Epilogue: The First Step's A Doozy
The Rimmers ignored their erstwhile allies at first, instead gathering around their fallen namesake, who lay held up by Arnold and Lister. Not that the Wolfram & Hart team had learned anything to say to ease moments like these. Instead they stood behind the circle, Wesley with his arm around Fred, and a sniffling Harmony burying her head in Spike’s sore shoulder.
At the center of the Rimmers, Ace lay on his back, feeling an odd sense of peace, if not actually his lower body. Looking around himself at all these versions of himself, he surprised himself by considering it an even deal. Looking back to his left, he saw a teary-eyed Arnold clutching his blood-stained flight jacket.
“It’s alright, Arnie,” Ace said, and winked. “All it means is you get more tottie now.” To Arnold and Lister’s horror, he slowly pulled off the pompadeur, looking now completely like the mail clerk, with close-cropped, curly hair that would otherwise never grow to such Elvis-like proportions. Ace placed it on Arnold’s hands, atop the jacket. “You’ll need to wear this, too.”
“Hello, Wesley” one of the Aces said to the former Watcher, before turning to Fred. “We’re told you both did some good work for another one of us.”
“I wish we could do more for this one,” Winifred answered.
“Is he …” Harmony started to ask. This Ace walked over toward her and gently patted her shoulder.
“No, not really,” he answered. “There’ll always be an Ace Rimmer, somewhere.” He turned away, and went to retrieve the fallen Ace’s craft.
“How do I look?” Arnold asked, feeling silly as all hell. Yet strangely … what was the word? … oh, right. Cool.
“Like a bloody Ace,” his Ace answered. “Right, boys?” Arnold looked up to see smiles from himselves, all around. Even Lister slapped him on the back, in congratulations.
Ace coughed. He knew he had only one more thing to tell the lad.
“Remember,” he said. “It goes, ‘Smoke me ….” The thought hung in the air long after he faded into nothingness.
The gathering fell silent for a few moments. Then he was tapped on the shoulder and presented with his -- my!
He reminded himself -- space chopper. He unsheathed his sunglasses from the coat pocket and took his seat as the other Aces returned to their respective bikes. His now former superiors approached, and the group exchanged handshakes. Except for Harmony and Lister, whom he hugged.
“Ready?” the newest Ace asked his fellow Guardians, and joined them in opening dimensional portals. The air crackled again, bringing more fierce wind onto the deck. “All together now!” he yelled, and as one the Aces bellowed, “Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast!”
One by one, the group revved up and through its respective portals. As this Earth’s Ace began his ascent, however, Harmony began chasing him.
“Wait!” she yelled, barely audible over the interstellar roar. “Acey! Can I get an AUYEEEEEEEE!” She was pulled headlong into their Ace’s portal. Spike tried to catch her foot, but Wesley and Fred held him back, before he also got sucked in.
Like a blender after making a cocktail, the whirring and noise wound down within seconds, leaving only a confused Lister, Winifred, Wesley and Spike standing among the corpses and wreckage of the observation deck.
They looked at one another for a long few seconds, as if to make sure each had experienced the same lunatic dream, before Spike grabbed a smoke.
“God, what a mess,” he concluded, surveying the scene. “I’d hate to be the one to tell Angel about this!”
The group looked back at him with narrowed eyes. Spike’s eyes widened at them in response.
“Oh, balls,” he huffed. So much for a slow night. Coming Soon:
Vampires In Space!
It's the story that could only be calledClipper III: The Search For Harmony