Came the Thunder
Nonoma’e’e frowned at her Vé’ho’á’e counterpart. Did the girl not realize that this ‘Spike’ was a Night Walker? She seemed unaware of any threat. And how had the Night Walker even entered the stone teepee?
Another voice spoke down below. A young female voice. “I’m sorry, Spike. I’ll be more careful next time.”
“Next time?” The Night Walker again. “You mean next bloody Tuesday in Sunnyhell or next time a bunch of sodding biker demons decide to reenact Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence?”
“Whose raid on who?”
Buffy set off down the steps. Nonoma’e’e followed behind her. She kept hold of the axe but did not know if she would need to use it. Did Night Walkers live peacefully among the Vé’hó’e? Or was this a Night Walker taken as a captive and brought into their tribe? Surely that should not be possible.
“Bleeding hell, Niblet, don’t you know your own sodding history?” There seemed to be amusement in the Night Walker’s voice. He came into Nonoma’e’e’s sight as she descended the steps and she saw that he was shaking his head. “Anyway…” His eyes opened very wide as he saw Nonoma’e’e. “What the fuck?”
“Spike!” Buffy called out. “You’re back. With my sister Dawn. I suffered damage and need to be repaired. Will Willow be here soon?”
The girl who was with the Night Walker was young, perhaps just at marriageable age or not quite, although taller than Buffy. The Night Walker stepped in front of her in an obviously protective manner. “Who’s the bird?” he demanded of Buffy.
“There is no bird,” Buffy said. “I brought a human home. She rescued me from the demons. Her name is Nonoma’e’e. She did not have any clothes. I gave her some of Tara’s.”
“No no mah eh? What the hell kind of name is that?” The Night Walker’s eyebrows went up. One of them had a scar running through it.
“Tsétsêhéstaestse,” Nonoma’e’e answered. It was strange to be speaking to a Night Walker instead of killing him but this did not seem to be a time to fight. “You Vé’hó’e call us Cheyenne.” She used her left hand to make the sign of the Cut Arm on the forearm of her right and then lowered the axe. Something about the way the Night Walker spoke reminded her of He Who Watches Them. “You are from Grandmother’s Land?”
The young girl touched something on the wall of the stone teepee. Suddenly the light was brighter. A lamp, hanging from the divider between the upper and lower parts of the stone teepee, was now lit. Nonoma’e’e jerked in surprise and raised the axe again.
“Oi, careful with that axe, Eugene,” said the Night Walker. “Not gonna hurt you, pet. Grandmother’s Land? Haven’t heard it called that in a hell of a long time.”
“Grandmother’s Land?” the young girl echoed him. “Where’s that?”
“’S what the Indians – sorry, Native bloody Americans – used to call Canada, or maybe England,” the Night Walker told her. “Land of the Great White Queen. Victoria, innit?”
“I don’t understand what you are talking about,” Buffy said. “Spike is from England. He’s English. And hot. You should see his washboard abs. Dawn is my sister. Nonoma’e’e killed ten demons. I killed only one demon. My systems came close to failure. Willow must repair me soon. I am operating on emergency backups and my balance is impaired.”
“No No Nanette here killed ten demons?” The Night Walker’s eyes widened. “Bloody hell. You’re a Slayer.”
“I am Slayer,” Nonoma’e’e confirmed. “You are Taa’eveameohtse.” She decided that he was not hostile, strange as that seemed, and tucked the axe into her belt as a gesture of peace. “I not kill you if you not attack.”
“Couldn’t even if I bloody wanted to,” the Night Walker muttered. Creases appeared on his forehead. “Big girl, ain’t you? Slayer, turns up without any clothes, talks like a bloody Indian from the Wild sodding West – oh, Jesus Christ on a bicycle! What the hell’s Willow done now?”
“Huh? What do you mean, what’s Willow done?” The young Vé’ho’á’e stared at Spike the Night Walker and her eyebrows climbed high up her forehead.
At that moment the wooden board that covered the entrance to the stone teepee swung inwards to expose the doorway. Four people, one Vé’ho’e and three Vé’ho’á’eo’o, entered the dwelling. Everybody began to talk at once; the newcomers, and Buffy, and the girl, and the Night Walker. It was all too much for Nonoma’e’e to follow and she could not understand what was being said.
Voices were raised and she thought that she could see hostility on the faces of the new arrivals. She retreated for a couple of steps and put her right hand on the butt of the pistol. “He’kotoo’êstse, he’kotoo’êstse!” she cried, as alarm filled her. She could not think of the Vé’hó’e words to call for quiet. She pulled the gun free of the holster.
“Shut up!” the young girl shrieked. “You’re scaring her!” The noise died away.
The male among the newcomers was first to speak after that. He was the only one of the Vé’hó’e who was taller than Nonoma’e’e, although not by much, and his hair was dark. “Yeah, sure, Dawn,” he said. “Because scaring somebody who’s holding a forty-four magnum? Not a good idea.” He looked at Nonoma’e’e and his throat moved as he swallowed. “Uh, it’s okay, lady. We just want to know who you are.”
“Her name is Nonoma’e’e, Xander,” Buffy said. “I tried to tell you. She killed ten demons and rescued me.”
“She’s a Slayer,” Spike the Night Walker added. “Care to explain that, Red? Something you forgot to tell us?”
The noise level rose again as everyone spoke at once. This time Nonoma’e’e was less alarmed. The babble of speech was not directed at her. She could understand little of what was said, save that it seemed to be an argument, but she simply waited until it died down.
Eventually one of the Vé’ho’á’eo’o, a girl with yellow hair, looked straight at Nonoma’e’e and spoke. “Were you dead?”
The man gave a sigh. “That’s my girl, straight to the point.”
It was a relief to be asked such a simple question. “Yes,” Nonoma’e’e answered. “Now I am not.”
“Well, there you have it,” the yellow-haired girl said. “You brought back the wrong Slayer, Willow.”
“I don’t understand,” came a wail from a Vé’ho’á’e with hair that was red like a fox. “It should have been Buffy. I did everything right.”
The Night Walker shook his head. “Always bloody consequences with magic, Red.”
There was yet more babble of many speaking at once. Nonoma’e’e waited. She put away the pistol. It did not seem that she would need it and, if she did, she could pull it out again quickly enough. The trigger action was very fast on the gun and she knew that she could kill five of them in three heartbeats if it came to it. The remaining one, and of course the Night Walker, would need to be slain with the axe.
“W-would you like something t-to eat?” This Vé’ho’á’e had not yet spoken. Even when all had been speaking at once she had been drowned out by the others and had fallen silent.
Nonoma’e’e had not thought of food until now but the girl’s words made her realize that she was hungry. “Náháéána,” she confirmed. “I have hunger. I thirsty.”
“I’ll g-get you something,” the girl said. “Uh, come with me.”
Nonoma’e’e followed her but took care to keep her eyes on the other members of this band in case they attacked. The Vé’hó’e could not be trusted.
The food was strange but not unpleasant and it filled her stomach. It seemed that the custom among the Vé’hó’e was to eat sitting upon stools around a raised platform of wood. Nonoma’e’e followed the example of the girl, Tara, the one whose clothes she wore. It was not comfortable but it would be easy to rise quickly to her feet from that position. The stool itself would serve as a club and when broken would provide stakes.
It did not seem that such desperate measures would be necessary. It was impossible to imagine this girl attacking a guest. Buffy’s description of her as ‘nice’ was accurate, if Nonoma’e’e was correct in believing that the Vé’hó’e word meant épévoéstomo’he. Tara had a good heart, Nonoma’e’e was certain of that.
She was not yet so sure about the others. The youngest one, she thought, and Buffy the Slayer, she would say, had true hearts; although there was something strange about the Slayer. She was almost like a child. Perhaps she had been struck upon the head and had not recovered all of her thoughts. That might be why the argument that raged seemed to be about an attempt to ‘bring back’ Buffy that had gone wrong and brought Nonoma’e’e to this strange place instead.
Nonoma’e’e tried to ignore their talk. It was too confusing. Tara asked her some questions, as they ate, and Nonoma’e’e tried to answer them as best she could. She asked questions of her own in return. Tara assured her that Spike, although he was a Night Walker, did not attack people and did not need to be slain. There was a reason for this but Nonoma’e’e did not understand it. Tara asked more questions. She stumbled on her words as she asked Nonoma’e’e when she had died.
Nonoma’e’e did not know how much time had passed. She could not remember the way that the Vé’hó’e counted years. Tara did not understand when Nonoma’e’e gave the year’s name. Eventually Nonoma’e’e spoke of the war between the blue soldier-coats and the gray soldier-coats and Tara put her hand to her mouth and her eyes became very wide.
“Oh goddess,” Tara said, and she gasped. “The Civil War. That ended a hundred and thirty-six years ago.”
Nonoma’e’e pushed back the stool and came to her feet. She could feel the blood leaving her cheeks. Her head swam. Surely this could not be true? “Étatóne’xove?” she gasped. “Nésáanéstovatséhe! Nénetse’e!” she protested in denial. “I not believe!” One hundred and thirty-six years? Everyone she had known would be many years dust. It could not be!
She felt as if the walls of the stone teepee were closing in on her. She had to get out. Nonoma’e’e made for the doorway. The Vé’ho’e stood in her way and so she pushed him aside and he fell. The wooden shield over the entrance was fastened shut and it would not move when she pushed or pulled. The Vé’ho’á’eo’o were all shouting at her but she heard only noise. She drew the pistol. “Open, open!” she ordered. The Night Walker obeyed and the doorway was clear. She ran out into the dark.
“Well, what have we here?” The speaker looked like a Vé’ho’e but Nonoma’e’e was not fooled. He, and his companion, were Night Walkers. “I thought we were in for a hungry night, with those friggin’ hellions tearing the place up and everybody staying home, but our luck’s changed.”
“Oh, the girl has a gun,” the second Night Walker said. “I’m so scared. Or I would be, if guns worked on us.” His face changed and he reached out for her.
Nonoma’e’e did not fire the pistol. The Night Walker was wrong when he said that guns did not work on them, for bullets could break their bones as effectively as could punches or kicks, but she had only fifteen bullets and wished to conserve them against future need. Instead she used the gun as a war club and struck at the Night Walker’s arm. The bone cracked under the impact of the barrel and his arm jerked aside. She swung again at his jaw and the Night Walker dropped to the ground.
The other one brought his leg up to kick at her head. She used the gun barrel to block and he gave a yelp of pain. Nonoma’e’e lashed out with her foot and delivered a kick between the Night Walker’s legs. His cry of pain became louder and higher and he bent over double. She brought the barrel of the pistol down upon his head.
She could hear a roaring noise, like that of the iron beasts on which the Heávóh’e had ridden, and it was growing louder. She ignored it for the moment and put the pistol back in its holster. She removed the axe from her belt and chopped down at the Night Walker. His head came off and he turned to dust.
The other one tried to protect himself with his arms. Two blows from the axe left him unable to use his arms any more and she took his head with the third blow. Nonoma’e’e stood up straight and turned to face the approaching iron beast.
It came into her sight and she recognized the rider. Not one of those Heávóh’e that she had fought before, although he was a Heávohe of a sort, and probably not a threat. It was Spike, the Night Walker who she had encountered at the teepee of Buffy the Slayer. She stood still and waited for him to reach her.
He brought the iron beast to a halt a few feet in front of Nonoma’e’e and lowered a foot to the ground. “Not gonna need the tomahawk, pet,” he said. “Told you I wasn’t gonna hurt you.”
“No understand,” Nonoma’e’e said. “Why? You are Night Walker.” She gestured at the dust scattered around her. “They also. Émésêhétánoma – they want to eat me. Why you not?”
The Night Walker’s eyes swiveled upward to point at the night sky. “Long story, pet. Too bloody long. Tell you some other time, maybe.” He used his foot to move a piece of the iron beast toward the ground. It formed a stand that prevented the steed from falling over. With that done he put his hand into a pouch in his leather robe and drew out a small metal object and a little box. From the box he extracted a white rod. He put it into his mouth and caused a flame to come from the metal thing. He touched the flame to the white rod.
There was smoke. The Night Walker sucked on the white rod and then blew smoke out of his mouth. Nonoma’e’e recognized the smell of the smoke. Tse’némoo’o.
“You haven’t got anywhere to go, have you, luv?” said Spike. “Dunno why you ran out like that but you’d be better off going back. The Scoobies can be a bunch of right tossers sometimes but they’ll look after you.” He inhaled more smoke. “You’re human, after all. And, hate to bloody admit it, but they’ve treated me right more often than not.”
Nonoma’e’e allowed her shoulders to slump. He was right. She did not know where else she could go. She put the axe back into her belt and held out her hand. “Néxhe’pó’sesêstse,” she said. “We smoke. Peace.”
Spike’s eyebrows quirked upward. “You really did that? Not just in the movies?” He handed the white rod to her.
It was not solid. Tse’némoo’o in a stiff wrapper that was perhaps paper, like He Who Watches Them had used to make word symbols upon, and that burned away slowly. She put it to her mouth and sucked in the smoke. The taste was unpleasant and made her want to cough. She breathed in deeply, took the white stick from her mouth, and held it out to her side so that Ma’háhko’e Ôhtanovóósánêstse, Badger See All, could share the sacred smoke. She blew out smoke from her mouth and felt the skin on top of her head tingle.
“Ééšeénetâhtséstove. We make peace,” Nonoma’e’e said, and handed the white tse’némoo’o stick back to Spike.
“Peace, man,” Spike said. He sucked on the white stick. “Have to tell you, pet, the white man wasn’t much good at keeping the peace with your lot. Kept on taking more and more, packed you off onto reservations.”
“The dream of Motse’eoeve has come true,” Nonoma’e’e said. “Taa’eveameohtse, Spike, tell me where my people now?”
“Dunno.” Spike blew out smoke. “You’re Cheyenne, you said, right? S’ppose it’ll be Wyoming, probably, seeing as how that’s where the city of Cheyenne is. Or maybe Oklahoma. Tell you this, though, it’ll be on land the white man doesn’t bloody want. Bet Willow can find out for you. You coming back with me, then?”
“I come with you,” Nonoma’e’e agreed. “You right. I not know where else to go.”
The characters in this story (other than Nonoma’e’e) do not belong to me but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.