“Let me ask you something, sweet like.” Dahl smirked at him as she said it.
Riddick huffed and slowly wrapped his large hands around her very pretty ass and just let her save him. “When was the last time you had a man between your legs, Dahl?”
“Longer than I’d care to remember,” she said after a second. And as pretty as you are, you’re not about to be the first in these many years either. Heads up we’re almost there.” Dahl cocked her chin upwards.
Riddick tensed himself, ready to enter the ship. Minutes later they were standing in the ship and Dahl was shutting the hatch. Riddick left her securing the hold and walked forward to the pilot’s seat.
Johns was at the helm. “Take a seat, Riddick.”
With a shrug Riddick took the seat next to the pilot. “Thought you’d gone.”
Johns glanced at him then sniffed. “Thought about it, gotta tell you. But Dahl made a good point. Said we’d be dead without you. Also said Santana was a complete ass and the universe is better off without him. Leaving you to die here would not be a proper way to say thanks.”
Riddick chuckled. “So I got Dahl to thank for saving my ass. D’you know what she likes?”
Riddick just looked at him, then glanced back at the cargo hold and ran a hand over his scalp. “Well looks like I’m going to have to seal some rich assholes credits. That shit is expensive.”
“Ha, tell me about it. She pulled me out of an actual fire a few years ago, almost cleaned out a full cycle’s worth of credits.”
Riddick shook his head at Dahl when she came up to them and took her seat. “You talking about me?” she asked smiling.
“Telling Riddick about your love of Arogaliaan Brandy.”
“Better make it a decent sized bottle,” she grinned. She looked forward through the view-screen.
Riddick noticed she squinted her eyes and looked away from the brightness there. He cocked his head at her and just watched. As she moved her head he saw something that made his breath catch.
“What? What is it?” she asked.
“Your eyes,” Riddick said softly.
She touched her face, running her fingers over her eyes. “What’s wrong with my eyes?” she asked.
“They shine,” Riddick growled. “Why do they shine? How? Who the hell are you, Dahl?”
“What are you talking about?” Dahl snarled back.
Riddick was out of his seat and pushing her back into hers in a second, grabbing her chin and pushing her head back and forth, while his other hand held her wrist. He used his body to hold her still. It wasn’t easy. She almost bucked him off several times. He was lost in what he was doing and only realized he was screwed when cold settled at his temple.
“Let, her, go,” Johns said softly.
Riddick threw him a side eye, but didn’t move. “Look at her eyes.”
Johns grunted, he didn’t back the gun off but Riddick saw he was looking at Dahl now. Riddick moved her face back and forth. He felt Johns back off and saw him flop into the chair behind him.
“You see it?” Riddick asked.
Johns nodded once.
With a sigh Riddick nodded and backed off Dahl, flopping into a seat of his own. “Ship’s on auto?” he asked.
Johns nodded once again.
Dahl shook herself off and glared at them. “What the hell is going on?” She demanded. “What’s wrong with my eyes?”
“Like he said, they shine. Not like his, and not all the time, but they do shine.” Johns ran a hand over his eyes. “What the fuck, Riddick.”
“Exactly.” Riddick stood and looked around the ship.”Galley?” he pointed toward the back.
Dahl looked to where he was pointing. “Yeah. Press panels. Push in and they open. Don’t break anything. Grab the first aid kit in the yellow panel. I want to take a look at your injuries. Those things were poison right?”
Riddick grunted and walked to the panels. He pressed them in sequence until he found something to drink. He finished the bottle and threw it into the recycler and grabbed two more before opening the yellow panel and taking the first aid kit. He dropped them all on Dahl’s lap and sat back down.
“The Shine. It’s supposed to be a Furyan trait. But it’s been hidden from off-worlders so not many know about it. I didn’t know about it until I met my ghost mom. But I’m supposed to be the last one, so I want to know why you have the Shine. What’s your family?’ Riddick asked.
Dahl shrugged. “Don’t know. Grew up on Gallow 3.”
Riddick shifted, looking at her with a frown. “Gallow 3? I thought they were green.”
“They are. I was adopted when I was a little kid. Dad said he found me in a refugee camp. He never asked where I came from and mom never wanted to know. Me neither.” Dahl answered softly.
Riddick blew out a sigh. Dahl turned to look at Johns and so did Riddick.
“Well don’t look at me, I don’t have any answers,” Johns huffed, stood up and went back to the pilot’s seat.
Riddick sat quietly looking at Dahl while she looked anywhere but at him.
“Dahl!” Johns called. “Get your ass up here. We got a tail.”
Dahl scrambled up to the copilot’s seat and started tapping at the screen.
“Necro shuttle. Locked on to us already. Hailing us. What do you want to do?” Dahl asked.
Riddick walked to stand between the two seats, holding on to both to keep himself steady. “Answer them.” He growled.
“You sure?” Johns asked.
Riddick nodded with a grunt and watched as Dahl opened the communications channel.
"Hailing shuttle. Hailing shuttle. Please respond."
Johns looked at Riddick before answering.
Riddick gave a sharp nod and Johns toggled the comms open from his end.
“This is The Boss Johns. What can we do for you?”
“The Boss Johns. Did you just leave that planet? If so did you see a man named Riddick? What happened to him?” the voice asked and Riddick could tell already who was asking.
“Why do you want to know. Necro?” Dahl snarled.
A huge sigh could be heard over the line. “Because the man Riddick, was betrayed on that planet, and if he’s still there I need to go get him. Now answer me, is Riddick still there?”
Riddick leaned over and hits the open comms button. “Vaako, I’m gonna kill you. The Necros are going to need a new Lord Marshal if i lay eyes on you again.”
“Too late, Riddick.” Vaako chuckled. “They already have a new Lord Marshal. Krone, my Lady and I had a disagreement. Are you well? Unhurt? Safe?”
Riddick grunted but sat down again. “What are you doing here, Vaako?”
“We need to land and talk Riddick. There are things I’ve found out. I got into the private Lord Marshals files. Zhylaw kept secrets. I think you’ll want to know what I’ve found.” Vaako’s voice was serious.
Riddick sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. He felt Johns eyes on him. He could hear Dahl breathing even as she looked forward at the instruments. Riddick nodded again. Johns huffed out a sigh and turned back to the communications line.
“Follow us. I’ll land somewhere close. Don’t get lost, Vaako. My name’s Boss Johns. Don’t piss me off.”
“Anything you say Boss Johns. I’ll follow,” Vaako’s voice sounded amused to Riddick. That surprised him, because the Necro had absolutely no sense of humor.
“So, tell me about this guy,” Johns voice was neutral.
“First Among Generals. He found the information that got me on that planet. Thought he was the one that sold me out. Sent me there to die. Maybe he wasn’t. I’ll talk to him. If I don’t like what he says, this time, I’m going to kill him.” Riddick told them flatly.
“I can understand that,” Johns chuckled. “How long you want me to make him wait. A couple hours? Days?”
Riddick looked around the small ship and shrugged. “I need a shower and a nap before I talk to him.”
“Easy done,” Dahl said with a wicked little grin. “I’ll set a course for the nearest decent space port then, shall I?”
“I always liked the way you think,”Johns told her.
Riddick huffed a dark chuckle and stood. “Cleansing unit this way?”
“All the way back. Black door.” Dahl called after him.
Hours later Riddick sat up when he felt the ship enter an orbit. “Spaceport?”
“We’re entering Socarus 3’s orbit. I’ve already authorized entry. I don’t know if someone will come after you here. Socarus 3 isn’t the most law abiding planet but you can never tell. So watch yourself. Dahl and I will watch your back.”
Riddick straightened slowly. “You don’t have to stay,” he said carefully.
Johns shrugged and looked at Dahl. “Nothing pressing at the moment and I got more questions that I think we’ll find answers for if I stick around you for a bit longer.”
“Suit yourself.” Riddick hit the button to open the bay door, adjusted his goggles and waited.
“Your Necro landed right beside us,” Dahl said from the copilot seat.
“He ain’t my Necro,” Riddick growled.
“Well he sure as hell ain’t mine?” She snarked back.
Riddick huffed but went back to watching the other shuttle. The boarding hatch was opening and Riddick could just make out two feet descending on it. He readied himself and before the hatch set down Riddick was off. He was out of Johns’ ship and across to Vaako. He had the Necromonger pinned against the wall of his landing bay with a blade to his throat in mere seconds.
Vaako didn’t protest. He went limp and let Riddick threaten his un-life without a fight.
“Is this your due time, Vaako? Are you ready to enter your Underverse?”
“I’ll never see Underverse. I gave up that right when I decided finding you was more important.” Vaako answered, angling his chin up and away.
Riddick grunted but everything in him believed Vaako was telling him the truth. He needed answers though. “Why did you lie to me? Set me up? I made you Lord Marshal and left the Necros to you. Why try and kill me?”
Vaako’s shoulders dropped. “It wasn’t me,” he sighed. “The information was planted. Took me a bit to dig through the encryptions but I eventually found out what and who. And well even why I suppose. But it wasn’t me. Betrayal isn’t…” Vaako trailed off.
“Isn’t what V. Isn’t what you do? Cause I remember Zhylaw. You tried to kill him too. Betrayed him too.” Riddick pressed the blade further into his throat.
“No!” Vaako pushed at Riddick angrily. Riddick stayed put. “I never betrayed Zhylaw,” Vaako sighed. “He betrayed his people. The ones he was charged with leading to Underverse. His cowardice. His fear of you. That’s what betrayed him. I would have gladly followed Zhylaw wherever he lead me. But I couldn’t follow a Lord Marshal who felt fear. Fear is not the Necromonger way. Fear, emotion, love, hate. They can not exist. And he exhibited all of them. Zhylaw led to his own destruction. And I willingly supported you as Lord Marshal from the beginning. Riddick, I didn’t betray you.
“I knew you didn’t want to be Lord Marshall. Your hate if everything and everyone Necromonger was, is, almost another physical presence in the room with you. If you didn’t leave there would have been chaos. Bloodshed. They would have killed you Riddick.”
“And what would you have done? Vaako. What would you have done?” Riddick asked deadly soft.
“I would have defended you. Died defending you. As was my duty and my right. You didn’t betray your people Riddick. The Necromongers were never yours to betray. You took them but never wanted to lead them. It was my right to fight and die for you. And would have been my honour.” Vaako stood straight again.
Riddick heard the truth in Vaako’s words. He took the blade from Vaako’s throat but kept him pinned. He put his face to Vaako’s neck and sniffed. Riddick heard truth, smelled truth. Vaako wasn’t lying to him. He stepped back and sheathed his blades.
“So, you’re not gonna kill him. I guess that’s a good thing. No blood to clean up. I just got most of it out of my pants,” Dahl remarked, then chuckled at the three looks she got. She strolled off. “I’m going to look around. Only chance I might have of looking over a Necro ship without the risk of being Converted. There’s no risk right? You’re not about to try and Convert me are you?”
Riddick looked back at Vaako, noticing he looked uncomfortable.
“I’m not in any position to Convert anyone. When I decided to come after him I had to leave…” Vaako looked at his feet.
“Explain what that all means,” Riddick grabbed Vaako’s chin and pulled his face around to face him.
“It means I was given a choice. Stay and be a Necromonger. Try and leave and if you survive find your own path. I obviously left. I left a trail of Necromongers behind me who’s time it was, hopefully.” Vaako answered.
“Does that mean you can leave the Necros?” Johns asked.
“If one can fight their way out, one can leave anything. The difficult part is fight through the gauntlet between you and being out. Then for Necromongers there is the DeConversion Process. That’s something else one has to survive,” Vaako almost pouted.
“Take your look around, Dahl. Don’t touch anything. We’ll be inside Johns ship when you’re done.” Riddick wrapped a hand around Vaako’s neck and pushed him down the hold and out. He distantly heard Johns ask Dahl when Riddick started giving him orders. He grinned when she answered, “from minute one,” because she was right.
He walked Vaako into Johns ship and pushed him into a chair. Vaako slouched in the chair. He began to run his hands through his hair, then sighed and growled before balling his hands in the braids still there. He started pulling at them.
Riddick huffed and went over to him. He curled his fingers around Vaako’s and held him still before carefully prying his fingers loose from the braids. “So, you wanna get rid of these?” he asked softly.
Vaako stiffened for a few seconds, his hands resting in Riddick’s. “Yes,” he whispered.
“Alright. Lets see where we start.” Riddick carefully tugged out one braid and ran it through his fingers to the end. He pulled off the bead clasping it and started to unravel the braid he held. He kept going until he was holding loose strands of hair. He wrapped the dark lock around his finger, tugging on it gently. “So why did you decide to come get me? You didn’t answer that.” Riddick started on another braid.
Vaako shrugged but didn’t answer. After a few seconds of silence, Riddick tugged sharply on the braid he was undoing. “Vaako.”
“Because I didn’t want you thinking I had set you up. Because I’d found out the truth and wanted you to know it wasn’t me. Because I had information and I thought you should see it, Vaako said grudgingly.
“Can you ever go back to the Necros after this?” Riddick asked, sliding another freed lock of hair through his fingers.
Vaako stiffened again before visibly forcing himself to relax. Then he shook his head. “No. No one leaves. No one comes back. You only get one chance to see Underverse. If you don’t want Underverse, Underverse doesn’t want you.”
Riddick scoffed and tugged the next braid he was about to start on from where it was nestled among many others. “That’s Hellcat shit, you know that right? All that Underverse crap. It’s just a story the first Lord Marshal made up because he lost his mind when he lost his family. Then everyone else bought it and y’all just decided to commit genocide on a universal scale. Don’t tell me you still believe it. You had access to the same historical diaries I did as Lord Marshal. Tell me you read them.”
“I read them. I know. But accepting it even after reading it, it’s hard. The conversion process, the Purification. The Cleansings. It all makes it very difficult to leave it all behind. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had to choose between heading to Underverse and coming after you. I’m still not sure why I came after you, beside my damned honor. I don’t even know if my honor was worth it. I just don’t know.” Vaako dropped his head into both hands and breathed heavily for a few seconds.
Riddick just kept working on the other man’s hair. Every time Riddick undid braid he’d wrap it around his finger and marvel at how soft it was. Even the hair goop Vaako had through it to help keep it in place didn’t detract from the softness and shine. So while Vaako had his little existential crisis of faith Riddick kept undoing braid after braid of the other man’s hair.
He was a quarter of the way through by the time Johns and Dahl came back aboard. Johns walked to the pilot chair and sat down, while Dahl leaned on the hatch after she closed it. “So,” Johns began. “What are we doing?”
Vaako raised his head and looked around him.
“You said you had information.” Dahl casually hit the hatch lock then started to finger her laser rifle.
“For some reason, they’ve decided to stick with me for a while at least. So, tell us what you got.” Riddick tugged another braid loose and started to work on it.
Vaako looked around then started to wiggle, he snaked a hand into his boot and pulled out a data rod. “Some of what’s on this probably shouldn’t be seen by anyone other than the Lord Marshal, but there are also coordinates here to the last known location of Furya. Zhylaw had everything about it erased from as many records as possible, accept his own. There are also other people here. There are rumours about them. Strong, fast, deadly in a fight, great night vision. I don’t know if you want to track them down, but I took the information about them just in case. Riddick, what you do with the information is up to you. Its yours.”
“I know,” Riddick said flatly. “Question is, what am I going to do with you?”
Vaako turned his head sharply, almost pulling some of his own hair out. “What do you mean, me?”
Riddick smirked at him. Johns leaned over and plucked the data rod from his lax fingers. Riddick saw Johns wave a hand at Dahl to come forward and deal with the rod.
“Are you going to kill me?” Vaako asked, his voice soft but no less lethal.
The smirk never left Riddick’s face. He hadn’t let go of the braid in his hand, his fingers still deftly unweaving it. “Wanna come for a joy ride, Vaaaaaako?” he teased.
“Fine,” Vaako slumped back in is seat, pouting when Riddick tugged his hair again.
Riddick was really enjoying tugging Vaako’s hair. The uptight former Necro needed as much tugging loose as possible.
“We need to get rid of the Necro ship’” Dahl said from the co-pilot seat where she was scrolling through the information on the data rod.
“What? Why?” Vaako demanded.
“Too obvious, Dead boy,” Johns answered. He was scrolling and tapping on a tablet. “I got some contacts. They’re always interested. Want me to contact them?”
“My ship is ten times better than this one,” Vaako snarled, eyes narrowed.
“Maybe. But your ship will also scare people into thinking you’re a Necro forerunner coming to call them to Purification. Where as my baby here, has all the permits and permissions necessary for a Bounty Hunter. That means we have means and opportunity to go anywhere unmolested.” Johns leaned back in his chair grinning, one hand still absently patting his ship’s console
Riddick chuckled. “Wanna smoke? Or should we just leave you two alone?” he asked Johns who suddenly had a blush rising to his cheeks. Dahl laughed out loud and threw a wink at Riddick who wiggled his eyebrows at her.
Vaako huffed at the antics and crossed his arms petulantly.
“Aww, don’t worry ex Necro boy, I won’t try to steal the big bad Riddick away from you. He’s not my anatomical type.” Dahl winked at Vaako then turned her attention back to her screen.
Riddick could see Vaako was confused and smiled softly, keeping the smile on his face even when the other man looked up at him. “You’ll do fine,” he whispered. ‘’We need to sell your ship. Anything you want from it? We can do a run over and grab it.”
Vaako nodded once and settled down again.
“Johns, contact your friends. We’ll go back and clear it of anything Vaako wants to keep later.”
“On it Riddick,” Johns told him.
It took Johns just over four hours to get the Necro ship sold and the credits turned over to them. Vaako still wasn’t happy, but Riddick had kept his promise and taken Vaako back to the ship to clear it of anything Vaako thought was important. There hadn’t been much. A long dark leather coat, some blades and a heap of data rods. The former Necro travelled as light as Riddick did. Somehow Riddick didn’t think it had been by choice. He’d have to see if he could do something about that. The thought brought him up short. Why was he thinking about making the other man comfortable? Why should he care? Yeah the lost look in Vaako’s eyes was getting to him. Hell every time he saw it he just wanted to wrap the guy up in Havanis ovium wool, the softest wool was from that particular four legged animal, and let it keep him safe.
Riddick shook his head at his own idiocy, but couldn’t help glancing at the door of the cleansing unit, where Vaako was getting clean. He paced past it again, turned on his heel, ready to keep pacing and almost ran into Dahl. she wrapped her fists into his jacket and started to pull him back to their seats.
“He is not going to drown in there. I’m sure Necros know how to use a cleansing unit. He needs you close, but not breathing down his neck,” she grumbled as she pushed him into a seat.
“What are you talking about?” he demanded.
She rolled her eyes at him. “Think about it. He gave up everything, for you. He risked everything, for you. He may not realise it yet, but he did all of this, for you. Now you don’t be an asshole and be good to him and if you’re not interested, one, let him down easy and, two, if you’re not interested in that, what the hell is wrong with you.”
Riddick didn’t want to think about it, not yet. “Where are we heading first?” he asked.
“To pick up your Hellcats.”
Riddick turned back to Vaako. “My cats?”
Vaako looked uncomfortable again. “It was either drop them on a planet or space them. I didn’t want them spaced so we left them on a planet. A really nice planet. Full of prey for them to hunt.”
Riddick raised his brows. “Did you ever think about what they’d do to that planet? They’re an Apex predator. They could decimate the entire food chain. Get us there Dahl.” He looked back at Vaako. “I can’t believe you dumped them on a damned planet,” he muttered.
“They tried to eat people. What was I supposed to do?” Vaako demanded.
“Easy. Most of your people suck. So let ‘em. They could have thinned out the assholes,” Riddick shot back.
“Probably should have,” Vaako agreed reluctantly, rubbing at a shoulder.
Riddick noticed the movement and went to where Vaako was sitting. Without warning he pulled the other man’s hand away and started to pull at the Necromonger armour, ignoring Vaako’s protests and squirming. In a minute Riddick had him stripped to the waist and was carefully prodding at the bruising along one shoulder and collarbone.
“You done growling there, Riddick?” Dahl calked from her seat.
Riddick stopped short. He hadn’t realized he’d been growling until Dahl pointed it out. He humphed in annoyance without acknowledging his reaction outwardly. Inwardly however he knew he’d been growling since he’d first seen Vaako’s chest with its network of bruises. “When you said you had to fight your way out you weren’t kidding were you?” He muttered.
Vaako shrugged and tried to hide the wince.
Riddick sighed. “Dahl, you got anything for pain or bruising in that pack of yours?”
“There’s a palm regenerative and painkil hypos. Take your pick, but, I’m not sure what will work on a Necro,” she answered.
“The regen will be enough. The hypos are useless until the last Purification is out of my system.” His voice calm, flat.
Nodding Riddick went to find the regen. Taking the unit out of the first aid kit and powered it on. Grunting when it showed a full battery. “Dahl sure likes to keep this thing stocked and ready,” he commented teasingly.
Dahl sent a snort his way. “Just wait till I have to use it to stitch up your ass.”
Grinning Riddick started running the regen over Vaako’s bruises. Grunting in satisfaction as only clear healthy skin remained after each pass. The skin was still too pale though and that bothered him. “How long before the Purification wears off?”
“We purify every 4x7 cycles. My last Purification was a 3x7 cycle ago. So it’ll start to wear off soon.” Vaako relaxed back in his chair resigned to the treatment now. And Riddick kept the palm held machine on the move.
“What happens?” Johns asked curious.
Vaako looked at his hands, clenched on the armrests of his chair. “I start to feel, Breeder. That’s what happens. I start to feel. Physical and emotional sensations come back. Last time I allowed myself to miss a Purification was half a lifetime ago. The emotions almost destroyed me.”
“It’s interesting that you chose to come after Riddick and face that again,” Dahl said softly.
“Seems to have been a waste. He’s already got you two,” Vaako told them.
“Only cause we want answers,” Johns called back.
“To what?” Vaako sounded a tiny bit interested.
Riddick turned the regen off and sat in front of Vaako. “To Dahl’s story. She’s stronger than expected. Faster. A great shot. Great sight. Adopted. And at times she has eye shine.”
Vaako looked thoughtful. “Dahl. The last file in my data rod. It’s a list of people. Men and women on different planets. Zhylaw made it. Kept an eye on them over the years. Riddick was on it. So were you.”
She shot around in her seat. “What? Why!” She demanded.
“I think he wasn’t sure who the prophecy was about so he was trying to keep an eye everywhere,” Vaako answered.
Johns scoffed. “Fat lot of good it did him. He missed the truth about Riddick completely.”
Vaako sighed and worked his way into his undershirt now Riddick had handed it back. “Zhylaw worked his way into a self fulfilling prophecy. If he’d left Furya alone, odds are Riddick would have grown up a typical Furyan. No better or worse than any other. But Zhylaw was bent on self protection and wanted any threats annihilated. Thus creating his own means of destruction. His fear of death killed him. Along with a well placed battle axe.”
Riddick chuckled. “So one 7 cycle. One standard week till you’re not necroed.”
Vaako nodded. “I think my sense of humor might be coming back faster though. I’m finding the irony in everything.”
Riddick grinned, put his feet up on the seat beside Vaako’s, effectively blocking him in, closed his eyes, crossed his arms and took a nap.
Something moving at his neck woke Riddick up. He snatched it and what it was attached to with out thinking before he even had his eyes open. The cool skin under his palm warned him and he slowly cracked his eyes open to see Vaako. He had the former Necro in a throat hold and pulled close. With one arm trapped behind his back. He’d even pushed him to his knees and was looming over him.
“Nice way to treat an ally,” Vaako croaked.
“Nice way to end up dead,” Riddick growled. He pulled back a little and surveyed Vaako where he knelt. A predator’s grin stretched his lips. “But I gotta say. I like the view.” With a wink he took his goggles away from Vaako’s lax fingers, where they sat at his neck. “And never touch these to wake me up. If I hadn’t recognized you by your skin temperature, I’d have snapped your throat.”
Vaako pulled himself away and stood. “I’m not weak Riddick. I’m not that easy to kill.”
Riddick shrugged but said nothing.
“If you’re done playing with your boy, were at the coordinates where your cats were dropped off however many cycles ago. We’ve almost landed. Get ready.” Dahl sounded like she was trying for annoyed but failed and sounded amused.
Riddick blinked innocently, pulled his goggles over his eyes and went to the hatch. As soon as he felt the ship land he toggled the hatch open and stood in the doorway.
“How are-“ Vaako stopped talking suddenly. Riddick maintained his subvocal growl. A call to his predators, his hell cats. He knew they heard him immediately because they sent one back. Five low growls coming ever closer and six thinner higher once coming with them.
Riddick quirked a brow and looked around him. Vaako and Johns looked uncomfortable but not like they could really hear anything. Dahl however had her head cocked the same as Riddick did. Concentrating on what she was hearing.
Five Hellcats broke through the scrub on this rainforest planet. The water dripping on them steaming and hissing. Around their feet six tiny pure white hellcat kits. Riddick set his stance and changed his growl. After a second all five adults offered their throats and the tiny kits were in their backs and showing their bellies.
Riddick heard Vaako stifle a laugh and had to agree. The kits were damned cute. Looking at Johns and Dahl, Riddick saw Dahl show her own throat and acknowledged her with a solemn nod. Then he whistled and Hellcats carrying kits were climbing into the ship.
“We’re gonna need a bigger ship,” Johns muttered.
Riddick watched as the adult Hellcats roamed the now tiny seeming craft. They sniffed and have low growls to everyone. The tiny white kits tumbling over themselves and everything else as Katana the Alpha bitch herded them in front of her. She sniffed Vaako from head to toe.
Riddick hid his grin when she pushed Vaako into a seat them carefully plucked each kit and put them on his lap. The man looked stunned and scared all at once. It was incongruous to see a known killer with a lap full of pretty white kits. In his mind Riddick was already calling them Angel kits and would be until they developed their parents coloring, if they developed their parents coloring. He glanced out at the rainforest environment the cats had come from and couldn't see any snow or white environs anywhere. Since he'd never seen kits before he didn't know.
Glancing back at Vaako he wandered. “Vaako, when the others wanted to kill them what did you do?”
Vaako looked up from the kit nibbling on his thumb and wincing quickly extracted it from the biting monster. “Stopped them,” he muttered distractedly pulling another kit from where it was clinging to his vest.
“Stop them huh?” Johns asked with a small snicker. “And by stop them do you mean you got between the others and the cats?”
Vaako nodded looking up when the other three started laughing.
“And was Katana looking a little fat at the time?” Riddick asked.
“Who?” Vaako asked, now starting to look pissed off.
“The cat that put all the kits in your lap. She’s the female Alpha.” Riddick pointed her out, laying on top of Vaako’s feet.
Vaako looked down at her. “Maybe.” He shrugged. “Why?”
Riddick sat in the seat in front of Vaako and started to scratch her on her head. “Because I think she was pregnant and you saved her, her kits and her pack. And now she sees you as worthy of her time and defacto protector of her kits.”
Vaako stiffened and tried to stand up, receiving a growl from all the cats and meals from the kits. “What do I do?”
“Nothing. You'll never have a better guard. Just relax.” Riddick patted his knee and one of the other beasts walked over to him and lay its head in his lap. “This is Inferno, her mate. The rest I think are her grown kits. I think they stay white till puberty maybe. I've never seen baby kits before, only juvenile and adult Hellcats. Makes sense. They're vulnerable like this.” He pointed to the kits now starting to fall asleep clinging to various part of Vaako’s clothing.
“You're different here,” Vaako observed. “Why?”
Riddick leaned back in his chair. “I've been abandoned all my life. Abandoned, left for dead. Tracked down. Arrested. People have been trying to kill me since the day I was born. I got why after I met your Necros.”
Vaako nodded. “The prophecy.”
“Hmm. Some of it. But Krone. If you didn't put him up to it who did?”
“I'm no longer a married man Riddick. Who do you think?” Vaako’s voice was sarcastic enough to sour Mandoralaan sugar juice.
Riddick lifted both eyebrows and pursed his lips. “But you were Lord Marshal.”
“But not the Lord Marshal she could control. My marriage was arranged by Zhylaw. She was a political wife. My Lady was ever ambitious. I think she started plotting against you the second Zhylaw died and transferred her plans to me once you were gone. I wouldn't be surprised if the Necromongers had a Lady Marshall by now. And I don't mean she's married the new Lord Marshall. She hungers for power and she hungers for Underverse. But you haven't explained why you're so different.”
“Probably because instead of certain people coming after me instead of abandoning me. First Johns and Dahl. Now you. You're not kids. You don't need me for anything. Dahl wants answers, but she can find them on her own. It means something to a man to not be alone. I've never known what that was. Even when I was with others, I was alone. Don't feel alone here.”
“No one can be alone in this damned ship right now,” Johns grumbled. “We’re headed to my depot. Gonna get the big baby out and take her for this spin. She's a large enough cruiser for us, your beasts and anyone else that might wanna tag along. Dahl says looks like there are about a dozen Zhylaw was keeping tabs on beside you and her. They're not far out either if the information is correct. All within light years of each other.”
“There were others, but their planets were converted or destroyed,” Dahl sounded angry and Riddick understood how she felt.
“Your ship, Johns. Your decision,” Riddick said softly.
For the first time in as long as he could remember, Riddick felt relaxed. He spent silent hours just watching Vaako being subtly and not so subtly controlled by kits and cats. He was bullied into playing and stroking, into letting his fingers be used as chew toys until one of them bit him hard enough to draw blood and Riddick had growled at them, making Katana grab the miscreant by the scruff of his neck and place him on the floor beside her, keeping one paw on his tail so he could wander off.
The older cats followed Vaako if he over from his seat. They'd followed as he went to use the facilities, trying to follow him inside the tiny room until he'd blown up at them and physically pushed them out. Katana herded him to the galley when she had smelled food there and thought it was time for him eat, keeping him there till he'd figured out she wanted him to prepare something for Riddick as well. Inferno had even tripped Vaako an hour or so later so Vaako fell into Riddick’s lap. Pushing him back down when he tried to get up. Eventually Vaako had stayed put then fallen asleep on Riddick’s shoulder.
“You are not subtle or smart,” Riddick frowned at Katana who could have easily worn a satisfied grin. “Aren't you supposed to throw me at Dahl. For breeding purposes if nothing else?”
Katana just yawned and showed him her teeth.
Dahl walked past and patted her on the head. “Smart. Brilliant. Ferocious girl,” she crooned. “I'm going to sack out in my bunk for a few. I'll spell Johns later. Our first stop is on our depot planet. The other stops are within hours. After that, if you want, we can head to the coordinates Vaako has for Furya.”
Riddick nodded carefully, not wanting to disturb the still sleeping former Necro. Having the Purification process wearing off seemed to be exhausting the man. While they left him alone Riddick was thinking. About everything. No one had ever accused him of being smart but no idiot ever escaped slam after slam and stayed ahead of bounty hunters all over the galaxy.
So Riddick knew he wasn’t a dumb man, but how he’d found himself here was still a mystery to him. One second he’s sure he’s gonna die on some freaking planet more monster than rock. Then the monsters are blown to hell and Dahl’s there wrapping her pretty legs around him and pulling him to safety. And now Vaako. Riddick looked at the man sleeping on his shoulder.
Vaako was another surprise. Riddick had been sure Vaako had set him up. Tried to get him killed. Of coarse it made a hell of a lot more sense if the dame had been the mastermind. A smarter woman he had never met. Now if she was headed for Underverse, he sorta felt sorry for Underverse.
Vaako though had given up everything for him. Everything. Why? What had been so important to Vaako. What? He'd caught his way off the ship and probably out of the fleet, his shuttle had blaster marks on it. His body had been bruised and in pain, even if he barely registered it. Riddick knew just how good a fighter Vaako was, so he wasn't surprised the man had won through but that didn't mean it had been easy. Hell Riddick knew he'd have had a hard time of it himself, but just like Vaako, he'd have gone through if he'd had a reason. For Riddick, survival was always reason enough, but was that enough for Vaako? Somehow Riddick doubted it.
Movement caught his eye and he looked down. The tiniest of the Angel-kits had crawled its way into Vaako’s lap, curled up there and gone to sleep. Riddick grinned. Vaako may not realize it but he'd been adopted. By a pride of Hellcats and Angel-kits. Katana looked up from where she lay at their feet, kits draped all over her. She yawned once and lay her head back down. She trusted her kit in Vaako’s care. Maybe she understood what Riddick did not.
Johns bigger ship was a large people transport. It had tiny cabins, a decent galley and mess, communal leisure facilities, a pilots compartment and holding cells. The bounty hunter obviously used it when he needed a bigger crew for bigger hauls. Riddick didn't worry about it. Johns had a living to make and had so far treated him fine, so Riddick shrugged and hit the button to disassemble the cages, watching as the bars retreated into the ceiling and floors. Once done he whistled and the Pride walked through the doorway following their Alpha. She sniffed, they sniffed, the kits tried to sniff and sneezed. Katana gave the area a thorough investigation, then once satisfied came and sat beside Riddick’s legs and the rest of her pride bounded forward, kits already rolling and play fighting.
“Looks like they needed a stretch,” Riddick murmured scratching her head.
“They look like their having fun,” Vaako said smiling at the acrobatics display in the room. “If you wanted to train or spar, Dahl says there are facilities for that too here.”
“Makes sense. She tell you where?”
“Yeah. Level 2, near the sleeping quarters,” Vaako nodded then lifted his chin up, indicating the level above them. Johns ship was a quad-level. The fourth level dedicated to engines and other systems. The third the hold and storage of everything and everyone. The second held the crew and guest quarters, if Johns ever carried welcome guests. And apparently also holding physical rec facilities. The top or first level was operations. Johns and Dahl flew the ship from there, it also held an observation lounge that Riddick had sat in for a while before bringing the cats down her to play. The floors were accessed through a lift system that Riddick knew the older cats could work, since hell, they roamed the Necro basilica like they owned the place. In fact Katana had watched him carefully as he'd explained each button to her.
Riddick and Vaako turned to leave. They stopped at the small huff they heard and turned back to see Katana looking at them. “We’ll be on level two,” Riddick told her. “Doing what their doing.” He pointed to the cavorting pride, turned around and left the hold.
“You talk to her?” Vaako asked, voice trying for snide and failing.
“You don't?” Riddick shot back.
“Think they understand?” Vaako asked softly.
Riddick didn't answer just gave a shrug.
They stood in the doorway of the room they figured was for training. Mirrors on one wall. Different sizes and weights of bags hung from the ceiling. Poles with strange protrusions were bolted to the floor but could still spin. Riddick grinned and walked inside, adjusting his goggles as he went. He started pointing. “Strength training over there. Weight training there. Martial arts and if I'm not wrong, laser drone targeting systems. Nice Johns, nice.”
Minutes later he and Vaako were diving and contorting themselves as they dodged the drones firing zap lasers at them. The hits didn't hurt, but they did sting, so while getting hit wasn't a problem, it was an irritation.
They stopped when the drones returned to their charging stations. By then Riddick and Vaako were soaked through and in better moods. Grinning, the first grin Riddick had ever seen on his face, Vaako opened the training room door and stopped short. Outside was pile of Angel-kits with Hellcats seated around them, all looking bored.
“Well that answers if they understand or not,” Vaako said.
Riddick leaned his chin on Vaako’s shoulder to get a better look and snorted. “Yep.” Then he pushed the man gently to get him moving again instead of blocking the doorway. “Come on. There should be a shower somewhere with our name on it.”
Vaako stopped moving again. “Our?”
Riddick thought back over what he'd said while he looked carefully at the other man. There was a slight blush climbing up Vaako’ s cheeks and their exertions has shown him that the Necromonger purification was slowly but steadily wearing off. Well, wasn't this interesting. Riddick slowly moved forward until the two were chest to chest, then he kept pushing until Vaako was pressed against the bulkhead. Riddick knew his grin was predatory. Knew that most men would try to flee when he grinned at them like this. He’d never met a man that would willingly be backed against any hard surface by Riddick wearing that grin. Vaako kept surprising him.
The other mans blush had deepened. His breaths were short and quick. There was a fresh light sweat on his forehead. The Vaako’s gaze went to Riddick’s lips and Riddick knew everything he needed to know for now. He pushed a knee between Vaako’s legs, planted his hands on either side of the other mans head and slowly brought his lips to Vaako’s parted ones.
Riddick wanted the kiss to be wild and fierce. He wanted to dominate the other man. One always had to be dominant in slams, even if kissing was rare. But he couldn't do it. The kiss was soft and gentle, something he'd never done before. It was deep and long. So very new to him. He felt Vaako sigh and shift until he was wrapped around Riddick clinging to him, like Riddick was the one solid surface in a storm. Riddick set his feet and strengthened his stance so he could be a solid support for the other man, he wrapped his arms tightly around the muscular frame and shared himself with Vaako. Shared his strength. His belief. His soul in that kiss, just as Vaako was doing. Sharing his sense of loss over everything that he had been before the Necromongers took him and after he’d fought his way free.
Riddick understood. They weren't so different. Both had lost so much to the same race. One might have found a future with them for a time, but his own sense of right had made it impossible to stay. The other knew he would either destroy them or they would destroy him and his sense of survival made it unthinkable to allow himself to be destroyed.
When they finally pulled apart they were panting softly into each other’s parted lips. Vaako looked dazed, his lips kiss swollen, damp and red. Riddick watched them hungry for more. “When your Purification wears off we’ll take this further. I need you understanding and feeling everything.”
“Wh-what?” Vaako stuttered.
Riddick smiled softly. “Soon Vaako. Soon.”
Vaako sighed and thumped his forehead on Riddick’s chest. “I know there’s a word to call you, but I can't think of it right now,” he groaned.
“The word is tease, Vaako. And whoever thought Riddick would be a fucking tease. God, that's a show I wouldn't mind watching, and I don't even like guys,” Dahl grinned unrepentant at them just out of reach in the hallway.
Riddick gave a mock growl and made a lunge for her anyway, only to find he still had a clinging Vaako wrapped around him.
Dahl ducked away and chuckled. “The Boss says were almost at the first stop.” She ran off still chuckling.
Riddick slumped but grinned softly. “Definitely time for a shower or a cleanse cycle, whichever this ship has to offer.” Vaako nodded and they went to find out.
“Who are we looking for?” Vaako asked, standing in the shade of a building and watching as men unloaded transporters. Some using exoskels to aid them in lifting the heavy boxes they'd pace them onto a hover platform before walking back to the transporter for another. Dahl had her eyes on a burly man, in a tattered singlet and pants. He was bigger than most. Stronger too judging by how many trios he made compared to the others. She glanced down at the tablet in her hand as if the confirm she was right. “His name is Skalor. Found behind a restaurant kitchen at seven. Can't remember much of his life before that, or won't. Been in and out of foster houses, never stayed long. Usually ran away. Looks mean and tough as fuck, rumor says he’s an, Angel-kit, at heart. Boss is seeing what he can learn.”
Riddick watched the other man for a few seconds then stepped out of the shadows, Dahl and Vaako both cursed but followed behind him. He made straight for the large man, stride purposeful. They were stopped by four men in exoskels baring the way.
“Move,” Riddick growled.
The four stayed put. “No one bugs Skalor. Leave him alone. He don't want no trouble,” one of the said.
Riddick narrowed his eyes behind his goggles. “Move.”
“Riddick wait,” Vaako placed a hand on his shoulder. “We don't want to hurt Skalor, just talk to him.”
“Necros don't talk. Killers either.” Another said.
Dahl took a step forward. “Well I ain't Necro or killer, can I talk?” She smiled sweetly.
The four looked confused by her. But still wouldn't move. Riddick was fast losing his patience. He felt Vaako lean into him and cocked an ear to listen. “That thing you did to call the cats to you. Do it now.”
Riddick grunted in quiet question.
“Dahl reacted like the cats did. I think it might be important,” Vaako whispered back.
Riddick didn’t nod. Didn’t move. He set his feet and let out a subvocal growl. Vaako watched and saw Skalor stiffen and raise his head. Saw his shoulders push back so his chest pushed out proud. His head turned in their direction. He walked over to them, pushed his way through his group of protectors carefully and sank to one knee in front of Riddick, his chin tilted to offer his throat.
“Are you here to kill me or take me home, Alpha?” He asked even as his friends bristled.
Riddick crossed his arms over his chest. “Have you done something I should kill you for?”
Skalor shrugged. “I killed whoever tried to kill me.”
“Can’t see a problem with that. We’re trying to get home. You wanna come?” Riddick asked softly.
Skalor gave him a beaming smile and stood. “I can protect your mate Alpha. I’m very strong.” Skalor looked between Riddick, Dahl, Johns and Vaako.
“Don’t look at me,” Dahl scoffed holding out both hands quickly.
Johns started to laugh, while Vaako scowled at the new man. With a satisfied nod and grin, Skalor went to stand behind Vaako making him almost choke.
Riddick chuckled. “We’re taking Skalor with us. Any of you coming? Our ship takes off in an hour.” Turning, he headed back to the ship. His little band in tow. He had things to think about.
An hour later and Johns was heading for orbit. Skalor’s friends had all dropped by, having packed his things, they brought them to him. The man didn’t have much, just his clothes, a couple of knives and a few knick knacky things that seemed to hold some sentimental value for him. Riddick watched the other man. Skalor was sitting behind Vaako. Had been within two feet of the other man since he had followed them from his work site.
“Skalor. What’s your story?” Dahl came over to them and handed out bottles of juice.
Riddick looked at his bottle before twisting off the top and sniffing it. He heard Dahl scoff at him and watched her down half her bottle in two long swallows. He grinned at her and took a swallow of his own. She shook her head and ran her forearm over her lips, chuckling softly.
“Yeah Skalor. What’s your story?” he asked using his bottle as a means of pointing.
Skalor shrugged. “My mom dropped me off on Tiba 4. I was 7 cycles. She told me to hide and survive. Find the Alpha and he and his mate would take me back home. I’ve been hopping planets ever since, just waiting for you. I’m not the only one. Mom said a lot of parents did the same thing, because the Alpha might need help when he was ready and it also hid him from the dead folks. Mom also Said I should always sound slow. So that’s how I always talk. I’m not.”
Riddick nodded, he looked to Vaako who was looking thoughtful. “Vaako?”
“Hmm, I’m just wondering how many prophecies about you are out there.” Vaako opened his own bottle but didn’t drink from it, just stared at it. “The Necromongers had one. The Elementals. The Furyans, by the sound of it. Who else?”
Riddick shrugged. “Who knows? Who cares? All the prophecies can kiss my ass. They’ve been nothing but trouble for me.”
Vaako nodded and turned his attention to Dahl. “What do you remember?”
She finished her drink thoughtfully. “Not much.” She ran her hand through her hair. “I guess I was too young to remember much of my life from before I got adopted. Like I said before, my dad found me in a refugee camp on Ralla. He was on a Medical Exchange. I was about three or four. Don’t know how long I’d been there. How or why. I never asked. He took me home to my Mom and that was that. Didn’t know about the Shine till you pointed it out. Only knew I was strong and fast, that was all that mattered. Is everything we hear about you true?”
“Yeah Riddick, is it?” Johns asked as he sat in the lounge area with them. “Don’t worry I’ve put this baby on autopilot. Someone grab me a juice from the frig.”
Dahl leaned over and grabbed one for him. “Riddick?”
Riddick sniffed and leaned back in his chair, lacing his fingers over his chest. “Somes’ true. Some ain’t. Found behind a dumpster? True. Killed my first man at seven? Not true. The number of people I’ve killed? Who knows. I’ve probably killed people no one knows about and been blamed for people I never killed. Truth is, if people leave me alone, I ain’t got no need to kill ‘em. Some crap’s real and some’s not. I lost track of it all years ago. Who’s next on the list?”
Dahl pulled out a tablet from her pocket and looked at it for a few seconds. “Name’s Longo.. You wanna do this the same way as Skalor?”
Riddick nodded slowly. “Yeah probably.”
“We’re two days out from the coordinates Vaako gave us for Furya.” Johns sat beside Riddick and sighed.
“You need some rest, Boss,” Riddick said softly.
Boss Johns had been at the helm of his big baby almost permanently since they’d boarded. He looked exhausted.
“Yeah I know.” Johns ran both hands through his hair. “Don’t like to sleep when I have this many people roaming about my ship, but I promised Dahl I’ll sack out for a few hours before we hit orbit. Heading to my quarters now actually. How are you holding out? This must be, unnerving, finding so many of your people after thinking you were alone all these years.”
“It’s a mind fuck. Most of them are in the training room.”
“Yeah I know. I’m probably going to have to replace everything in there soon. Where are the cats?” Johns asked.
“Adults are down in the hold, training. The kits were crawling all over Vaako, last I saw,” Riddick answered.
“Wish you were one of those kits,” Johns asked softly.
Riddick shot a look at him. “What?” his voice was short and flat.
Johns sighed. “You’re attracted to him. Anyone can see it. You look at him like he’s your last meal. Dahl can’t believe you haven’t made a move on him yet.”
Riddick refused to say anything.
“If it makes you feel any better, he’s interested in you too.” Johns whispered, before standing. “Very interested,” he whispered before walking away.
Riddick growled after the man. Just because Vaako might be interested in him did not mean he wanted Riddick to do something about it. Riddick growled again, stood from the table and walked off to see what the cats were doing. He felt like rolling with the hellcats for a while. Katana would give him a good work out.
He wasn’t wrong, Katana kept pinning him, either alone or with help. She had him on his back again, with her teeth at his throat when Riddick heard a throat clearing. Looking up he saw Vaako standing there, with five angel kits holding on to him. The other man looked so annoyed that Riddick burst out laughing.
“I don’t see what’s so funny. I can’t so much as turn around without tripping over one of them. I managed to lock myself in my quarters, alone for about a quarter, then as soon as I stepped out again, I got ambushed. Yes I do mean ambushed. The damned things were lurking and then they ALL pounced on me at once. What the hell am I, prey?” Vaako growled and grumbled at the same time.
Riddick tapped Katana who reluctantly let him up. He climbed to his feet, dusting himself off and starting plucking kits off the irate man, setting them next to their mother. He gave them a low growl when they tried to latch onto Vaako again and they gave it up as a lost cause and quickly started to hunt each other.
Vaako sighed when the last kit was on the ground and shook himself. Then he narrowed his eyes as four of the kits rounded on the tiniest one and started to stalk it. With a half growl he swooped down and picked the kit back up, setting it on his shoulder. “It’s the smallest one and they always try to stalk her. I’m fine with it when it’s just play but sometimes they get too rough. So, explain to me what is going on with these kits. I know you know something.” Vaako crossed his arms and waited.
Riddick looked around them for a place to sit, seeing nothing he motion upward. “Let’s get some grub and I’ll tell you what I think. Where are the others?”
“Oh you mean Dahl’s new toys? She’s having a great deal of fun putting them through their paces. She’s got the ship on Auto until we get close to the planet. It’ll wake Boss and let her know when we get there. In the mean-time, she’s proving she’s the meanest and baddest of the bunch and loving it. She even got my Skalor shaped shadow involved. Told him he’d be shit for a bodyguard if he couldn’t fight at least as half as well as you.”
“How’d he take it? How’d they all take it?” Riddick asked.
“Seeing as half of them have some sort of criminal record, remarkably well. Or at least they did after she basically kicked their asses and sniped them over half the ship. That woman is a menace and they are all slightly afraid of her, and want to climb into her pants at the same time.” Vaako finished as they opened one of the frigs in the galley.
“Good luck with that. Only one I think stands a chance is Mara. is she in training too?” Riddick asked pulling out some meat and a couple of drinks.
“Yeah, even Mara. Dahl insisted she learn to protect herself at least.”
Riddick thought about the young woman. Her father had been on Zhylaw’s list, but not her. She hadn’t been mentioned at all. “How careful was Zhylaw when he was making his list? How could he miss one of them having a kid?”
“I doubted he really cared. He was only interested in his interpretation of the prophecy. Marlo having a child is probably why Zhylaw basically ignored him, he just never mentioned the child, only that he thought the man was unsuitable. In a way he was right. Marlo never ventured off planet once Mara was born,” Vaako said, grabbing them both a knife and sitting down across from Riddick.
They cut from the cooked meat and ate it with the bread always on the table, both of them hand feeding little bits of the meat to the kit still draped on Vaako’s shoulder. Riddick thought about the girl. She was around twenty three complete cycles old. A young woman. When they had gotten to the planet, looking for her father, they had found her.
She took one look at them. “About time you got here. Dad told me to wait here for when the Alpha came to take me home. So I waited, even after he died, I waited. So let’s go home.” She’d packed her bags and led them back to the ship. Dahl had grinned all the way back.
“With that mouth on her I’m surprised she’s not a better fighter,” Riddick commented.
“She can hold her own. At least against the calibre of fighter from that backwater she was living in, but not against anyone else here. But her tongue is vicious enough to rip anyone to shreds. I’m pretty sure Dahl’s in love already.” Vaako smirked.
“Nice to have her attention somewhere else,” Riddick grinned. “So we ever gonna talk about it?”
Vaako swallowed. “About what?”
Riddick purposefully tapped the other man’s ankle under the table where their feet were tangled together. Their feet were always tangled together now if they sat. they touched each other constantly if they were in the same room. Shoulders would bump. Hands would stroke. And they sought each other out. All.The.Time. Riddick didn’t hate it. Wasn’t sure he understood it. Had never had anything like it and knew he wanted more of it. “Answer me this Vaako. If I came to your quarters one sleep cycle and climbed all over you in bed, would you fight me, or, let me do whatever I wanted to you?”
“That would depend,” Vaako said, his voice sounding husky. “On what you wanted to do to me when you got there.”
Riddick grinned and leaned over the table. “Play your body like a lute until you begged me to take you and let you scream out my name.”
Riddick watched as the blush that had been threatening on Vaako’s cheeks covered him from forehead to neck. He stood from his chair slowly and walked around the other man. Leaning down he sniffed at Vaako’s hair. It smelled of the sharp fruit oil Vaako ran through it to keep it tame. Riddick loved the smell and buried his face in that long black hair. He felt a tapping on his cheek and looked over to see the little Angel kit stretching her paw out to him. He grinned and scratched her head. She angled her head and nipped at his finger playfully. Riddick chuckled, feeling Vaako shiver. “When I do come to your bed, I’ll tell Katana to keep her kits corralled. Only biting I want is between us.”
“So you decided you’re going to huh?” Vaako whispered.
Riddick leaned down and kissed the top of Vaako’s head. “Tell me it’s not something we both want and I’ll stay away. Tell me you’re not ready and I’ll stay away.”
“I can’t. But I also can’t do casual or, sharing or-or bed hopping. When I let someone into my bed, it’s because I want them there for a long time. Even my politically motivated Lady wife. Even in the worst of times, when I knew myself betrayed, I could not, would not stray from her bed. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Vaako asked softly.
“You’re physically faithful to the point of stupid? I get it. I also know that you were mine from the day I kill Zhylaw and your Lady knew it. That’s probably why she tried to off us both. And Vaako, only reason I’ve never been faithful to a lover is because I never had the chance. Living on the run and slams don’t make that possible,” Riddick answered. He combed his finger through Vaako’s hair one more time then walked away, he had to check how Dahl’s training session was going. He might even join in. he had some frustrations to work off anyway.
The warning alarm had everyone but Johns and Dahl scrambling for the bridge. Johns and Dahl were already there in their seats.
“Well folks,” Johns voice drawled out. “Welcome to Furya. Your run of the mill desert planet, maybe even deserted because I can’t pick up any transmissions, and people are noisy fuckers. What do you want to do, Riddick?”
“Fly around the planet a few times. If there is anyone there let them know we’re here.” Riddick hoped he’d made the right call, but a little voice in his head said not to surprise the planet.
Johns shrugged and plotted a course.
Five hours later they were breaking atmosphere and landing on what looked like hard packed sand. And people could be seen milling around. The closer they got to the ground, the more people they could see. Once Johns had landed the ship, Dahl opened the hatch and he adjusted his goggles before stepping out, Katana and her pride ranging around them, Vaako and Dahl, at his back. The rest following suit.
The murmurings grew louder and louder as they emerged, coming to a dead quiet when Katana sat beside Riddick’s leg, leaning on him and someone noticed the Kit on Vaakos shoulder. Riddick drew Vaako to him, hooking his thumb into the back of the man’s pants.
“Staking your claim much?” Vaako whispered.
Riddick didn’t answer, just gave a tiny shrug.
Vaako had decided to wear only the chest piece of his Necromonger armour, but it still drew attention judging by the staring.
An old man walked forward. “Hail visitors. My name is Mallik. Welcome. May I ask if you are Necromongers?”
“We’re not, but it’s not like we’d admit it if we were and didn’t want you to know it,” Riddick answered.
“Oh young one, one can not lie on the sands of truth. The land itself would shake and call your lie for what it is,” Mallick said smiling indulgently.
Riddick scoffed. “Really?”
“Really. Please try.” The old man kept grinning.
“Fine, I got long blonde hair,” Riddick said. As soon as the last word was out of his mouth the land under them started to shake, rattle and roll until it was hard to keep your feet on the ground. In fact the little kits were rolling about. “Fine, fine. I’m bald. I’m bald!” Riddick exclaimed.
“As you see, the sands of truth will brook no lie. Now answer me truthfully are you and your Mate, Lord Marshals of the Necromonger Race?” The old man asked, his voice was serious but Riddick found it kind too.
Riddick looked at Vaako. “Yes,” he said confidently. And cheers exploded through the crowd. Seconds later they were being ushered into an underground room. It was massive. Riddick had never heard of anyone living under ground like this, but he’d never heard of a lot of things.
They were all pushed to sit on the ground while the old man stood in front of them. He looked around him and began speaking. “My beloved people. My beloved people of Furya. Centuries ago our most admired prophet spoke of the race of death that would try to end our very existence. To that end certain of our people made the sacrifice to leave our home and hide their children away from the killers. And succeed they did, for here are the children returned to us, under the leadership of the Lord Marshals. When the Necromongers came. The last of our Blooded Leaders locked away our Water to keep it clean. The water that makes us more. Because with that Water safe, Furya would survive. And with the coming of the Lost Ones and their Leader, Furya will return!” the old man finished with out-stretched arms to a thunder of applause.
Riddick dropped his face into his hands. “I should have never left that first Slam,” he moaned. Vaako elbowed him in the side but went Riddick ignored him he smacked him on the back of the head. Riddick lifted his head and turned it sideways. Vaako narrowed his eyes at him making Riddick sigh. “Okay. Fine. Old man. What do I gotta do?”
“You and your Mate and company must follow the Water source and free it to run the land again. To bring its life and strength to awaken a sleeping world,” Mallik intoned smiling again. The man smiled too much.
“So if your Water has been shut off, how do you live?” Vaako asked.
“No Alpha Mate, you misunderstand me. We have water. We do not have the Water of Life. That which makes Furya and her people special. The Water gifts the Shine, the Abilities, it creates the warrior others fear. With the Water back, Furya can grow again. Protect herself and protect those she had sworn to if they still wish it or have not been destroyed by others.”
Riddick huffed a sigh. “Why is there always a Prophecy? Why? Can some asshole answer that?”
Vaako elbowed him again. “Stop whining. Looks like you get company on this one.”
Riddick turned and just looked at him. He was shocked when Vaako darted forward and stole a kiss. So shocked he couldn’t react. Then it was over and Vaako was sitting back where he had started. Riddick blinked himself back. He turned back to Mallick. “Okay Old Man. Where do we go? What do we do? Who comes with me? And no more talking in riddles. Say it plain and simple.”
Mallick nodded and gestured to a young man who came running. He whispered something to him and the guy booked it out of there. “Joraq will be back shortly with some information for you. Maps and data. We aren’t as provincial as we appear. We live most of lives underground. Hidden from intruders.” Mallick turned back to the rest of his people. “Please return to your daily lives my friends. I have important information for The Alpha.”
Riddick grunted and nodded when he saw everyone but his own people filing out, many of them looking back at him. he grinned when the kids gawked at the hellcats and kits. One little boy tripped over his own feet as he was staring. Vaako took two steps and picked the kid right up, making everyone stare. Riddick went over to them and knelt beside the kid, checking he was fine and turning his chin back and forth. The kid looked around six. His front teeth were even wobbling. “What’s your name kid?”
“V-Vizig, Alpha,” he stuttered.
“Where’s your folks kid?”
Vizig shrugged looking down.
“His parents died in an accident at the quarry a couple of years ago. He has no family left, so he’s being raised at the Children’s Community. He is one of twelve and the youngest,” Mallik told them, ruffling Vizig’s hair.
Riddick looked at the dark haired boy. His hair was long, his cheekbones high, his skin pale, his eyes brown. He reminded Riddick of Vaako. “When this gets done kid. When Vaako and me come back. You come and see me okay?”
The kid nodded enthusiastically.
“Good, now run off and keep your eyes open. Look where you’re going!” Riddick called after the boy who was running already.
“What are you planning?” Vaako asked suspiciously.
Riddick wouldn’t meet his eyes. “No kid should be an orphan.” he said softly and ignored the sharp intake of breath from the other man. He turned back to Mallik who was waving away the young man he’d sent off for information minutes before.
“Why don’t you all follow me into the seating area so we talk comfortably?” he said leading the way from the room.
Riddick followed him, snagging Vaako’s hand so they could walk side by side, knowing that six other men and women were at his back and somehow he still felt relatively safe. He wandered where the itch between his shoulder blades had gone. He’d had that itch since he could remember, he suddenly felt naked without it. He must have shown some sort of reaction because Dahl stepped closer behind him.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “That’s what’s wrong. No itch between my shoulder blades, you get?”
“Hmm, yeah I get. Probably because no one here wants to kill you. At least not yet. You piss off Vaako and all bets are off.” Dahl stepped back and Riddick glanced at Vaako who was grinning at him.
“You are all assholes,” Riddick told them then grinned when they all laughed.
Mallik opened a door and showed them inside. “This is my private library. I’m the caretaker here, so it’s also my home. Please come inside and make yourselves comfortable. Then I can tell you a story.”
Riddick chose a sofa and threw himself on it, pulling Vaako with him. Dahl perched on the arm on his side, while Skalor took Vaako’s side. Mara took a chair beside Dahl, Lado, Platis and Johns took up other seats, while the hellcats and kits got comfortable in front of a lit fireplace.
Mallik pushed an armchair over so he was the center of attention and sat down. “What most of the universe calls a full cycle, we call years. So let me begin two hundred years ago. An Elemental called Gideon came to us with a prophecy, a prediction, an outcome of probability. Simply the prediction was that during the Rise of the Dead, we would become targeted for extinction. Six children would have to be sent away, our Alpha Heir among them. The Alpha of the time would have to lock away our Water of Life to stop it from being destroyed or contaminated and Furya would face it’s destruction with courage and strength. We paid little mind to it.
“We forged alliances, became an imposing race of warriors, were the guardians of planets which could not protect themselves. They would pay a tithe in currency or minerals and metals. Not so much as they would be poorer for it however. We went on with our lives. Then we heard tale of the rise and coming of the Necromongers and knew that the Elemental had been right. We prepared as much as we could. The Waters were locked off. Our most precious were sent away. Then they came and some agreed to conversion as had been decided. Our blood could not die with the planet. The converted would wait for the Alpha and give aid where they could. When the ships launched the Final Protocol we ran for our underground shelters.
“The final protocol took many. The too old and too young. We are still trying to rebuild what we lost. It has been over thirty years, but the planet is finally recovering. Now you are here we can truly recover who we were.”
Riddick sniffed but kept quiet, letting the old man talk.
“These papers will show you where to go. The data crystal, what you need to do. It’s not hard, but you are the only one that can do it.” Mallik told them, handing the map to Vaako when he motioned for it.
“Dahl, there’s a universal reader in my bag. Grab it so we can read the data node,” Vaako told her as he stood and carried the map to the table in a corner. Johns, behind him. He rolled out the map and waited as the other two found items to weigh down the corners. They looked at it for a few seconds but it was Johns that actually understood it first.
“We’re here.” He pointed. “We need to get here.”
“Yes. It will take days to reach it,” Mallik began. “And the way is dangerous, the pass often as rock fall.”
“They ain’t walking it,” Johns said firmly. “Baby can get us there in a couple of hours. Should be able to land close, if Baby can’t land we’ll take the skiffs out and land in them, leave Baby hovering on Auto. Then we hoof it. We’ll have to walk the caves and I got no idea what’s in there. Dahl, we’ll need cave gear. What we got on Baby?”
“Enough,” Dahl replied. “I’m ready with the Data Node Vaako. What should I do?”
Vaako looked thoughtful for a few seconds. He held out a hand and Dahl gave him the unit. Riddick didn’t want to take it when Vaako handed it to him. “This might be private, Richard, do you really want everyone seeing it?”
Riddick had never heard the other man use his first name and it took him a second to understand what had been said. He took the reader from Vaako and stepped away. He touched the play function and braced himself. The face that greeted him was a stranger’s. A man, his face strong. His eyes had The Shine and his head was as shaved as Riddick’s own.
“My son. Your life has been a hard one. But you have survived. Shira and I did our best to hide you from your hunter. It tore me and your mother apart to let you go, to send you away. You have every right to be angry with us. Maybe there could have been another way, but we could not see it. The Necromongers had ways of finding us. Shira took you and ran. I stayed here and fought. We knew from the outset we were outnumbered and they had weapons we couldn’t defend against.
“The Furyans are great warriors, but our space force was not able to defend against the force that came against us. They were destroyed within minutes. Then after the foot soldiers went through our streets, killing indiscriminately, they offered conversion. Some went as had been arranged. Some went from fear. Most did not choose to convert. I did not convert. I fought. I stayed because I knew if we kept them focused on us, you and the few chosen sent away like you were would stand a better chance of staying hidden.
They left and then they sent the Final Protocol. As soon as they left we ran for our underground shelters, most of us survived the initial blast, but the radiation has taken many and will take many more. When the comet was seen, I went to close the Waters of Life. You will need to open the Way again. The ways are keyed to our blood. Furya demands blood from it’s Alpha and we all bleed for her. I don’t know how long I will survive. The radiation has affected even me. I wish I could see you one more time before I die, but if I don’t know that you are my son, our future Alpha and I love you. Your mother loved you. Your name is Riddick of Furya. That name has been within your mind since your birth and you shall always know it.
Welcome home my son, the next true Alpha of Furya. I am Ribyn of Furya, current True Alpha of Furya and I love you, my son.”
Riddick touched the stop icon and set the Reader down. He went to stand by the fireplace and just stood in front of it. So his name really was Riddick. Riddick of Furya. Yeah that sounded right. Felt right. He could see his mother in his mind. Shira, of the wild. Now he could see his father. Strong, but love shone through his eyes.
“How long ago did my father die?” Riddick asked.
“Alpha Ribyn died less than a year after the invasion. He was one of the last into the shelters, because he pushed his people in before him, so he received a dangerous dose of radiation.” Mallik answered softly.
“Was he in pain?” Riddick asked.
“When he knew he was beyond help, he was stoic. Before he could become what he considered a burden he did what was honorable. He was buried as befits our Alpha when we could venture outside again. We will take you there when you wish it,” Mallik said.
Riddick nodded. “Vaako, check to see if there is anything else on that node.”
“Yes Alpha,” Vaako took the Reader. He fiddled with it for a few seconds before setting it back down. He shook his head while he walked over to Riddick.
Riddick felt Vaako come up behind him. He felt him hesitate for a second before wrapping his arms around him from behind, Riddick leaned back into the comfort he was offered.
“Are you alright?’ Vaako asked.
Riddick shrugged. “Not sure. I saw my mom in my dreams. Never saw my dad. Didn’t think he cared. Now I see that. He said he loved me. Can you imagine that? He loved me,” Riddick felt his voice break and cleared it.
“That’s not such a surprise Riddick. You’re an easy man to love, you know. Somehow you inspire loyalty and love.” Vaako whispered.
Riddick turned his head to see Vaako. “Really? Want to tell me something V?”
“If you haven’t figured out I love you, you’re an idiot. I left everything to get to you. Including my wife.”
“Your wife was a bitch.” Riddick grinned.
“Yes, yes she was. I still left her and everything else without a second thought when I realized you were in danger. I was willing to let you go when I thought you were going home, but when I found out it was a trap I had to get to you,” Vaako told him softly.
“When did it happen, V?” Riddick asked.
Vaako cuddled in closer to him. “Honestly, probably the first fight.”
“Yeah, me too,” Riddick chuckled. “So, has Johns made a plan?”
“Ahha. He’ll fly us in with Baby. We can walk from there. We’ll be going through a cave system. We don’t know what to expect. I was hoping the data node would give us something. Did, did your father say something?” Vaako asked hesitatingly.
“Maybe, yeah maybe. Let’s get this over with.”
“Grab your gear and let’s go,” Riddick called, he set his goggles securely and headed down the hatch, followed by his crew. Johns had been able to set them down right outside the cave system they needed to enter. They went from bright sunshine to dark cave in a matter of heart beats and Riddick pulled the goggles off his eyes. “Dahl, lights, but keep them away from me.”
“Dahl, use the yellows. We’ll get enough light but they shouldn’t bother Riddick,” Johns said.
Riddick nodded slowly when the yellow lights lit. They didn’t bother him. He gave Johns a grin and set off. He wasn’t sure where he was going, but then again he knew he wasn’t lost. His instincts were on high alert and he followed them. Down and down. After some general rubble they had to climb over and around at the opening the rest of the cave was rather clear and almost too smooth. “V?”
“Does this cave seem a little too unnatural?” Riddick asked.
“Yes. Let’s get this over and done with.” Vaako kept pace with him.
“In a hurry to get back? Got plans for tonight?” Riddick teased.
“I was sort of hoping you did. My last Purification is long gone by now,” Vaako told him smiling, then chuckled when Riddick slipped and tripped over a couple of pebbles.
Growling at himself Riddick increased his pace. He watched Katana and her pride run off in front of them, one or more circling back to them time and again. They had left the kits on baby with orders to behave themselves for Mara. Hopefully they would be good. Suddenly they came to a stop because some sort of boulders blocked the way. It looked like a natural cave in, but a good look around showed nowhere the rock fall could have come from. “We need to move this.” Riddick set his feet and started to lift a boulder carefully. In a heartbeat the others were helping. Before they were done each of them was nursing bleeding hands from cuts caused by the over sharp rocks. Riddick remembered his father saying Furya demanded blood, well she’d got some already.
He set on again. He knew they were close to a dead end. The air quality was different now. It didn’t shift any more. Finally the yellow lights showed something. They came to a complete stop. Shocked.
“Is that a metal door?” Dahl asked.
“Aha,” Vaako answered.
“Now what?” Platis asked, the usually quiet man walked forward and rapped his knuckles on the door. The sound it made was flat. “Solid,” he murmured and started running his hands over it. “Everyone help me. There’s probably a hidden latch or panel.”
They each took a section of the massive thing and did as they were told.
“What’s this? Is this it?” Lado asked.
Platis went over to check, then with a flourish did something and a panel fell open in the middle of the door. Riddick walked over to it. There was a hole behind the panel.There was a shape set inside the hole. Riddick recognized the shape immediately and without letting himself or anyone else think about it he set his palm to the hand shaped indent.
At first he felt nothing, not even a tickle. Then pain flew through his hand and a steel strap locked his hand in place. He screamed and felt people try to get him free. He knew they couldn’t however. “Stop. Stop,” he panted. “It won’t last forever. Just stop.”
He heard muttering and saw Vaako, his face paler than usual glaring at him. “I love you too,” he told the man, just to see him blink, blush and then glare some more.
“Dahl, we’re gonna need that first aid kit you brought. Our mighty Alpha can’t keep himself out of trouble,” he told her. She quickly found the item and handed it to him.
Riddick relaxed and let things happen. He had no choice about it anyway, so he leaned on the door and waited. The pain in his hand was gone but he was sure he was bleeding. Eventually the strap holding is hand in place retracted and he gingerly pulled it free.
Vaako snatched it quickly and examined it, before slapping a thick bandage on it. “Keep pressure on that. I’ll bind it properly when I can clean it right and get the Regen on it.” Vaako looked back at the doorway. “Now what?”
Riddick shrugged and waited while Vaako wrapped a bandage around his hand. “Now we open the door.”
“Now we open the door,” Vaako muttered. “Now we open the door. You annoying brainless muscle-”
Riddick wrapped his free hand around Vaako’s neck and pulled him in, quickly silencing his mutterings by kissing him until the man melted against him. He pulled away slowly, his shined gaze searching Vaako’s eyes. “It’s going to be fine, V. I’m not worried. We’re going to do this, release the Waters, whatever they are. Then we’re going back, probably to the ship and my quarters or yours so I can climb all over you. I’ve waited long enough.”
Vaako swallowed but leaned further into Riddick’s embrace. “Just stay alive. In one piece and for my sake if not yours, stop shrugging everything off. It’s almost like you don’t care about your own safety.”
Riddick rubbed his lips over Vaako’s forehead. “Never had anyone to worry about me before. Not really. Jack, the Imam, but not anyone in a long time. Shrugging is a habit. I’ll try to do it less.”
‘Fine. it’s also hot as hell, so don’t stop all of it,” Vaako pouted then rubbed his face over Riddick’s chest and stood back up to his full height.
They took a step back from each other and faced the group.
“Awww, so sweet,” Dahl mocked, with a cheeky grin. “While you two were busy, Platis found what he thinks is the way to open the door. You ready?”
Riddick nodded and stepped forward. Platis set his shoulder to the doorway and started to push. After a second the door slid slowly backward and forward. It pivoted on a central axis. As soon as it was open wide enough two Hellcats ran through. Riddick followed them and everyone else followed him.
“So Platis, no special locks or traps?” Riddick's gaze darted around.
“Don’t know about that, just figured your blood was key. The doorway took your blood and tested it. Then it let us enter. I doubt anyone else could have gotten us this far,” the other man said.
“You saying this place thinks I’m special?” Riddick scoffed.
Platis stopped and looked at him seriously. “Riddick, even if you don’t believe any of this, you have always been special. You have survived everything. You’ve taken a Lord Marshal away from the Necros and brought him to your side. You’ve brought us all together to find home, or maybe like Johns, make a home. Yeah Riddick, I think you’re a bit special. But don’t let it go to your shiny bald head.”
Riddick chuckled. “Yeah.” he shoved Platis playfully as they walked on. Behind the door was dark and damp, but the air fresh and the floor underfoot was worn smooth. From behind him a light flashed into life and Dahl handed forward and illuminator. Riddick held it above his head and tried to see in front of them. “There’s another door at the end of this passage.”
He heard Vaako suck in a breath and shortened his stride until they were walking together. He held out his undamaged hand and Vaako took it without hesitation. “Promise,” Vaako said softly.
“I promise,” Riddick told him. “Now help me get these bandages off me, I think I’m going to need my hand again.”
With a sigh Vaako unwrapped the makeshift bandage and walked forward at Riddick‘s heel.
“How much is this planet going to demand from you?” He grumbled.
“I think it demands a blood price.” Riddick reached out and placed his hand in the mould. He grit his teeth and waited for the strap and piercing pain. It came in seconds, almost making his knees buckle. He felt Vaako wrap around his back and shore him up. Lending his own strength. This time the blood drain was impressive. Riddick could feel his blood being pulled out of him. He sought Vaako’s hand and took hold, leaning back against the strong body holding him, resting his head back against Vaako’s shoulder.
“Bad?” Vaako whispered. Setting his feet firmly and taking as much as Riddick gave him.
“More,” Riddick said, voice resigned and gruff.
“Lean on me, I’ve got you.”
Riddick didn’t argue. He closed his eyes and let the planet of his birth take its price. At least the pain didn’t last, just the strange feel of his blood leaving him. He smiled faintly when he felt Vaako’s lips moving over his skin, light, barely there kisses and the gentle slide of lips against his ear or cheek or even neck. For the first time in his life, Riddick felt loved. Cherished. “I could get used to that,” he whispered.
“I hope so,” Vaako whispered back.
“Where are the others?”
“Behind us. Giving us some privacy. They’re good people, Riddick. Did you want to tell me about the message?”
“In the data node?” Riddick asked. “Hmm. My pops left me a message. Said they loved me. Missed me. Furya needed me. A few explanations. And my name. It really is Riddick. Riddick of Furya. That’s me.” Riddick pushed back into Vaako’s arms, looking for more comfort.
Vaako’s arms tightened and he buried his face into Riddick neck saying nothing.
An eternity later the panel released Riddick's hand and he stumbled in Vaako’s hold. Vaako held him steady while Dahl rushed forward to tend his injury. She turned it over and five deep puncture wounds were in the palm. They bled sluggishly before she slapped the bandage over it and pressed tightly before wrapping it as securely as she dared.
Vaako pulled the hand to Riddick’s chest growling. “If this damned planet needs any more blood, someone else is going to have to bleed for it. Get him done good and drink. Plato’s, get that door open. Katana, get ready to scout ahead. We’ll head out as soon as Riddick gets some strength back.”
No one argued with him which made Riddick grin. Vaako in charge was a beautiful thing. Something he hadn’t seen for a long time. “When we get back to the ship, you’re doing all the work,” he said softly. Grinning more when he heard Vaako choke on his own breath.
“Asshole,” Vaako sighed.
“Yeah. And I bet you can’t wait to tap it.”
Vaako groaned into Riddick’s neck but kept holding him firmly. “Just eat your damned food.”
Riddick ate and drank everything they handed him, feeling some strength returning to him until he felt he could stand on his own again. Reluctantly he pulled away from Vaako but kept hold of his hand. He walked to the open doorway. He could see Katana sitting at the end of another passage way. The rest of her pack roaming around behind her. His heart beat faster. Harder. “It’s in there. What we came here for. It’s in there. Let’s get this over with.” Riddick pushed one foot in front of the other, feeling Vaako move with him. The others following.
“Riddick?” Vaako asked softly.
“Stay?” Riddick answered.
“For as long as you want,” Vaako told him.
Riddick threw him an almost childish grin. “Forever okay?”
“Perfect,” Vaako sighed.
The end of the passage came quickly. It ended in a round chamber with a faceted plinth in the middle. Riddick strode forward intention clear. He lifted his hand, ready to place it in another mould. Something stopped him. Looking down he found Vaako’s arm across his chest holding him back. “V?”
“Stop and look. There are moulds for six sets of hands. All different sizes.” Vaako told him.
“You’ve lost too much blood and are too tired now, to think clearly. Let me, us, help.”
Riddick blinked and looked carefully. “Fuck,” he sighed. Vaako was right. Carefully they walked around the plinth. Six sides. Six of them. “Who the fuck set this thing up?”
“Apparently our ancestors,” Dahl snarked back.
“And apparently they’re assholes,” Ladin added.
Plato’s laughed sarcastically. “They abandoned kids in different planets to try and survive so they could find their way back here and do this shit. Assholes isn’t a strong enough word.”
No one disagreed.
“So what do we do? Walk around and see which mould is the best fit?” Dahl asked.
Riddick couldn’t think of anything else they could go so with a shrug he went to the kind that looked right. He raised both hands over the moulds and waited for the others. It didn’t take long for everyone but Vaako to set himself. “V?” Riddick asked.
Vaako sighed. “I’m not Furyan. I’m Necro. I’m an enemy. They locked this pace away from the likes of me. I don’t want to wreck it.”
Riddick stepped back from his post and walked to the other man. He kissed him softly and carefully placed his hands over the final set of moulds. “We’ll do this in sequence. Me first. You last. The prophecy mentioned two Lord Marshals. I’m one.” He stepped away slowly and went back to his spot. “Ready?” He asked. At their nods he carefully placed his hands in the moulds. One by one, from Dahl to Vaako they did the same.
This time nothing stabbed his palms. With a tingle, blue gel oozed into the mould to cover their hands. It was cool stuff, there was no pain, but an electric tingle ran through him, from finger tips, to skull, to toes.the tingle ran up and down his body, leaving every cell awake and shivering. His eyes burned cold. His sight better than ever. His sense of smell heightened, he could feel the tiniest of wisps of breeze on his exposed skin. He could hear the shallowest of breaths. His senses had always been extremely good now they were incredible and controlled. He instinctively knew his Eye Shine wouldn’t hurt him any longer in bright lights.
But the senses weren’t the only thing. His mind opened. A door that had been closed all his life swung open and a muted flood came in. He had an awareness of the others in the room with him. He knew if he wanted he could pluck their thoughts right out of their brains. Knew without a doubt he could place his thought sin their brains. He felt a low growl in the base of his mind and searching for it he found Katana and to a lesser extent her pride. She radiated love and approval at him, he pushed the same back at her, because why shouldn’t he? The hellcats had never let him down.
He looked at her physically, she was sitting by him, just watching him. Trying an experiment he asked her a question. “Who is my mate?”
With a huff she stood up and trotted to Vaako, sitting behind the man and sending him a mental chuckle.
Riddick chuckled back and looked at everyone else. The faces were serene, all had their eyes closed, they appeared to be listening. Riddick concentrated on Vaako. His face was now serene. He appeared to be awed. His mouth was open, his eyes tightly shut, occasionally he’d nod or shake his head. Riddick concentrated and looked for the link he knew he had with Vaako. Finding it he followed it to the other man. Voices of millions were talking to him. All at once. Riddick listened intently and made out what could almost be a history lesson. The history of Furya.
Riddick pulled away and concentrated on what he was supposed to be doing. He searched and looked for anything that subconsciously that would be a lock or block on the Waters of Life. When he found what he needed he took a deep breath. “Are you ready?” he asked them all.
“Yes,” came voices strong and Riddick willed the next part to begin.
The plinth between them broke away into rock and dust. It was hiding a long lever. They each fit one palm around it and at Riddick’s say they pushed it down together. Riddick gasped as another door in his mind opened and suddenly he felt not only the people and hellcats in the room, but the entire planet and everything in and on it. The world voice overwhelmed him and he felt himself let go and start to fall. Strength at his back held him up. Wrapped bands of steel around his chest and kept him on his feet.
He felt other minds take some of the burden from him, felt bonds of respect shore up who he was. He relaxed into the strength surrounding him and let his mind communicate with the energy, the will, the power that was Furya. A sentient planet that allowed his people to live on it.
Years, decades later he opened his eyes and looked around him. They were still in the chamber. They were still at the plinth. Vaako was still holding him. He sucked in a deep breath and stood up straight. “How long?”
“Seconds,” Vaako answered. Stepping back from him. “What do we do next?”
“Now we head on back. We’re done. The Waters of Life are flowing again. Johns , Dahl, get us back to the ship.” Riddick ordered.
“Alright then. Grab your gear. Let’s go,” Johns ordered, shouldering is pack and handing Dahl hers.
Riddick looked around, the place was quiet now. The call was gone. His planet was awake again. That’s what all of this had been about. His father had put Furya into a deep sleep when the Necromongers had come. Cutting the link between planet and people. Allowing the sentience to survive the final protocol because it was protected within itself. His father had made the choice to sacrifice some of his people in order to save their entire planet, knowing that once Furya was awakened the people and planet would be whole again.
“Are you alright?” Vaako asked quietly.
Riddick sighed and kicked at a pebble in front of him. “I don’t know. Did you get what happened back there? Did any of you?”
“Oh you mean the whole sentient planet? We all got that. The sacrifice? Yes we got that too,” Vaako answered, he sounded shaken. “We have a connection to the planet too. Even me. And a connection to you too. I sort of understand why the Necromongers wanted Furya destroyed. It’s a whole sentient being. A planet that’s alive. It would be an irresistible target for them. Can you imagine bringing a planet to Underverse? Thank all the deities they never knew. Never understood. Zhylaw came after the people, one baby boy. And brought, a people to its knees, never knowing he could have destroyed so much more. How do you feel?”
“More. less. Bigger. Smaller. I don’t know yet. But I have a people to lead and protect. A planet to call my own and help grow again. A reason to be.” Riddick got stronger with every word.
Vaako smiled. “Does that mean you’re doing all the work?”
Riddick burst out laughing as they cleared the cave mouth. “Nah, I’ve been through a lot today. I think I deserve to be spoiled.”
Riddick walked out of his cleansing chamber and stopped in the doorway. Vaako sat in the middle of his bed, swiping through a tablet.
“Come here, Riddick,” he said, placing the tablet on the shelf behind the bed. The quarters on Johns Baby weren’t large, but they were large enough for a decent bed and a small cleansing unit attached.
Riddick didn’t move, just stood there watching Vaako, his head cocked to the side. “You orderin’ me around?”
“You want your cock sucked?” Vaako asked back.
Riddick grinned and sauntered over . “You shoulda said.”
Vaako slid to the side of the bed and stood, slipping his vest and pants off. His boots were nowhere to be seen. Then he sat again and spread his legs, pulling Riddick to stand between them. He ran his hands over Riddick’s hips, sliding them over Riddick’s ass and finally wrapping a possessive hand around his cock.
“Suck me, V,” Riddick said, his voice soft and husky.
Vaako licked his lips then licked the head. He wrapped his lips around it and hummed. Riddick shivered and his hands were suddenly in Vaako’s hair and holding on tight. He groaned when that hot wet mouth slid all the way down. Then he pulled off and did it again and again, just sliding his mouth over Riddick’s hard cock. Riddick was shivering in seconds. The hot wet slide, the suction. The tight grip leaving bruises on his hips. It was all sending Riddick insane. Vaako had him on the speedy transport to coming before Riddick could control it.
Dark eyes looked up at him.
“To fast. Gonna come real soon. Can’t stop it.”
Vaako pulled off his cock. “Then don’t stop it. Just come for me. Let me taste you. Take the edge off, then I can explore you,” Vaako said quietly, before he went back to Riddick’s cock, swallowing it down again and worshiping it.
Riddick threw his head back and closed his eyes, enjoying the pleasure Vaako was giving him. He breathed roughly, his lungs just trying to suck in the air they needed. He locked his knees and fisted his hands in the dark locks. “V,” he sighed when he felt a pressure building in his spine. He gasped when Vaako scraped his teeth lightly along his shaft, putting just the right pressure on the vein running the length of it and with a groan his orgasm was pulled out of him and he felt Vaako swallow around his cock, over and over.
“V,” he sighed and looked down. Vaako was smiling at him.
“Why don’t you get on the bed, Riddick,” Vaako moved back and pulled Riddick with him.
Riddick went willingly, letting himself be laid out and closing his eyes with a smile. He expected Vaako to maybe stroke him or touch him. He didn’t expect Vaako to lick him. Riddick bucked when he felt a wet tongue on his ankle. He started to laugh a little when it became ticklish. Then he moaned when Vaako straight up, on the sensitive inner flesh of his thigh. Vaako sucked on the flesh in his mouth, making Riddick feel the blood rise there. Vaako released the flesh with a lick and a kiss and his mouth moved on, lavishing Riddick’s body with licks, bites and sucks until Riddick was hard again and moaning, moving as much as he could all over his bed.
He reached out blindly and found Vaako’s head over his nipple and pulled him up to offer his lips. Vaako ravished his lips like Riddick wanted. Riddick wrapped himself around the other man, kissing back and begging with his lips and body for more, for everything. Vaako stretched out over him and fumbled under the pillow. When he pulled his hand back Riddick heard a snick then something slick was rubbing at his asshole and he sucked in a breath, tensing slightly.
Vaako pulled away, dropping a kiss on Riddick’s chin. “Last time? How long?”
Riddick blew out a breath. “With permission? Never. The Slams, when I was younger...I was strong, but not always strong enough.”
“Do you want me to stop?”
Vaako sighed then kissed Riddick’s nose. “I understand. Do you trust me?”
Riddick closed his eyes and thought about it. Vaako had been the Necro that almost killed him. He was also the Necro that kneeled to him first. Tried to find Furya for him. Came after him when he realized it had been a trap. Talked to him. And today? Today Vaako had held strong for him. Held him up. Gave him strength. “ Yeah V, I trust you.”
Vaako blew out a breath and licked at Riddick’s nipple before he nipped it. Riddick bucked and chuckled, feeling his body relax again on the bed. He felt is legs go lax and spread himself out. When he felt slickness at his asshole again he grinned and enjoyed the intimate massage. All the while Vaako was leaving delicious lite bites all over his chest. Riddick stretched his arms over his head, tucking his hands under his pillow and enjoying everything Vaako was giving him.
“Clench up, Riddick,” Vaako whispered, tapping his asshole.
Not understanding why, Riddick trusted his mate and clenched, for as long as he could. He felt his muscle flutter after a few seconds and then relax. Vaako slipped his finger in. The breath left Riddick in a rush. “Full,” he groaned and stretched, loving the feel.
Vaako chuckled. “Clench again when you’re ready and I’ll make you feel better.”
Biting his lower lip Riddick clenched up for a few more seconds. As his muscles went lax, he felt Vaako press in again, moaning at how good he felt. “Again?” Riddick asked.
“When you’re ready,” Vaako answered.
Grinning widely Riddick spread his legs further and clenched. Vaako smirked at him and swooped down to suck his cock back into his hot mouth. Riddick bucked and his ass muscles released. Vaako pressed in again and Riddick almost lost his mind. Vaako had him relaxed and practically melted into the mattress. Now Riddick was hot, hungry and needy.
Vaako pulled his mouth off with a pop and took his fingers out of Riddick’s ass, quickly climbing over the other man and kneeling between his legs. Riddick felt Vaako's cock at the entrance and clenched. Understanding now what Vaako had been doing. In seconds his muscles were lax again and Vaako was pressing his thick cock into him. He heard Vaako moan and smiled. He knew he was moaning too, could feel his throat vibrating. He pulled his legs up and wrapped them around Vaako’s waist. The move pulled Vaako in deeper.
Vaako was clenched over him. Fighting for control. The battle showing on his face. Then he pulled his hips back and rolled them forward. The slide of that thick long cock moving in and out of him sent Riddick wild. He wrapped everything he had around the other man and rode everything Vaako could give him. Lightning flashed through him on every thrust over a hot button inside him. His muscles alternated between clenching and shivering. Vaako brought his lips close and Riddick shot up the claim them. Kissing the man that was making love to him until they were both panting and breathing was an absolute necessity. “V, V, V,” fell from his mouth with every stroke inside him. He was sweating and trembling. Vaako set his teeth to Riddick’s collarbone and bit down hard enough to mark. Riddick groaned and finally noticed the pressure building along his spine. When Vaako rolled his hips and move them in a tiny circle Riddick was gone. His orgasm rushed out of him, leaving him panting and limp. “Come on V. Come in me. Mark me as yours,” he whispered and groaned when he felt Vaako bite his shoulder and tremble. Heat flooding his insides. Before Vaako went lax over him, Riddick wrapped the other man in is arms and kissed his temple. “Thank you,” he whispered before he fell asleep.
Riddick hid a grin. Vaako looked confused and Riddick really liked that look on him. They were in the building that apparently served as home and palace for the rulers of Furya. It was built out of a hill, more accurately it was created with a hill. Because apparently the planet could create homes and public areas for them. All he had to do was ask and Furya did what it did to make it happen. So they were in the main audience chamber and Vaako was being swarmed by Angel Kits and kids. The kids now lived here full time. They were orphans and Riddick had decided to adopt them. The kids had decided to adopt Vaako and Riddick was endlessly amused by the constantly confused look on his mate’s face.
“V,” he called and Vaako pulled himself free from the throng and went over to him.
“Yes?” he asked pulling a tenacious boy off his ankle and sending him back to the others.
“There has been news. A comet was seen then not seen. It apparently disappeared between one second and the next,” Riddick told him, the wise man at his side, smiling indulgently at the kids and kits.
Vaako nodded. “Looks like my former Lady Wife has led them through to Underverse.”
‘’Your wife? Sire?” the wise man asked.
Riddick laughed. “Yeah. Dame Vaako. She might not sit on the throne but I have no doubt she’s the true power of the throne, now. I don’t think there’s a stronger Necromonger than her.”
“Agreed.” Vaako nodded.
“Does that mean the Necromonger threat is gone?” Mallik asked.
Riddick and Vaako looked at each other and both shrugged. “We’ll keep an eye out and our ears open. We’ll have to see. But we might have finally gotten some good luck coming our way. Mallick, call Dahl and Johns for me, I want to see them.”
“Yes Alpha,” Mallick said and trotted off.
Riddick pulled Vaako to him and wrapped a hand around his waist. “So, how are you doing with the kids?”
Vaako huffed. “I don’t understand. Why do they all follow me everywhere? Did someone put them up to it?”
Riddick laughed and kept them walking. “They like you and you make them feel safe. You also have a strong connection to Furya and they know that their home trusts you. So they trust you too.”
Vaako shrugged. “I wish they would pile on Dahl. She has the connection too,” Vaako pouted.
“Connection yes. But no one would ever accuse her of being a sweet and soft type.” Riddick opened the door to their private rooms.
“And I am? I was a Necro for most of my life,” Vaako blustered. He sat down and rubbed his lower belly absently.
“You’re also the Alpha Mate. what’s wrong with your belly?” Riddick asked sitting down at his desk and inserting the current data node in the reader.
“Nothing. I don’t know. I just feel a little strange. Like things are moving around in here. Stupid yeah?” Vaako chuckled ruefully.
Riddick sat still, eyes glued to the vid screen of the reader. He heard Vaako’s words and re-read what he had read on the screen. He felt Vaako come up behind him and quickly made room to pull the other man into his lap. “Maybe not so stupid. Furya is an amazing planet who made sure the Alpha Mate could always carry and give birth to the Alpha’s successor.”
“What?” Vaako asked looking at Riddick.
Riddick nodded to the screen and Vaako turned to read it. Riddick knew how Vaako was about to react and tightened his arms around his mate. Waiting. It took seconds for Vaako to try and jump up. He struggled but Riddick held on until the fight and panic were gone.
“Did this crazy planet change me so I could get pregnant. Am I a breeder now?” Vaako asked his voice small.
“V, you were always a breeder. The Purifications took that away from you. Now you have it back. As for what Furya did, I don’t know. But the records say that even male Alpha Mates carried the Alpha’s children. There aren’t many old enough to remember Alphas before my father but maybe Mallick will know something. These data nodes have been very accurate so far, but we’ll find out. The blue goo would have been the catalyst. It changed all of us one way or another.” Riddick manhandled the other man until he straddled his lap. “Would it be so bad? Carrying my kid?”
Vaako sighed and ran his fingers over Riddick’s freshly shaved scalp. He grinned and kissed Riddick’s nose. “Not so bad. But so help me if you call me fat I’m going to have Katana sit on you,” Vaako grinned.
“But I’m her favorite?” Riddick objected smiling.
“Yeah Alpha, you keep telling yourself that. Who does she trust with her Kits?” Vaako said grinning, one hand back to rubbing his stomach.
Riddick’s hand joined his over the now not so flat belly. “Where’s that scanner?” Riddick asked. “The one Dahl left here last week.”
Vaako pointed to the bottom drawer with one foot, laughing as Riddick bent down and they both slid off the chair.
Both men started laughing at the strangeness and rightness of it all, laughing harder as Katana chuffed at them and walked away. Her amusement at her humans clear in Riddick’s mind.