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.
“Buggering shite on a stick.”
Spike was not having a good time.
In fact, he hadn’t had anything resembling a good time in quite a while. First, he died. Then, even worse, he was forced to work for the bleeding Captain Hairgel. Then his friends died and he got to fight one of the biggest demon armies in history.
Well, ok the last part was a bit of a rush. Especially when they won (Well, Blue won, really, but he certainly got a fair slaughter of demons, too).
But afterwards, things just got bloody boring. Not a demon or vampire in sight for months. And just when he thought his brawling skills were about to rot to pieces for all time, the one demon gang he did manage to find led him on a high speed chase into the desert, wrecked his car, and bloody well escaped leaving him stranded in the desert stepping on cactus rocks in the middle of the night!
With a frustrated growl, he kicked up a rock into the distance, surprised when a metallic clang echoed back towards him. Curiously, he moved forward to find a broken down signpost that read “Welcome to the Powder Desert”.
He stared at it for a bit, wondering what tosser would put a welcome sign on a desert.* And for that matter, where in hell the “Powder” desert would be on a map – certainly not one he’d ever heard of before.
Finally deciding he truly didn’t care, he pulled a fag from his coat and lit up, leaning against the sign as he stared into the darkness. He watched the light dance in front of his face and sighed. Suddenly, his eyes located a soft glow in the air just a bit farther and he moved quickly hoping whoever was camped there would have some sort of trailer or something where he could spend the daylight hours.
* In fact, the man truly was called Tosser, and he placed the sign as a remembrance of the victory of Kool Billy and the Gang o’ Hunnerds at the Battle of the Raining Powder. The gang rode fearlessly into Near Death Valley and sacked the city of Redbank, the largest vampire city seen in a millennium. The resulting dust cloud floated on the wind for three days before settling on the Barren Plain, covering several hundred miles in a fine powder. The Barren Plain was then renamed the Powder Plain, but a subsequent lawsuit from the Plain Powder cosmetics company forced a second name change to the Powder Desert.
He could tell they saw him coming at least fifty yards out, but they didn’t challenge him. The fire wasn’t big, but the campsite around it was downright ridiculous. A rugged looking guy with a short grey beard sat on a large tree stump cradling a shotgun. Across from him was a young brunette girl in a rocking chair playing with a set of knives. A teenage boy in a set of dirty overalls sat near her stoking the fire with something that looked for all the world like a slightly singed umbrella, and on the opposite side of the flames, an older man in a hunter’s camouflage snored loudly on a park bench with a fading ad for something called ‘Vamp-Away’ painted on the backrest.
Spike had a sudden urge to head back into the darkness and forget he ever saw any of them for the sake of his sanity, but he knew the sun would be rising in a few hours and he needed shelter.
“Evenin’, Stranger,” the man on the tree stump said. “Name’s Merl Kamel.”
Spike stared for a moment at the man’s green flannel shirt before he answered. “Right. I’m Spike.”
“Alright, then.” Merl shifted the shotgun to his shoulder as he scratched an area Spike had never wanted to see. “Ya come out here to join the hunt, Mr. Spike?”
“Just Spike,” he said, annoyed. “And what hunt?”
“The Vampire Hunt, course,” Merl told him. “Can’t be lettin’ the critters get past the Powder, I reckon. Right mess, that’d be.”
“Of course. Yes, I came to join the hunt.” He looked around the campfire again, wondering why no one else was interested in the stranger. “In fact, I’m just looking for someplace to sleep.”
“Aw, that ain’t no trouble, Mr. Spike,” Merl said with a smile. “You can join us. That there’s my little sister, Hannah Rose, and our brother, John Boy. Mr. Greene’s the one a sleepin on the bench.”
“I ain’t sleepin,” Mr. Greene growled over the fire before going back to snoring.
Merl waved him away and turned back to Spike. “We take turns with the bench, seein’ it’s the most comfortable we got here in the Powder, Greene always hates to give it up, so he tries to claim he didn’t get no sleep.”
“I’m sorry, you see I get terrible sunburns, so I won’t be able to stay out in the open like this.” He started to back away and almost ran into John Boy, no longer stoking the fire, but still holding the burnt umbrella.
“Sunburns, huh?” John Boy raked his eyes over Spike’s leather wardrobe and pale face.
“Sure, with skin that pale,” Hannah offered up. “Why, you’d almost think he was a vampire, he weren’t puffin’ the cancer sticks. What’s that brand, anyway?”
“Ain’t heard o that one,” John Boy said. “We all smoke Camels. We’re Kamels for Camels. You kin try em if ya like.”
“Thanks. So you’re saying vampires don’t smoke?”
Merl laughed a laugh worthy of a chain-smoking Santa. “Naw, Son – them critters can’t get near fire. That’s why all us hunters smoke in the first place.”*
“I understand,” Spike said, trying to see into the darkness for signs of tv cameras or mind controlling demons or Drusilla; anything that might be able to explain the surreality he seemed to be caught up in. “There’s lots of vampires here, then?” he asked, at a loss for what else to say.
“Oh, a few, a few,” Merl said dismissively. “Not nearly so many as my great grandpappy had ta fight in the Bloody Swamp War way back yonder, but they’s about here, alright. And the Timeless One what escaped my grandpappy’s still headin’ the rascals up, ta boot.”
“Timeless One?” Spike wondered, trying to place the name.
“The very same,” Hannah confirmed ecstatically.
“The one vampire in the whole blamed world,” John Boy explained, “what’s so evil an rotten that Time itself refused to have anything more to do with 'im!”**
“Of course,” Spike said, deciding at last to just humor the mental patients.
“Dern toothin’!” Merl shouted. “Which does make killin’ 'im a bit problematic, y’see, seein’ he’s all ‘outside o’ time’ an such. Hard to get to, y’might say…”
“But don’t you worry, Mr. Spike,” Hannah said, grinning, “We done got us a plan, this time! That Timeless One’s gonna be sailin’ the clouds right quick, now, you bet yer smokes on it!”
“Hannah,” John boy warned, “you tryin’ to tell the whole blamed desert?”
Her cheeks reddened as she lowered her eyes to the ground, her knives crossing unconsciously behind her back. “Sorry…”
“Aw, now, don’t fret so, Darlin’,” Merl said. “Jes try to recollect our’n's see-cure-ity pro-seedjers.”
“Right!” Hannah said, smiling again. She took a moment to compose herself then tossed one of her knives down at the edge of the camp. Drawing herself up to look as impressive as she could, she hollered, “Marlboro Man, you git yer stinkin’, no-good, rotten, no-account be-hind out o’ that thar desert an quit eavesdroppin' on our’n plans!”
“That’s ma girl!” Merl said.
“Why don’t you lazy Kamels c’mon out here an make me git, why not?!” a voice called from out in the darkness.
Spike carefully scanned the area with every heightened sense he had, but annoyingly, he couldn’t find anyone. “Where is he?” he asked in confusion.
“Oh, don’t bother tryin’ ta pinpoint him, young feller,” Merl said. “That sneaky Marlboro Man wears so much black the night sky’s done mistaken 'im for it’s own self. I reckon he’s gone by now, anyway. He knows we don’t say nothin’ useful while he’s around.”
“Yeah… So, about that shelter I’ll be needing,” Spike started, “I should get on looking for it, then -”
“Oh, no need, Young Feller, no need,” Merl said. “John Boy’ll escort ya out t’ our’n's trailer – ye kin stay the day right comfy in ‘er, no problem t’all.”
*The vampiric incompatibility with various forms of smoking was discovered quite by accident when Sir Francis Drake paid a visit to a certain count in the Dark Mountains, looking to trade some of his New World Wonder Crop ™ for a bit of immortality. The Count desired to test the merchandise before agreeing, and the resulting fireball leaped from one individual to the next, destroying, in five minutes, a stronghold that a thousand generations of Hunters had died trying to stamp out. The Firing of the Count and the immediately following Flaming of the Count’s Balls, in which undercover Hunters offered pipes to unsuspecting vampires during scheduled social events at all the vampire cities that had formally belonged to the Count, spelled the end of the age of Vampire Societies. Since this potent new weapon came to the Hunters, no clan has been able build more than a single small city before the Hunters could destroy it.
**Much discussion has been made among the Hunters of how a creature unable to enter the time stream could possibly direct armies of vampires against the world. Many have suggested that the Timeless One is nothing more than a mythical figurehead used to unite the families for a good old fashioned bloodbath every few decades. Others, who are somewhat unsure what figgy heads have to do with anything or how figs could even have heads, claim that just because a girl (Time) always runs off don’t mean her feller don’t know how to track her down. Most people are quite baffled as to what exactly this claim means, but it seems quite incontrovertible among the current generation of field Hunters.