. One minute Hannah and the vampire were charging each other head on, knives flashing and sword held high, and the next, the vampire's head was rolling across the dirt until the demon was consumed and a reddish-white tumbleweed of dust blew off across the desert. And Hannah... was on the ground rubbing her butt.
“I think I tripped over a rock!” she complained. “Nearly cut meself an ever'thing!”
Sitting on the ridge top, Spike couldn't believe his ears. Advantage of surprise, enemy outnumbered, and the only kill the four of them could manage was when the whirling dervish tripped on a rock and accidentally decapitated the enemy. Of course, the remaining guards were looking slightly nervous about their pal's unexpected end, but no one was taking advantage of it. Merl and Mr. Greene had both stopped to help Hannah back to her feet while John Boy 'stood guard', which mainly involved taunting the guards and waving his blowtorch some more. Spike was almost ready to get up and go help them when the echoing sound of slow clapping pulled everyone's attention back to the cave.
Standing backlit in the mouth of the cave, Spike could only just make out his yellow eyes and gunslinger profile before the newest arrival spread his hands wide, all friendliness and forgiveness.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen!” he said, letting his voice carry. “And the lovely Miss, of course. There is no need for fighting, my friends! We are only simple nomads – eating not but rodents and small creatures, yes?”
“Ha!” Merl shouted excitedly. “Yeah, sure'n you's all a real peck o' pickled peppers. Why I bet that there portal back in that cave o' your'n's prob'ly goes right straight ta El Dorito**, too! Must be real nice there for the Timeless One!” The last two words he shouted triumphantly while his family whooped and jeered, just in case the vampires hadn't already caught the gist of it.
The vampire steeped his fingers before his mouth, making a ponderous and menacing advance from the cave mouth. “I see, I see. You are, how to say, pig-dogs, yes? Pig-dogs -” Without realizing it, he stepped too close to Mr. Greene's errant vamp-away can and had to stifle a nasty sounding gag-reflex while he kicked the can away. Straightening, he forced his upper lip to abandon the disgusted twist it had adopted and recomposed himself. “Pig-dogs, come to root out the great truffle of the Timeless One! It is funny, you know, such as you who would think yourselves worthy to even enter the same space as He!”
Hannah muttered something about why vampires would ever want anything with truffles, but it was Mr. Greene's challenge that really caught everyone's ear. “Just who d'you think y'are now, toothy?!”
The vampire smiled. “Who I am, you wish to know? Yes. My name is, it is not important. If you are wishing, you may call me... Bob.”
“Bob?!” Spike repeated, finally bored with watching the Kamels not kill anything. The vampire's eyes snapped towards him and narrowed in suspicion. Something smelled odd.
“Yes, it is title, you see. It means I am big special assistant to the Timeless one. Very important.”
“Really?” Spike asked as he walked over to stand next to the Kamels. “You sure it doesn't stand for 'Body Odour Boy'? I mean, I can smell you from here, Pig-man. You never heard of a bath?”
“You...! You would dare!” Bob's nostrils flared at the insult, and then, all at once, he realized what he smelled, no, what he did not smell about this... thing. His eyes widened. “You are -”
“Done talkin', Buddy!” Hannah interrupted. Bob stared at her in confusion and then exploded into dust, leaving a single blessed silver knife to fall to the ground. John Boy charged at the guard on the right and shoved the flame of his blowtorch in his face, sending a screaming ball of black fire running up the other bank of the arroyo and into the night, and a near miss from Merl's shotgun sent the last vampire scurrying off after it.
Spike was torn between being almost half-impressed and wondering what would have happened if 'Bob' hadn't dusted before he could finish his sentence. Not that he thought any of them could really hurt him, unless the bint managed it by dumb luck, but he didn't fancy smelling of that poison shite spray all the way back to LA. As usual, though, he found he didn't really care that much, so instead, he just followed the lunatics into the cave.
Out of the darkness beside the cave, another vampire stepped into the light. Curling his nose up at the can of vamp-away by his feet, he kicked it high over the ridge, and then stared into the cave after them.
“Go ahead, humans. Put yourselves right into the Timeless One's hands – you'll all be dead and drained before you can say -”
Suddenly a hand tapped him on the shoulder, and he spun in shock just in time to see an impossibly black glove shove the nozzle of the vamp-away can into his mouth and force his jaw shut with an undercut to the chin. The vampire's eyes boggled and his skin literally turned green before exploding into a toxic cloud of noxious gas and vampire dust. The Marlboro Man coughed a little as he waved the cloud away from him, but quickly enough, he took the vampire's place in front of the cave and smiled around his cigarette as he lifted the lighter to his mouth.
“Walkin' corpses even got more smarts than them bird-brain Kamels,” he chuckled, blowing out white smoke. “Poor pukes ain't got the slightest idea what's gonna happen to 'em, Kamel or Vamp, when the Marlboro Man comes cal-”
“You wear pink leg-coverings.” Marlboro spun instantly, shocked that someone had actually snuck up on him, but he couldn't stop himself from glancing self-consciously at his bare socks. Damn that Greene an' his pestulatin' concoction!
“They's orthopediatric,” he said defensively, looking at the strange demon in front of him.
“They have hearts and unicorns on them.” The creature tilted its head curiously, but before he could think of anything to say he was knocked straight over the cave and beyond the ridge by a deceptively small, fragile looking fist.
* “Fire an' smokem, give 'em a poke-em!” has, for reasons entirely incomprehensible to most all outsiders, been the trademark battle-cry of the Kamel clan for generations. Many theories have been considered – or would certainly have been considered if anyone really cared about the insane gibberish constantly spewed by the Kamels throughout history – but none has ever seemed particularly convincing, except the notion that it does, in fact, mean precisely what it says. Although, why the Kamels would ever have decided that vampires may be killed by poking, we cannot say.
** Although many early generations of American hunters were fascinated by the tale of El Dorado and its streets lined with gold, their increasing isolation from mainstream society and the accompanying steady decline in the usefulness of materials like gold caused the legend to die out almost completely among the hunting families. However, the hunters' constant yearning for hope of a better (or maybe just livelier) place and stubborn refusal to bow to nutritional sanity soon brought about tales of the hunters' true Mecca, the city of El Dorito, where the rivers of moonshine flow freely and the streets are paved with artificially flavored food substitutes.
Well this is just bloody brilliant, Spike thought. Considering the quality of the henchmen outside, he hadn't really been expecting anything much from Old Time Impaired, but that was turning out to be another great disappointment. A chaos of noise echoed down from the chalky ceiling of the misty cave that the portal had brought them to. Merl had accidentally shot himself in the foot when the air in front of the white-haired old vampire somehow twisted around to aim the bullet back at him. John Boy was desperately trying to get his blowtorch to do something, but the sinister black tongue of fire it had sported outside the portal was now frozen solid and that didn't look to be changing anytime soon. Mr. Greene, having realized only too late that he'd left his weapon outside the cave was mostly cowering behind rocks of varying sizes while shouting things like 'Stumpy Varmit!' or 'Toothless Titty!' The only person even attempting to hurt the master vampire in the center of the cave was Hannah, whose blessed knives seemed stuck in an infinite loop, always passing a few centimeters away from the demon's leathery white neck. Looking at its revolting elongated bat ears and broad, flat nose which had migrated to almost dead center between its beady little blood-red eyes, Spike suddenly felt a desperate desire to never, ever grow old. But that didn't really help anything, so instead he picked up a handful of rocks from the cave floor and started pelting the ugly bastard.
The first one hit right in the center of its giant ear, which apparently was a mite painful. The Timeless One roared (well, squeaked, really) and knocked the girl backwards with a quick swipe of its claw-shaped hand, turning to glower directly at Spike.
“YOU FOOLS WOULD DARE FIGHT ME IN MY OWN REALM! HERE I AM AS A GOD!” Spike could hear the capital letters in every word, even though it was the most ridiculous voice a master vampire could ever have – like Mickey Mouse on helium shouting through a tiny megaphone.
“Sorry, mate,” Spike answered. “'M not religious.” Then he threw five more rocks in quick succession, keeping on the move to try to avoid any ricochets the old bat might cause. Unfortunately every one of them twisted away, so he figured a change of tactics was in order and threw the next one at the large rock behind the vampire making his own ricochet right onto the back of its head. Ash white claws reached up to rub the back of its bulbous head as the creature tried to growl at him. Of course, even if it could have managed a truly menacing growl, it would still have been a bit undercut by the high squeal it made when Hannah snuck up beside it and sliced open its cheek.
As soon as it turned its attention back to her, Spike resumed his rock sniping to distract it even more. Working together, the two of them managed to keep it on the ropes for almost a minute, and give it a number of welts and gashes until, finally, its eyes flashed white and the air around them thickened and snapped, pinning everyone but the Timeless One motionless against the rock wall.
“YOU THINK THIS SIGNIFICANT?!” It peeped furiously, pointing at the wounds they'd caused. “THIS IS NOTHING! IN THIS PLACE, I AM GOD! I AM INVINCIBLE!” Almost instantly, Spike could see the wounds start to close up and fade away, and he was just about fresh out of ideas.
“You would call yourself a god?” The voice coming out of the portal was so full of steel it didn't even need capital letters. “You are a worm among ooze. A pathetic insect standing tall on a ball of dung.”
None of them could see exactly what happened next, as the Timeless One flew back to the entrance of the cave in a rage, but in seconds the force that had been holding them up disappeared, dumping them all on the floor, and Spike could just see the Timeless One's head fly up before he was showered in a rain of dust. Spitting and wiping at his face (who knew if ugliness like that could be infectious?) he shot to his feet and looked over at the Kamels starting to regain their wits. Hannah smiled at him and then the voice of steel returned.
“Where is the vampire Spike?!”
The Kamels' expressions turned murderous and he sprinted for the door. Coming around the rocks he finally saw who'd actually slain the bat-pire.
“Blue!” he shouted in relief. “Took you long enough.”
Illyria looked at him with a face of stone. “You think me inadequate?”
“Never that, luv!” he shouted back, grabbing her hand on the way to the portal. “How about we talk about it back home?” The two of them were at the portal in a matter of seconds, but he could swear he felt the slight sting of blessed silver in the back of his heel just before he fell through.The End*
*The End, while seemingly self-explanatory, has in fact many pitfalls of understanding for the average reader. One can not say, truly, if a story has ended, or only just begun (or perhaps merely middled about a bit) without a clear definition of the word 'end' and, of course, 'end' is really quite a subjective term. If one dislikes an ending, for example, then one may simply stop reading two pages earlier, whereupon that would be the end, or extrapolate outward from the so-called 'end' to the next accessible point of acceptability within the the natural timeline of the storyline (or vice versa). More problematically, one must wrestle with the perils of sequels, which do by nature nullify all legitimacy any alleged 'end' may have possessed and of prequels, which may or may not bastardize every single thing which is said to have occurred before the 'end', leaving nothing but a few solitary words hanging forlornly in thin air. And of course, one can't forget the ever dreaded post-script in which the 'end' is not even the last thing that is said in the story, which, one really must establish as the absolute minimum of what an 'end' simply ought to be. Luckily, for your enjoyment, this story has been painstakingly punctuated to avoid all of these perilous pitfalls. You're welcome!