Sands of Burning Time - (11)
Disclaimer and Distribution notes are listed on the Index page of this story.'Single' quote marks surround thoughts in this story. "Regular" quotes are around spoken words.
“Crap,” Dawn muttered. “We’re in for it now.”
Alex looked over his shoulder to see what Dawn was talking about. "Bloody Hell. What is that thing?"
"I don't know, but it's gaining on us," Rogue grumbled. "I don't think we're going to outrun it."
The three teenagers attempted to scramble away from the eyeball creature, but Rogue was caught by one of the tentacles. She let out a scream of pain. One of the monster's tentacles grabbed her arm. She screamed again when it started to pull her away from Dawn and Alex.
"Hold on to her arm," Alex yelled while he ducked another of the tentacles.
"I'm trying!" Dawn grabbed Rogue's forearm where the long gloves covered the mutant's skin. "That freaky eye thing is stronger than it looks!"
The eyeball creature wrapped another tentacle around Rogue, and it pulled her away from Dawn and Alex. Rogue let out another scream of pain while she was dragged away from her companions. Dawn and Alex grabbed at their new friend, but when the hallway plunged into complete and total darkness, they were forced to give up their pursuit. Rogue's screams stopped abruptly.
"ROGUE!!!" Alex screamed. He flailed around until he found Dawn in the darkness.
The lights snapped back on, and Dawn and Alex both blinked for a few moments before their eyes readjusted. They looked both ways down the hallway.
Rogue and the eyeball creature had both disappeared from sight.
"Which way should we go?" Alex asked as he looked both ways. "I didn't feel anything brush past me. Did you?"
Dawn shook her head. "No, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's transporters here."
"Transporters? What the hell are those?" Alex looked at Dawn in confusion.
"A mode of travel that's basically science-fiction," Dawn said in an absentminded tone of voice. She looked both ways up and down the hallway. She pointed in the direction they had come from. "We should go that way."
Dawn and Alex walked down the hallway, occasionally looking over their shoulders to look behind them.
"I hope we don't run into Imothep or any other kind of monster," Alex muttered. "I'm very ready to go home now."
Dawn nodded in agreement. "Me, too." She paused for a moment, and she tilted her head.
"You hear something?" Alex whispered.
Dawn nodded before she put a finger against her lips in a quieting gesture. "I think I hear Rogue."
Alex paused while he strained to listen. Finally, he heard the very faint sound of screaming. "Yes, that's her. Let's go." He grabbed Dawn's hand, and they raced down the hall towards the noise.
Alex and Dawn paused at the next hallway intersection to listen for Rogue. After a few turns they came to a corridor of doors. However, every door they tried was locked. They rounded the next corner where they skidded to a stop when they found Rogue in a heap on the floor.
"Rogue?" Dawn said in a quiet voice while she scanned the hallway for the eyeball creature.
Rogue looked up at Alex and Dawn. "It feels like I haven't seen you in ten years," she said.
"You do look older," Alex replied while he studied her face. "Don't you agree, Dawn?"
Dawn nodded. "Yeah, you have more laugh lines." She tapped the skin next to one of her eyes. "Your white streak is wider too."
"How could that happen though? It was only a couple of minutes," Alex said.
"I don't know, but I have new memories. Like I lived those ten years." Rogue struggled to her feet. "I even have control of my mutant power. Check it out." She peeled off a glove, and she touched Dawn's hand.
"Where did the eyeball thing take you?" Dawn went back to watching the hallway. Her stomach growled again. In the excitement, they had forgotten they were looking for food.
Rogue tilted her head in thought. "It happened so fast. I ... I think we transported to some other room."
Alex hitched a thumb over his shoulder. "There's a whole hallway of doors back that direction."
"There was some kind of machine there. Then, I was here, but it was like I lived ten years in ten seconds." Rogue straightened her clothes. "In this ... vision I took a shot to remove my power, but it came back. I had control over it then. I just knew I still did when I found myself in the hallway here."
"We need to find a way out of this place," Dawn said.
A dull roar echoed down the hall, and their kidnapper appeared.
Ali Hassib stared from under his eyelashes at the man who had just purchased him from his old master. Ali was only eight years old, but somehow he knew this new master was nothing like his old one. He wasn't sure if it was the warm, calloused hand that settled on his shoulder or the glint in the man's eye when he watched the old slaver walk away counting his cash.
Ardeth looked down at the small boy who he knew was staring at him from under his eyelashes. The Medjai placed one lean finger against his lips in a silencing gesture. The warrior and the boy tailed the slaver until they came to where the man's camp was pitched. They hid behind some nearby bushes.
"I will return," Ardeth told Ali in a solemn whisper. "Wait here."
Ali nodded. He felt that he should give his new master a warning. "He carries a poisoned blade in his boot."
"I thank you," Ardeth said. Then, he snuck away to the tent that the slaver entered a few minutes before.
Ali knew there was no one to raise the attention in the camp. He had been the last of the slaves to be sold. The old master cleared out the merchandise every few months. It was a good thing the new master came along. Ali shivered at what could had been his fate instead.
After a few moments, the new master stepped out of the tent. He waved Ali over, and they entered the cloth structure together.
Ardeth knelt next to Ali. "My name is Ardeth Bey. You are not my slave. You are a free man."
"I'm eight years old," Ali snorted. "I'm not a man. Besides, where will I go as a 'free man'? I have no one."
Ardeth hummed. "You have me. What am I to call you?"
"Ali Hassib," Ali said proudly. "That is what my mother always called me before she died. I am Ali Hassib."
"I'm very pleased to meet you, Ali Hassib," Ardeth replied. He glanced at the dead slaver, and he wrinkled his nose. "After dark, we will take out the trash. Then, we will pack up and travel to meet my friends."
Ali gave a little bow. "As you wish, Master Ardeth."
Buffy, two Spikes, and Rick and Evy O'Connell stepped into the London nightclub. They were on a mission to find a magic user to help them with the artifact they needed to find Dawn, Alex, and Rogue.
Angel stared down into his drink until a familiar laugh that he hadn't heard in decades caught his attention. He looked around until he saw a very blond Spike on the other side of the club with a table of strangers. Drusilla had to be someplace close, hadn't she? He continued his perusal of the club but came up with nothing. He turned his attention back to Spike.
Angel watched Spike flirt with his blond companion for a few minutes before he shrugged to himself. No skin off his nose what Spike was up to. He was about to turn back to his drink when a second Spike sauntered into a club. Angel looked back to the blonder Spike at the table.
Yes, they looked the same. Could one of them be a shape shifter?
The new Spike, who looked more like the William that Drusilla had turned, sat down with the other Spike. A quick wave at the waiter brought a new round of drinks to the table. Angel shrugged his indifference, and he turned away to stare at his drink again.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't my old pal Angelus?" a familiar voice drawled.
Angel turned around to find the Spikes and the blond girl behind him.
"I thought he was Angel already?"
Angel realized that the girl was a bit older than he had first thought. Then, he looked at the two Spikes.
"There's two of you now," Angel sneered. "How'd that happen?"
At his words, the girl gave Angel an odd look before she turned to the blonder Spike. "He's not helping with the good fight, is he?"
The Spike shook his head. "Not yet, luv. We're about fifty years too soon. He doesn't stop munchin' on the rats and start hittin' the pig until he sees you."
"Oh, I forgot about that," the girl said. She turned to Angel, and she smiled brightly, and just a tad too vapidly for the brooding vampire's taste. "I'm Buffy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Angel let out a snort. "So, instead of killing Slayers, you're what? Fucking them instead?"
Buffy grimaced at the crude words. "Really? Two Spikes and a Slayer, and your first thought is about our sex life? You really need to get your priorities straight, Angel. Quit being cryptic and broody, and do something good with yourself."
The blonder Spike reached over to smack the other Spike on the shoulder. "Remind me to tell you all about this wanker and the U-boat, mate."
"Sure thing, mate," the other Spike answered. He eyed Angel. "What's the story here?"
"We'll talk about that later, too," the blonder Spike said. "Just so you know, granddad here has a soul. Got it back in 1890."
"Huh, well, that explains a lot." The other Spike looked at Angel with disdain. "He was acting odd those last few years he was with us."
"Squirrely." The blonder Spike nodded knowingly. Then, he glanced at the Slayer. "Now I know why Darla was so brassed off at the gypsies."
"I see the witch we need to talk to," the other Spike said. He peered into the crowd down the bar from where Angel sat. Angel had the distinct impression that the blonder Spike was the elder.
"We have to cut this short, rat breath," the blonder Spike told Angel.
"Rat breath! Ewww." The Slayer wrinkled her nose. "Rats are so gross. Really, Angel, rats?"
"I do not eat rats," Angel growled. He was disgusted at the thought of eating vermin.
The Slayer turned to the blonder Spike who nodded at her.
"Angelus pouted about it," the blonder Spike commented.
Buffy grimaced before she turned back to Angel. "I don't like Angelus. Figure out how to anchor that curse of yours. I have no qualms about sending you to Hell again."
The blonder Spike gave the Slayer an odd look before he escorted her away. Angel heard him ask her why she felt so hostile against her one true love. Then, he heard the Slayer's reply.
"I don't know exactly. It's like I don't feel any connection with him anymore."
The statement confused Angel, but he didn't care. He didn't like the blond Slayer, and he questioned Spike's taste in females.
Two Spikes? What was that? Then, Angel shrugged. It wasn't any of his business, and he refused to feel any guilt at it. He went back to staring down into his drink.
Mary McKinley (who would one day have a great granddaughter named Amy Madison) was intrigued by the two vampires and the human woman that approached her table. The vampires looked enough alike to be twins, but that was impossible since the blonder of the two felt far older than the other one.
The woman sat across from Mary, and the two vampires stood behind her like bodyguards. "I'm Buffy."
"What can I do for you, Buffy?" Mary asked.
Buffy glanced around for eavesdroppers. Then, she said in a quiet voice, "We're needing some magic help to solve a puzzle."
"I don't do things for free," Mary replied.
"Don't worry. We have your fee. Our friends are holding it till we make a deal." Buffy gestured towards the table where Evy and Rick still sat.
"You won't be trying to swindle me." Mary narrowed her eyes. It was a statement, not a question.
"Do you see auras?"" Buffy waited for Mary to nod. "Look at me. What do you see?"
Marry peered at Buffy after a few moments. She sat back with a gasp. "You were dead."
"I was. For 158 days," Buffy confirmed.
"Long, cold days." The blonder vampire piped up. His eyes filled with a bleak look, and he put a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "Until the witch brought her back."
Buffy nodded as she covered the vampire's hand with her own. "We know better than to cross a witch of your caliber. Now, the terms of our agreement. We're just looking for someone with magic that can translate an inscription for us on an ancient Egyptian tablet. For this we will pay you ..." She reached into her pocket for a note, which she slid across the table.
Mary picked up the paper, and she glanced at it. Her eyes widened. "Are you serious?"
"Yes, we are. We'll pay you half tonight and half when you finish the translation." Buffy squeezed the hand of the vampire she was still holding hands with. "Go get the money from Rick, Spike."
Spike strolled across the night club towards the other table.
Mary crumpled the paper. She stuck it in her reticule. "It's a pleasure doing business with you."
"I agree." Buffy stuck out her hand. "I'm Buffy Summers. I'm a vampire Slayer."
Mary looked at the two vampires before reaching across to shake Buffy's hand. "I'm Mary McKinley, witch. I've never met a vampire Slayer before. You're not slaying them though. There's a definite story behind that."
"Oh, don't think he didn't try, because he did," Buffy laughed. "But things changed. Things are changing." Her laugh turned confused. "We're changing everything."
"I'm not off with Dru, am I? Pretty sure that changes everything, luv."