Riddick awoke in the shadows, bolting up to his feet like an animal unleashed, furious and blood rolling with anger. Perhaps it was the anger of the entire race that made him ready to leap into the sky and tear the world apart.
But as he stood there, in the entrance of the small slam hanger bay, his heart leapt when he caught a familiar scent – getting further away.
Xander's scent was on the Necromonger ship moving further away.
And there was no heartbeat to accompany it.
“Xander.” He said, a shocked breath. He never said the boy's name. But as the Necromongers carried away the body of the only other Furyan, the bearer of his children, it seemed like he had to say it. Like it was necessary to say.
“The Lord Marshall bid me deliver a message to you.”
Riddick spun. He hadn't even noticed the man standing there, tall, whip thin, his blond hair cut close to the scalp. He was dressed in a lighter version of the armour the other Necromongers wore, like a more ceremonial version, perhaps. But he was removing the pieces, one by one, setting them item by item on the edge of an instrument panel. There was a calm, almost serene expression on his face, as he worked. “Should Lord Vaako fail to kill you, that is.” He added. “You are to stay away from Helion and he will allow you to live.”
Snatching up one of the dead Necromonger's blades, he stormed forward to grab the man, his fingers curling tightly around the man's throat, digging into the flesh as he bared his teeth at him, wanting to tear him apart.
“Wait,” the Purifier gasped, not fighting him off, just holding up his hands.
Riddick snarled, intent on crushing the life out of the other man.
,” he said again, and reached up to jerk the front of the black leather jacket he wore open, revealing a blue glowing hand-print on his pectoral, right above his heart.
He dropped him like he'd burned him.
The Purifier stepped back, clearing his throat, and lifted his jaw. “We all started as something else.”
“You're Furyan,” Riddick rumbled, voice deep in his chest.
“I was,” He agreed, setting aside the last of his jewels and trinkets, and tugged the knife out of his belt, dropping it silently to the floor. It clattered and rang as it fell, skittering across the floor. “I have done terrible things in the name of a religion that was never mine. Now... the Necromonger in me tells you to run, to escape as far away from Helion as you can and never look back. The Furyan in me... hopes you don't listen to me.”
The Purifier smirked, and started moving towards the edge of the garage, as though he was going to walk out into the sunlight.
Riddick reached out to catch his arm, and it was his turn to say, “Wait.”
He hesitated, surprised.
“There are few enough of us.” He said, firmly. “Without you walking into that sun.”
The Purifier stopped, and said, quietly, “Do you understand the situation we are in, Riddick? There are none of us left. You are the last hope we have, for possibly killing the Lord Marshall, but if you fail, when you die, so dies our race.”
“Bullshit.” He growled. “My mate is pregnant.”
His head snapped back to face him again, startled, and the man's pale blue eyes widened, nostrils flaring slightly. He had buried his instincts for god knows how long, trapped within the shell of a Necromonger half-life, but those instincts were still there
. “By the gods... you have a prime. A pregnant
He smirked faintly.
“And it actually is
a prime, too, not just some woman from some other race...” The Purifier gaped at him. “You found a Furyan prime. By the gods, a Furyan Prime... a Furyan Alpha... you can't
fail in this, Riddick. You have the last chance of recreating our race.”
He didn't really feel it worth pointing out that Xander's heart hadn't been beating. He was rather trying not to think about that himself. “You can play a part in this.”
“How can I do that?” The man scoffed. “You're mated to a Prime. Where am I to find another Alpha?”
Riddick frowned. He'd been trying to figure this whole thing out, this whole Furyan situation. That Shirah woman had told him some details, in his dreams, but that wasn't enough. Xander had figured out some things he'd told him about in the slam, but this man standing here was one of the old ones, one of the Furyans from before the massacre. He knew things that all of the research in the verse would never find them, and while he didn't really care about his 'heritage' and where he came from, he had learned that Xander would
. “Primes and Alphas. Explain.”
The Purifier hesitated, stunned. It was like a question he'd never thought to ask. “Alphas... are the physical force. The military leaders, the ones that go out and wage war, I guess. Those that father the children. The Primes...”
“Are weaker?” He asked, arching a brow.
.” He said fiercely. “No Furyan is weak.”
He crossed his arms, considering him, intrigued. After all, of the two of them, Riddick would have definitely thought that Xander was the weaker of them.
“Furyans are not
weak.” The Purifier said again, fiercely. “We are a race meant for war, for power, for domination. We ruled the verse with a fist of iron, and the verse bowed to us. Primes were the spiritual leaders, the political leaders. The Alphas ruled the physical sphere, the Primes ruled the spiritual and religious spheres. They are not weak. They're just... strong, in different ways.”
“And the Primes bear the children.”
“Yes,” he nodded. “And the amount of effort involved in that, alone...” The Purifier whistled, lowly.
“You've done it, then.” Riddick glanced at him, a level, steady gaze.
The Purifier hesitated, and nodded once. “In a different life.”
“What happened to that child? The mate that fathered them?” He frowned, leaning back on the wing of Toomb's ship, which fortunately sat where the man had left it, and he'd be able to fly out of here with it, soon. Soon as the sun set. He just had the hope that, thinking he was dead, the Necros would take a long time getting back to Helion, where he could push the merc's ship until it blew up, he didn't care.
The blond man considered him for a moment. “Converted.”
“Converted.” He repeated.
He smiled faintly. “You expected, perhaps, that my family was massacred when the Necromonger forces arrived on Furya thirty years ago and killed all that was left of our kin? You probably know very little of our history... Furyans have always been the warriors of the verse, Riddick. They waged the wars that other races didn't want to fight, because that was what they did
. They fought. And many races have tried – and failed – to destroy the Furyans before. But the Necromongers have come the closest to succeeding. Twice.”
He glanced back at him, silver-blue eyes snapping to the blond man.
“Granted, you know about the recent massacre. Everyone over the age of thirty remembers it happening. Two hundred years ago, the Necromonger race was born out of fire and hatred. Two brothers hated each other, and one reacted by twisting the religious beliefs of both into a justification for conquering his brother. He used the Underverse as his motives, and was the first Lord Marshall of the Necromongers. The second Lord Marshall was the one who moved conversion beyond volunteers to a forcible conversion. He forcibly converted over half the Furyan race.”
Riddick shifted. “I thought we were the warriors.”
“We were.” He said, quietly. “But we were met with an army of strength equal to ours. The Necromonger army. They – they were equal to the Furyans in every way, except stronger, because they didn't feel pain the same way that we did. We were strong, but they were strong and weren't felled by their injuries. They were spurred on by the need to reach their 'due time'.”
“Why were they equally strong?” He frowned.
“Because they were a race of volunteers.” The Purifier said, lifting his chin. “Volunteered Furyans.”
“We were betrayed from within by our own people.” He growled, the hand print on his chest flaring again as his own anger – and the anger of billions of lives, snuffed out by their own kin – boiled up in his throat. He wanted to rip them apart. To track down the Necromongers themselves, all of them, and tear them all apart.
“Yes.” The Purifier said, lightly, and glanced away from him, out into the fire of the planet around them, the sun flaring and burning away at what little was left. “We were. I was Lavelle. And so I was made an example of. Converted, and made into the Purifier.
I was a pawn made to lead my own people, my own family, my own race into destruction.”
“Spiritual leader of the people.” He said, struggling to stay calm. The rage their race was known for was clawing at his throat, as well. “Lavelles are members of the royal family, heirs to the throne, but they don't just... rule. They lead the people. That's why they converted me. To have the Lavelle lead their people into the Underverse... it was a dream come true, for the Necromongers.” He shook his head, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose for a moment. “I was Lavelle once. Our race has no leaders now.”
He smirked, and stood, heading towards the hatch of Toomb's ship, opening it, considering the inside. Yes, he could work with this.
“You're going somewhere?” The Purifier asked.
He glanced back at him, and said, “Going to go get my mate back from the Necros. I don't imagine you've ever heard of him, but you will. Lavelle Alexander.”
He bolted after him, shocked. “Lavelle
“Our race ain't dead yet.” Riddick smirked, grimly, and headed into the ship. Well, they weren't dead now
, anyway. But if he got to Helion Prime and his mate was
dead... the wrath of the Furyans might result in more devastation than even Shirah might have anticipated.
Xander's eye snapped open, and he started up, trying to figure out what was bothering him.
Someone was watching him.
He had to struggle to see for a few long moments, actually. His brain seemed to think that he'd been blinded by blue light, but he didn't actually see any blue light, and was fairly sure he hadn't actually really seen any, either. There was a dull buzzing in his chest, still, but once he got his eyes straightened out, he realized that the person that was watching him was the man he'd seen before, the man that had killed Guv.
The man had shed the heavy black armour that he'd been wearing, and was dressed only in a tight black catsuit sort of thing, made in a type of fabric that looked like it was made of snake skin. He'd never seen anything exactly like that, except on a few skanky girls back in California. He couldn't exactly say that it looked skanky on him.
Actually, he had to admit that there was something powerful about this man, where he sat across the room, watching him calmly. He had a bit of the action under his skin, like Riddick always did. Like he was ready to leap up and attack.
“What, having fun watching me?” He asked, voice still rough and scorched.
The man didn't seem to react. His expression was stern and serious, and neither smiled nor glared. He simply continued to watch him, until he said, finally, “You are Furyan.”
He arched a brow. Observant son of a bitch. But he didn't exactly want to admit
to being a Furyan, not to a Necromonger. He kind of got the impression that he wouldn't live very long if he did that. This man was intense and harsh and he wondered if it would be a point of honour for a Necromonger to kill one of the last remaining Furyans or not. It might be. “I don't know what you're talking about.”
The man scoffed, and leaned forward.
Xander leaned back, instinctively, wanting to keep out of his reach, but he was sitting with his back against the wall, and there weren't many places for him to go. He couldn't get far enough out of this man's way, and the dark haired man hooked his fingers in the collar of Xander's tank top, shifting it aside to reveal his chest – and the blue glowing hand print over his heart. “You are Furyan.”
Holy crap, mother, what did you do to me?
“Well, I didn't have that yesterday
, so I don't know how that's supposed to mean that I’m Furyan.”
The man arched a brow, and leaned back. “You are too young to have lived through the destruction of Furya. A child born afterwards, perhaps?”
“I have no idea what you're talking about.” Xander pushed himself to his feet, wishing that the threadbare slam jacket he wore was loose, large, or heavy enough to cover his stomach. It was obvious that he was pregnant, which probably told everyone who knew anything that he was Furyan. And this guy seemed to know it. Shit. Still, he tried to act casual, cracking his shoulders, his neck, his jaw. Whatever the hell his mother had done to him, to transfer this 'rage of the Furyans' thing to him, it still made his whole body ache. “Out of curiosity, though, why am I not dead?”
The man frowned, as though trying to find an answer to that.
“I mean, if you really
think I’m a Furyan, which I don't know why you think that, but if you really think that I am, why in the whole damn verse am I alive? Because that doesn't seem like a very good decision on your part.”
Xander glanced up, surprised by that answer. “Last I checked.”
The man shifted in his seat, crossing his arms. “That is why you are alive.”
“I thought you Necromongers were all about killing Furyans.” Xander pressed his palms into his lower back, arching his back to crack it again. Yeah, it made it even more obvious that he was pregnant, but his back hurt. “So if I was a Furyan, it would make more sense to kill me and my child before
its born, wouldn't it? Not that I’m suggesting you do that, believe me. I really
wouldn't like that. But it seems a little weird, for a Necro to save the life of a pregnant Furyan.”
“Who are you?”
Xander glanced at the man, blinking. One of the thin braids his faux hawk was tied into was falling forward over his shoulder, and it looked out of place. He had the irrational desire to put it back into place. Okay, Xan-man
, he thought. Get your head out of the weird space and back to reality
. “They call me Xander.”
“They?” The man repeated.
“My mom calls me Xander,” he snorted. “And my friends, the few that I have, they call me Xander. Everyone else calls me Alexander. Don't call me Alexander. I hate being called Alexander. So what do I call you
He shifted slightly, expressionless as he said, “Vaako.”
“Vaako.” Xander repeated, scratching the back of his neck, thoughtfully. “You killed my friend.”
His brows furrowed, surprise flickering through his dark eyes. Xander was rather pleased that he was starting to recognize emotions in the midst of the other man's serious, stern expressions. Something about his serious, remarkably calm expressions reminded him of Riddick. Oh god
, he thought, Let's try not to make any connection between this bastard and Riddick, okay, Riddick is... ten kinds of crazy, and all kinds of scary, but at least he's not... okay, maybe a Necro asshole is just as bad. But it's
“Who, I have killed many men.”
“He was called the Guv,” he said, glancing at him. “You broke his spine.”
“Ah.” He nodded, calmly. “Yes, I did.”
?” Xander demanded, expecting an apology, if nothing else. Something
to make up for what he'd done.
“Your friend tried to kill me. It was his due time.” He said calmly, and stood up, moving towards Xander. Xander, naturally, backed up. “Such is the way of things.”
“Yeah, well, it still pissed me off.” He snapped, backing up until his back hit a wall. Dammit
“You asked why I would keep a pregnant Furyan alive.” Vaako said, jaw set.
Xander swallowed, and lifted his jaw. He refused to show any fear. Riddick never would have let him live it down, if he showed any hint of weakness. He wasn't a teenaged kid from California anymore. He was a man. A slam escapee. Fuck, a Furyan. He wasn't going to back down just because tall dark and scowl-y was glowering at him.
Vaako tugged the high, Mandarin collar of his under armour open, jerking it open enough to expose his chest.
And the glowing blue hand print pulsing slightly over his heart.
“What is this?”
Xander's eye snapped up towards Vaako's face again, stunned, and he was very grateful for his goggles. Otherwise, he was afraid his last remaining eye might have fallen right out of his head, he was so shocked. “...it's the mark. It's the Rage of the Furyans.”
His brows furrowed, tightly. “I have been marked because the Furyans are angry?”
“You've been marked because you are
a Furyan.” Xander lifted his jaw, smirking slightly. “She marked them all. She marked the Furyans, so that they would bear witness to what had happened to them. So that they would be able to do something
about it. So that they would burn with fury and rage and hate
and they would do what should have been done before. They would destroy the Necromongers. That
is what that mark is.”
“You are lying to me.” Vaako took a step back from him. But he looked worried.Fuck
It was worth a shot.
Xander lifted his jaw again, and tugged his goggles up, setting them on his forehead, exposing his eye and the eye patch, properly. A flicker of confusion passed over Vaako's face, like he didn't quite understand the colour of Xander's eye, or what he was doing. But he just met the man's gaze with his, and pulled himself up to his full height, trying to seem commanding. It had worked with Riddick.
It worked with Vaako.
The man dropped to one knee, bowing his head, low, exposing his neck.
Xander let out a long breath he hadn't actually realized he'd been holding, and grinned, sheepishly. “Sorry. You can get back up now, if you want to.”
Vaako scrambled to his feet, looking absolutely furious. “What is
this?!” He snarled.
“You're a Furyan,” he said, again. “Furyans are the only ones who bow like that. Trust me, I’ve tried with other people. Spent two years living with mercs, I tried it on every one I came across, just to see what would happen. Did nothing
, to any of them. Does nothing to the other convicts, does nothing to anyone. Except to the strongest, angriest, most aggressive men in the verse. They
bow. You're a Furyan, Vaako.”
“That is impossible,” he said, furiously.
“Why impossible?” Xander frowned, glancing at him. “I mean, why would you think that was impossible? Do you remember not
being Furyan, or something?”
“There is nothing before becoming a Necromonger.”
He arched a brow, crossing his arms. “That's stupid. Of course there is something before becoming a Necromonger. Don't you remember your mother? Your father? Growing up?”
Vaako hesitated. “No.”
Xander blinked at him. “...no? Seriously, you don't remember anything?”
“I have been faithful for centuries,” he said, fiercely.
Vaako nodded, curtly, frowning. “Yes.”
“...Furyans live for centuries
“What? No.” He glanced back at him, frowning, brows furrowed tightly. He looked confused by the idiocy of that comment. “Furyans are just men. Necromongers live until their due time.”
“You guys are really obsessed with that due time stuff, huh?” He considered that. “So you could live for centuries, until you hit your due time. So I guess you're kind of like... well, you're not hot. I mean, I can tell from here
that you're cool. Not cold, just sort of cool, I guess... are you... alive?”
“Yes.” Vaako snapped.
“Hey, give me a break, I can't tell
! I just know you're not warm, and most people that are alive are warm
. You don't, uh.... drink blood, do you?”
“No,” he said again, glowering at Xander.
Xander considered that. “Do you eat, at all?”
“Am I an experiment
“No, I’m just... trying to figure this out. Do you eat?”
“Yes,” Vaako said calmly, buttoning the front of his uniform back up. “We eat.”
“And you sleep, and have sex, and get sick, and all those normal things?” He asked, glancing back at him again. Xander was confused, but he was pretty sure that he was starting to cotton on to how this all worked. “Do you have medical services, at all?”
“If they get sick, they will get well. If they don't, then it was their due time.”
He snorted, crossing his arms. “Do you have children?”
“No.” Something that Xander couldn't identify flickered across Vaako's face. “We do not have children. We cannot have children.”
“So you're basically immortal undead who aren't really undead at all. Weird.” Xander considered that, relieved that it was so dark
in the Necromonger ship, like it was always at twilight. It was like his dreams, that planet he went to when he was in cryo – almost dark, almost like the sun was about to set. Perfect lighting for him to see everything.
Vaako seemed to be thinking about his eyes, too. “You have the same eyes as the other Furyan.”
Xander stopped, twisting to look at Vaako. “Which Furyan?”
He stopped. “You were sent to kill him, weren't you? That's why you were there, you were sent to kill him?”
Xander froze. “...what?”
He frowned. “That is what my men tell me, that Riddick has been killed, that we left behind only a dead body on that hell planet. I only wish that I could have brought proof back for the Lord Marshall, but - “
Vaako cut himself off, quickly, when Xander nearly sank a slam shiv – they really should have checked him over a little better before dragging him aboard their ship – straight into the man's throat. His teeth were bared in a snarl, and Vaako was lucky that he was as good of a warrior as he was as he sidestepped Xander's attempts to slam the shiv into his face. He finally caught Xander's arms, holding him still. “What are you doing?”
“Let me go
!” Xander roared, struggling against those hands.
He released him, immediately.
Howling, Xander slashed at him again, but this time, Vaako wrenched the shiv right out of his hands, and threw it hard enough to embed it in the wall. He snatched Xander's arms again, when he tried to hit him again, and slammed him back against the wall. “Stay
!” Xander roared, struggling against his hold. The taller man was stronger than he would have given him credit for.
“I was doing my duty.” Vaako said, fiercely, squeezing his forearms tighter than strictly necessary.
killed my mate
!” He howled, straining.
“And I apologize for that. You will learn to move beyond this, in due time.”
“In due fucking time
?!” He railed against his hands, trying to bite Vaako. He was good at biting, after all. “I don't want due time! I want my mate! I want the father of our child
to be alive!”
“Furyans mate, but are not trapped in only one mating for life. You can choose a new mate, in due - “
“If you say in due time
one more time, I will rip out your spleen!” Xander roared.
“You could choose to convert.” He said, still calm. But there was a darkness in Vaako's eyes that told him that even the man himself didn't believe what he was saying. “Though there are no Necromonger children.”
“Let me go
, Vaako,” he snarled.
The other man met his gaze, frowning, but didn't release Xander's arms. “There are always options open, for those that are willing to accept them.”
“Vaako. Let. Me. Go
The other man hesitated, then released his arms.
Xander jerked his arms back to himself, and hugged himself, trembling. He was too angry to think straight, but there was one thing he did
get – Vaako really hadn't done anything wrong, not really. He'd done what he'd been told to do, what any warrior would do. Vaako was
a Furyan, he was a warrior. But he knew who was
to blame for what had happened.
“I need access to the Lord Marshall.”
Vaako glanced at him, frowning. “What do you mean?”
“I need access to him.” He grit his teeth. “I need a way that I can get uninhibited access to the Lord Marshall. And you are going to give me that.”
“Why would I do that?” He frowned, arching a single brow.
“Because I am Lavelle,” he stepped closer to the other man, lifting his jaw, meeting Vaako's gaze. “And you'll do it.”
Vaako had a plan.
Xander didn't really like
the plan, but it was the only plan that Vaako had, and he didn't really want to push his luck. After all, he'd figured out that Vaako was a Furyan, but he had no idea how long the 'all Furyans listen to me' thing was going to last. Hell, it might just be some kind of identifying thing that he had that would work long enough to figure out if the person was Furyan or not, and then they'd go to just listening because he was
Lavelle, and then they might not have
to do it. So he went with the plan, even though it was probably insane.
They'd arrived on Helion, and he'd been whisked away to someone's living quarters – Vaako's, he thought – before anyone had even reported in that they'd arrived. He'd been pushed towards a shower, then Vaako had started arguing with a woman.
Xander had kept peeking out of the shower, curious, covered in suds. The woman was sort of terrifying, actually. Gorgeous, oh very very very gorgeous. But not a hair was out of place, not an eyelash was out of line. She was perfectly maintained, and flawless. But that was sort of unnatural, wasn't it, and the way she talked, she seemed so very much in control that it was actually sort of alarming. But her displeased expression finally smoothed as she apparently found some way to turn it to her advantage, and she gave Vaako several low orders before she swept out of the room, imperiously. He kind of had to wonder if other races had Alphas, too.
He'd gotten dressed in the clothes Vaako handed him, though he was suspicious, and as he fought with his hair, he demanded, “I thought you said you didn't remember being Furyan.”
“I don't.” He said, strapping his own ceremonial armour on. “But I remember this. Let's go.”
It had been strange, moving through the halls of the Basilica. No less than eight
Necromonger guards fell into place around him, and he wasn't really sure if it was supposed to be an honour guard, or a guard to make sure he didn't get the chance to burst out and kill someone. He suspected the latter.
They seemed to be in a rush, which he wasn't really surprised by. They wanted to get the Furyan – good god, he really had to play
the part of the Furyan, too, didn't he – to where they were taking him, as fast as possible. The guards kept glancing at him, as they walked. They were scared, weren't they? Holy fuck, they were scared
of him. What in the world had he ever done to make them scared of him? Oh right, he existed, and he was Furyan.
The throne room was huge. There were massive statues around the wholly impressive space he was lead into, of massive people twisted in pain and anger and death. He wouldn't have even thought 'throne room' except for the massive chair at the front of the room, the one that an older man was sitting in. His armour was even more over the top than even Vaako's was, black and vicious looking, with spine like and saw-blade like details.
The man looked... anxious. That was strange, wasn't it? Hell, the man was the leader of an entire race slavishly devoted to him and trusting completely in his ability to lead them to the Underverse. An entire species that felt no pain. Shouldn't he be the most secure person in the verse? But no, Xander supposed, anyone in that powerful of a position had to have equally powerful concerns weighing them down.
Oh god, what was he doing, embracing this whole 'Lavelle' thing? He should be running from power, not to it. He was no leader.
Too late now, though.
The Lord Marshall rose from his massive seat, smiling.
This is the man that had ordered Riddick killed.
The hand print on Xander's chest started to pulse
, glowing brighter, tendrils of that blue light creeping out from under his clothing, sneaking slowly down his arms, across his skin, like a living thing. He had to force himself still, because every fibre of his being said to leap forward, to tear the undead bastard heart from his chest, consequences be damned. This man had had his mate killed and by the verse itself, he would suffer
for that. The angershould
have freaked him out. He embraced it, instead.
“Lord Vaako,” the Lord Marshall was saying, holding out a hand, grinning. “I understand that congratulations are in order.”
“The Furyan Riddick is dead, my lord,” Vaako stepped forward, bowing his head.
Xander ground his teeth, fingernails digging into his palms.
“That is excellent news.” He grinned, that anxious hunch to his shoulders that he'd had before was now long gone. He looked perfectly relaxed, completely at ease, as though the man in charge of the largest conquering force in the verse or the under one hadn't a care in either of them.
No, Xander supposed, he probably didn't. Not with Riddick dead.
That anger bubbled up again, and he embraced it. Fed on it.
“I have a gift for you, my Lord Marshall,” Vaako spoke up again.
The Lord Marshall looked actually taken aback by that, and he hesitated for a moment before grinning, almost diabolically. “The Furyan's head, perhaps?”
“His body burns on the wastes of Crematoria,” Vaako said, and Xander admired the calmness with which he spoke. Like it was natural, calm, and confident. From behind, though, he could still see the tenseness of the other's shoulders. Vaako may seem confident and calm, but Xander suspected that he hated this man nearly
as much as he did, but for completely different reasons. “What I bring you is more valuable. I bring you Riddick's prime. His breeding partner.” The guards around him abruptly stepped back, revealing him behind them. “The Lavelle Alexander.”
Silence didn't fall. Silence dropped so heavily on them it was as though sound itself ceased to exist.
Xander lifted his chin. He would show no weakness.
His hair was loose, for the first time since it had been long enough to tie back, and he was pretty sure that the dark curls around his shoulder blades would have easily rivalled Cordy's anyway – well, for split ends and knots, anyway. There were feathers and beads woven in the curls, which Vaako had insisted was traditional. He never would have believed him if he hadn't seen his mother with the feathers earlier. He wore leather, leather pants and a leather vest laced up that he was frankly shocked actually fit his round belly. Leather bracers, leather boots, and a thick golden necklace, made of multiple layers of small bands, and he felt like either he'd just escaped from an eighties hairband, or he was trying to wear his mother's clothing. He wasn't sure which was worse.
But the ridiculous outfit seemed to have the desired effect, because the Lord Marshall's eyes widened dramatically. “You dare to bring - ?!”
“My Lord Marshall,” Vaako said quickly. “This one is no threat to you – his concern is for his child. But you have already destroyed the last of the Furyans, surely it would be the ultimate blow to the race to destroy their last Lavelle, the last heir. To show to this verse and the next that the Necromongers have finally ruled triumphant over their foes.”
He was talking too much. Trying to play to the man's sense of vanity – it was brilliant , really. But he was talking
too much, rambling.
Good god, Xander thought. Do we all
babble like idiots when we're trying too hard?”
But it worked.
“Yes,” the Lord Marshall said, slowly, a disturbing grin spreading slowly across his face. It was a twisted sort of grin, like that of a madman. “Yes, that's true.”
“Perhaps make an example of the Furyan breeder.” Vaako smirked.
He laughed, a low, deep chuckle. It was the laugh of a man secure in the knowledge that he was safe, that he had defied a prophesy, that he had escaped his fate. “Yes, that
sounds like an excellent plan.”
“Wait until the perfect moment,” he prompted, smirking. Vaako seemed a little
too into this whole “betrayal of Xander” thing for his liking.
“Yes,” the Lord Marshall drawled, looking Xander up and down. It was a totally creepy moment, and he suddenly understood what people meant by “undressing them with their eyes”. He'd always assumed it was like when Riddick did it, and he always seemed to just look right through clothes, which the perve probably did
, what with the infa-red vision or something. It was as though Riddick deemed them superfluous and looked straight through them to whatever was beneath. But that was just sort of sexy. This was a degrading sort of feeling, and made him want to throw his hands in front of himself. He resisted the urge, but only just. “Yes. In his due time.”
Oh, he hated that term.
This time, Xander didn't resist the urge to snarl, but just as he'd sort of expected, the Lord Marshall just laughed.
“Oh yes, I shall enjoy this.” He settled himself back into his throne, smirking. “Have the Furyan breeder brought to my chambers.”
The “honour guard” that had surrounded him before stepped around him again, close, and ushered him away. He was more reluctant to follow without Vaako leading the way, but it wasn't as though he had a whole lot of choice here, did he?
“Now, Vaako,” the Lord Marshall was saying as he was lead out of the room. “Today really is a day of days...”
Dame Vaako was a woman who knew what she wanted.
And when she wanted it, she got it.
She'd been Dame Thorne once, Dame Elai before that, and Dame Len and Dame Malloy and Dame Kern. Before that she'd just been a new convert named Paala. She'd caught onto the faith, the deep beliefs that ran through every decision made in the Necromonger society very quickly – and set to using it to her advantage, at once. She couldn't remember how long, exactly, she'd been one of the converted, but she had used her time to her full advantage.
She'd been accused of killing her former husbands, before, and it was true that a few had died before their due time. But Dame Vaako was loyal til Underverse come.
As long as it suited her.
She'd essentially slept her way though the ranks of the Necromonger elite, and though it had taken her generations of normal mortal life, she'd gottenvery
close to the top. Vaako was, after all, now the Lord Marshall's second. Any higher, and she'd be sleeping with the Lord Marshall himself.
She wouldn't be adverse to that, were he a little less pathetic.
She'd rather been intrigued by that breeder, Riddick. It was one of the few times in her life as a Necromonger that she'd seriously considered leaving a current husband for a reason other than sheer power. He had been a man that a deep instinctual part of herself had just wanted
. A man like that could handle a woman like her. But now he was dead, mores the pity, and her husband was far more powerful.
But Riddick's mate
was still alive, wasn't he? He looked the part of a scruffy youngling, which would never do, but he was
a Lavelle. Perhaps the Lord Marshall's way of exacting revenge on the race would be to convert the Lavelle. He'd done so before with the Purifier, after all, perhaps once he was converted and that pesky issue of a child
was dealt with, she could become a Dame Alexander.
It didn't have the same tingle up the spine thrill ring that Dame Riddick gave her, but it would do.
Rather pleased with herself and this plan of action, she slipped out of the Basilica, rather planning on levering in her success among the people – but stopped dead, instead.
The ships were lifting from the ground.
They were leaving.
The other nobles looked as stunned and confused as she felt, and soldiers were moving up the stairs, intent on getting inside. It made no sense. They weren't due to leave for – well, for days, at least enough time to gather new converts and bring all their soldiers back. Why were they leaving now? What had happened?
One of the armoured guards slammed into her shoulder, and she spun, furious, ready to show the man the proper respect he should pay to the wife of the Lord Marshall's second.
Only something about him was wrong.
Gathering up her skirts, which were stunning for entrances and appearances, but terrible for actual movement, she ran after him.
So intent was she on finding out if her suspicions were correct that she barely even noticed the massive doors closing behind them. Or the hammering of those trapped outside, trying to get in.
She could just see the back of the man's armoured head, but he turned just a fraction, like he knew she was watching.
His eyes were a cold silver blue of unnatural light.
She'd seen those eyes before.
On a man that had once told her that it had been a long time he'd smelled beautiful and made even her dead Necromonger heart seem to jump. On a man her husband had told her was dead. On a man whose mate she'd been considering making her next conquest.
And then Riddick was gone.
Dame Vaako sucked in a sharp, strictly unnecessary breath, and darted to the wisest place that she thought she could use to her advantage – her quarters.
She barely waited until the door slammed shut behind her before jabbing her finger into her startled husband's chest. “You have failed
! The Furyan still lives, and you told the Lord Marshall that he had been slain! Now your failure will destroy all I’ve done!”
Vaako gaped at her like some dim witted child. “What makes you believe this?!”
him, Vaako! Not dead. Quite alive.”
He grabbed her arm, as though he were in the one in charge in their situation, gripping tightly. For another woman, it might have hurt. “Could you be mistaken?”
“There is no mistaking your failure
,” she hissed. “He lives.”
Her husband released her arm as though burned by her, and stepped back, looking stunned.
“Well?” She snapped. “What do you propose we do now to salvage this disaster?”
“I must tell Xander.”
?” She repeated, gaping at him. She has always thought that Vaako was more of a physically intelligent man than a mentally intelligent one, but this statement made no sense. It did not mesh with the image she had long ago developed of her fiercely loyal – to an idiotic fault – husband. “You mean the Lavelle Alexander
Vaako scooped up several knives, tucking them in his belt.
“What is this, that you intend to arm yourself up and then perhaps lead the Lavelle to find his mate?” She threw up her hands. “No, Vaako. This can be turned to our advantage. The Lord Marshall has ordered the fleet to leave the planet. He is afraid of the Furyan.”
He glanced at her. “And what matters of this to me?”
“He fears him. That means he has weakness. If he has weakness, he is not fit to lead us to the Underverse.”
Dame Vaako laid her hand on his chest, as though trying to feel a heartbeat that wasn't actually there. Even though the fabric of his shirt, she felt heat on his chest. Heat? “Don't just do it for the power, Vaako. Do it for the faith. With an unworthy leader, we will never see the glory of the Underverse.”
“What would you have me do?” He demanded. “Simply keep what I kill?”
“It is the Necromonger way!” Dame Vaako was widely considered to be an expert on what exactly was the Necromonger way. After all, hadn't she married every one of her husbands by killing their previous wives?
Her husband finally nodded.
She has always been good at making men do what she wanted them to do. And Vaako had always followed her, almost obediently, like he really believed it was his duty. His innocence was actually delicious. “This can still be a day of days. But it must be done flawlessly. Do not let yourself become distracted from what you must do just because some little prince smiled at you.”
“I am loyal,” he said fiercely, which told her more about what Vaako actually thought of the Lavelle than he had perhaps meant to say. She had never once implied that that smile would imply unfaithfulness. Interesting. “Til Underverse come.”
“Naturally, my lord.” She smirked, patting his chest again.
Dame Vaako blinked, willing to admit that she was actually startled by that reaction, and touched his chest again. “What is troubling you, my Lord Vaako?”
“Nothing is troubling me,” he said, quickly.
Naturally, he was lying.
She took a step closer to him, and tugged the front of his dress uniform open. He had removed his armour after being named second, and she felt that he should leave it this way – for the Lord Marshall to be killed by his second, and by a second that didn't even deem the Lord Marshall enough of a threat to even wear his armour would make the kill that much sweeter. Perhaps Vaako could be known as the Fearless when he become the seventh Lord Marshall. But as she tore the uniform open, she revealed something she'd never seen before – a blue hand-print glowing on his chest. “What is this?”
“If Riddick is truly coming, we need to prepare ourselves,” He stepped back, not answering the question.
“Vaako!” She said, sharply. Now was not the time for her husband to be developing a back bone. “What is
“A mark,” he said at last, pulling himself up a little straighter.
“A mark of what
?” She laid her hand over the hand print. It was only a fraction larger than her own print would have been, and pulsed hot against her skin. She even swore, for a moment, that she felt a heartbeat beneath her palm.
“The anger of a race,” he answered her, and Vaako sounded different. More in control. “The wrath of the Furyans.”
Paala, called Dame Vaako, actually laughed.
Her hand still curled on her husband's chest, she laughed, a bitter, derisive sound, as she shook her head. “Is that what your Lavelle has told you, that he has somehow marked you as some kind of messenger for him? That somehow you carry a Furyan mark?”
The hand print flared hotter under her fingers, burning hot, and blue light rippled outward. Vaako abruptly caught her wrists, holding her still and stern for a moment, teeth bared in an impressive snarl, eyes narrowed. “It means, Dame Vaako, that I am Furyan
. We all began as something else.”
She met his gaze for a long moment, then laughed, and pushed him away from her.
Naturally, Vaako dropped her hands, and stepped back.
“Some Furyan you are,” she sneered. “A whipped, broken shadow of a man that can't even kill a single breeder with a battalion. You disgust me. A snivelling prime that never moved beyond once he was converted.”
He simply glared back at her. He had no answer.
“Furyans are marked now, are they?” Baring her own teeth, Paala gripped the collar of her skin tight dress, that covered her chin to toe in snake skin, and tore the tough fabric right open, exposing her chest, her collarbone. Exposing the dully glowing blue hand print on her chest, just above her left breast. “Then I, too, am marked. Yes, Vaako. We all began as something else. This is what I began as.”
Oh, to be able to capture her husband's expression for all time. It was positively priceless.
“You are Furyan?!”
“I was.” She snapped, drawing herself up to her full height. It was not an impressive height. “I converted, Vaako. Voluntarily. In fact, I eagerly joined the glorious Necromonger faith. I left behind all that was
“I had no idea...” He said, slowly.
“That is how it should be, Vaako.” She snapped. “We are Necromongers only. We have left behind anything we may have been before we started forward towards the Underverse.”
He actually looked torn.
Baring her teeth again, Paala realized that the loyalties of her earnest, too-hard-working husband had already been swayed. He was no longer slavishly loyal to her and the Necromonger faith. His loyalties had somehow been shifted to a species he'd forgotten about, to a boy Lavelle. She remember the loyalty, although she didn't feel it herself, remembered the need hardwired into them to obey the Lavelle's every wish. Not from fear. From an instinctual need to please the Lavelle. To make them happy. But she'd been a bit of a freak of their society, wasn't she, the female Alphas just didn't fit the pattern of everyone else. If they were mated, Vaako would have stayed perfectly loyal to her, but that would be acting on instincts she'd deliberately quashed. “Then act to save your Lavelle, Vaako. In either case, whether you do it to save our people or to save your prince, the Lord Marshall must die.”
“Yes.” he agreed.
“Flawless, Vaako,” she said firmly. “It must be flawless.”
Riddick and the Purifier moved through the crowds of Necromonger soldiers like a miniature invasion force, single minded and focused. They both wore the armour of common Necro soldiers, though they looked ridiculous. The Purifier had always been in an elaborately elegant simple set, and Riddick was simply too broad to fit the uniform properly.
They'd been seen, earlier, by one of the lensors – the twisted once-men with faces that were more machine than flesh. They'd killed it, naturally, but the way people were moving about the ship now, they knew that they knew.
Riddick seemed to like that they knew.
The Purifier knew where to go, though, where to hide and where to linger and where to hurry, so soon they were outside the throne room itself, without any resistance.
Riddick tore off the superfluous armour, dressed only in the breast plate. “We may not come out of this alive.”
“I know.” The Purifier removed his helmet, tossing it aside. It clattered on the floor, but over the hum of movement and conversation from within the throne room, no one heard it. He offered his hand. “It is a pleasure waging battle with you.”
He smirked, and clapped the other's forearm, a warrior's handshake, then stepped back, tugging out his blades.
“Avenge your mate,” The Purifier perhaps had a little of that inspiring Lavelle left to him. “Embrace the rage.”
Riddick grinned, almost ferally, and slid the blades against each other.Schnickt.
It was a metallic slide, with a ting
at the end, like it almost caught.Schnickt.Schnickt.Schnickt.
The two guards watching the door itself turned, to investigate. Which was when Riddick plunged those blades straight into the guards's throats, throwing them back, forcing the doors open as he did. As entrances go, the only way he could have improved on that was if he'd slammed his way in and had had the Purifier standing behind him with a machine gun. It was a shame they had no machine guns in space.
Still, it was really something.
Especially when Riddick literally launched himself at the Lord Marshall, planning to plunge the knife into his chest.
The Lord Marshall moved faster than any human had the right to move, and back handed Riddick, throwing him away across the room. He hit a rank of soldiers, and knocked them over like bowling pins. He scrambled up, baring his teeth.
“Riddick.” The Lord Marshall walked slowly down the steps, almost casually. His entire reign had been building up to this moment. He was ready. “You lived.”
“You won't.” Riddick growled.
“It doesn't have to be this way, my friend. The Necromongers embrace those who have no place in this verse, and assure them a place in the Underverse. Join us, Riddick. Become a part of our glorious future.”
“Others have embraced our message, Riddick.”
The Lord Marshall held out a hand, like a father leading a child out, and he smiled, tightly. From the crowed, two figures moved forward, in black, tattered, ragged robes. The taller of the two was a short, serene looking woman with short blond hair and bright as the Hades sky blue eyes, though almost milky now, clouded. Her hands were resting on the shoulder of a child, but not her own little boy, Ali, but the girl the Imam had introduced as Shazza's, Ziza. Ziza had a far away look in her whiskey coloured eyes, like she was lost.
“Fry,” he breathed.
She looked up at him, smiling softly, serenely. “It hurts, at first. They don't lie to you, about that. But the pain fades, and everything becomes... clear. You can almost see the Underverse through his eyes.”
“C'mon, Fry, you're stronger than this bull shit,” Riddick growled. “This is not you.”
“Listen to your friend, Riddick.” The Lord Marshall said calmly, confident. “She understands what it means to be accepted, now. To belong in something. And the child... the child is my new Purifier. Since my old one seems to have... defected.”
The Purifier – the old one, that is – smirked, and fell into place behind Riddick. “A child.”
“It seemed an eloquent solution,” he said lightly, reaching out to tug Ziza's hood back, then set his hand on her curls, which seemed to have something of a life of their own. “The little lamb shall lead the masses to the Underverse.”
It was like the Lord Marshall had deliberately tried to pinpoint Riddick's trigger points, and use them against him. Children and those he cared about. In this case, both in one.
“Fry.” He said, sharply. “Wake up. Save the child.”
“There's no pain, Riddick,” she said, softly, and just stepped back, out of the way, as though she knew that a fight was coming. Perhaps she did. “It has been so long since I have not had pain.”
Ziza, in a soft, childish lisp, said, “The Underverse waits for us.”
The child was just the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.
Riddick roared, and threw a dagger at the Lord Marshall.
A collective gasp ran through the crowd, as the leader reeled back, silently. It took a long few, anxious moments before he straightened, holding the dagger tightly. “It's been a long time since I’ve seen my own blood.” He said, trying to sound light and jovial and utterly failing. He lowered his hand, revealing that the blade had only nicked the side of the man's jaw, but no one else had ever been able to manage even that. He'd thought he'd beat the prophesy. Now he wasn't so sure.
“You'll see a lot more of it,” he promised, sliding the ulaks from his belt with another schnickt
, and launched himself at the man.
To say that they were equally matched would be a bit of a misnomer. They were both fast, but the Lord Marshall was faster. They were both strong, but Riddick was stronger. But to say that no observer could tell how the fight could possibly go by how they fought alone, that would certainly be accurate. They fought like this was what they had been building up to their whole lives, like everything was dependent on this one moment. A lifetime of training for a single combat. It was the very essence of poetry in motion, a choreography of death and bloodshed. The promise of more blood was upheld – for both of the men. At any moment, one might tip the scales in their favour.
And then the Lord Marshall did exactly that.
With a resounding crash, he broke one of the display spears that were part of the statue displays over Riddick's back, and the man fell, stunned. Almost lazily, over confident again, the Lord Marshall stepped forward, hefting the broken spear, lifting it to impale the last Furyan. “It is your due time, Riddick. I am only sorry you won't get to see the Under - “
He cut himself off when someone launched themselves at him from the crowd. He knocked them away, too fast for the eye to follow, and they slammed against one of those decorative fineries, impaled on an artistic spike.
Carolyn Fry, who had survived shipwreck, the massacre of her crew by aliens, a mercenary ship where they intended to kill her for sport, and even the invasion of the planet she'd made her home, cried out softly as blood bubbled from between her lips, and she slumped off of the spike, collapsing bonelessly to the throne room floor. She was crying, gurgling softly as she struggled to breathe.
She always had been the noble type, hadn't she?
The Lord Marshall turned from Fry's body, disgusted, and sneered at Riddick. “And now your friends die uselessly for you, Riddick. One last chance. Convert, or die as she did.”
Riddick threw the ulak this time.
Perhaps he was blinded by rage because he threw it wide, far left of where the Lord Marshall stood. The Lord Marshall laughed at the poor aim, stepping closer to Riddick, intending to finish the blow he'd meant to lay earlier. He stopped laughing, however, when the ulak whistled back through the air and slammed the Lord Marshall in the back, slamming hard enough to pierce the armour.
There was a soft thump
to the side, and Riddick barely spared Vaako a glance. The man had landed lightly on one knee, having leapt from a higher landing, a massive bladed pole weapon in hand.
But Vaako wanted Riddick to pay attention.
His collar was unfastened, hanging open and more dishevelled than he could ever remember looking, but as a result it bared the Furyan mark. It was glowing, pulsing hotter now that he was down on this level, and he said firmly, “Riddick.”
The other man's blue-silver eyes flicked to him – then to the mark.
Hoping that the other understood, Vaako swung that massive weapon at the Lord Marshall as though trying to decapitate him. Naturally, the extremely fast man began to move, to get out of the way, which Vaako had anticipated. But he wasn't there to kill the Lord Marshall.
He was there to distract him.
Riddick had seen him coming, and anticipated where he was moving to.
And at the exact moment that the swiftly moving Lord Marshall “reappeared” in a new location, Riddick plunged a Necromonger dagger straight down, and into the top of the man's head.
The very air itself seemed to hold its breath.
Riddick twisted his hand to the side, snapping the handle right off of the blade, leaving the blade entirely buried inside the man's skull.
The Lord Marshall stayed upright for another few moments, as though he could possibly recover, then he dropped, heavily, like a sack of wet concrete. There was no life left in that body whatsoever.
“Was that your due time
?” Riddick sneered, then moved forward to check on Fry.
She'd been a good friend, once.
“Riddick...” she rasped, when he touched her shoulder, crouching beside her. Those blue eyes were unfocused and lost, but she recognized him. “Ziza... I have to tell you...”
“Don't worry about the kid,” he told her sternly.
“It's important...” she rasped. “Please... Ziza....”
“I know.” He said.
Her shoulders slumped a though he'd just taken a huge weight off her shoulders. “Xander...”
“I know, Fry,” he said again, and gently touched her eyelids, lowering them over those sky blue eyes as she went still, and stood, slowly. It was too much. Everyone he'd tried to keep alive had died. He'd told Lynn the truth when he said that those he cared about died. They always died. Fry, the boys, Shazza, Jack, Paris, Lynn, Dr. Silverman... Xander.
He sank into a handy seat, not even noticing that it was the Lord Marshall's throne.
Everything he loved – and yes, he loved
– was dead.
Shading his eyes with his hand, Riddick just breathed. His revenge was complete. The Lord Marshall was dead, the Furyan race was avenged. Xander's killer had been repaid.
He didn't feel better.
There was movement, and he shifted his hand off his damp eyes to blink at the sight before him. In waves, row after row, the Necromongers were dropping to one knee. Kneeling as he had, once, to a scruffy teenager in a brightly coloured shirt. But they were bowing to him. Only two remained standing – Vaako and the Purifier. They both stood before the throne, the only two among them who thumped a fist against their chests instead of bowing.
They recognized him as a Furyan leader.
The others were recognizing him as a Necromonger leader.
He'd killed the Lord Marshall.
“You keep what you kill,” he breathed.
He was the new Lord Marshall.
It was Vaako who stepped forward, resting a hand on the armrest of the chair, leaning forward to murmur, quietly, to Riddick. His heart clenched for a moment, instinct telling him to kill the man that had been his enemy before, but there was something significantly different
about the man. “Riddick. Perhaps it would be best to get you somewhere safer for now.”
“Would you advise that?” He growled.
Vaako turned slightly, meeting his eyes. The man looked awake
now. “Yes. I do.”
Riddick waited a moment, to see it the man would try to convince him more, which would be a sure sign that he wanted him to leave the room for a specific reason, but Vaako just leaned back, waiting.
He nodded, and rose. “Lead the way.”
The Purifier fell into step behind them as they left. “Shall I talk to them?”
“Do whatever you want,” Riddick rumbled. He really didn't care.
“You may be Lord Marshall by rights, but this will cause unrest among the ranks. An unconverted leader will make them question their chances of reaching the Underverse.” Vaako said, frowning. “They may not trust you
anymore, however,” He glanced at the Purifier.
He smirked tightly. “I'll take my chances. Ah – should I order the destruction of Helion Prime finished, or - ?”
“Of course,” he nodded, and broke away from the pair, heading back towards the throne, holding his hands out. “I come to speak to you, faithful!”
Vaako led Riddick out of the throne room, and into the blessed silence of the empty hallways. They walked together, silently, their boots ringing through the hallways as they walked.
“Your wife pissed you betrayed your Necro faith?” Riddick said abruptly.
“I have no idea what the Dame Vaako feels on this issue,” Vaako said tightly. “Though I imagine she will be less angry than she might have been because she is also Furyan.”
He glanced at him, sharply.
Vaako smirked, tightly, and gave him the only response he could muster: “We all began as something else.”
“Twelve, thirteen, fourteen...”
Xander was chained, a loop around his wrists that was connected to a massive ring set into the top of the Lord Marshall's headboard. Yeah, to add insult to injury, he'd been captured, his mate had been murdered, and in order to get the revenge he needed to sate the boiling in his blood, he had to put up with the indignity of literally being chained to the man's goddamn bed
He was pretty sure the Lord Marshall's plans for him weren't just conversion.
But Vaako had ordered the guards to leave Xander as he was when they hustled him off to the quarters. And sure, they'd taken the apparently ceremonial dagger he'd had strapped to his waist, but they hadn't taken Revas' hairpin out of his hair.
And it was gripped tightly in his fingers, now. He fully planned to kill another tyrant with it.
“Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen...”
He could hear the footsteps coming closer. He'd started counting the first time he started hearing footsteps, and was keeping track. They'd got closer, then every time, when they hit twenty one steps, they turned, and went twenty one steps the other direction. A patrolling guard, probably.
“Eighteen, nineteen, twenty - “
They stopped. No twenty first step, no turn around, just silence.
Then the door opened.
Xander shifted back, hiding the hairpin in the small of his back, and waited. The newcomer – the Lord fucking Marshall – didn't turn on the lights. Bastard probably was trying to freak him out.
But he was good
at this. He could see in the dark.
He watched the hot body move closer in the pitch black. It would be easier with a little
light. Riddick had been brilliant at seeing in the dark, but Xander had had difficulty with full blackness ever since Toombs had cut out his eye. Just couldn't communicate between what he could see and what he should be able to see, if he'd had two eyes still, he supposed. But he still watched as he moved closer to the bed, then halted abruptly. For a long moment, the Lord Marshall just stood beside it, before he finally shifted forward to actually crawl onto the bed.
Xander waited until he came just within range, then swung.
He caught his wrist, stilling the progress of his swing, and Xander snarled, “Son of a bitch. I am going to fucking kill - “
He shifted closer, and Xander sucked in a sharp breath.
“Stab me, bitch, and you'll regret it.”
“Riddick!” Xander howled, jerking on his chain, wishing to all hell that he wasn't still chained up. He wanted
to throw his arms around the other man and kiss him until he couldn't see straight, and never let him go. He'd really thought he'd lost Riddick. Again.
Fortunately, Riddick did it for him.
He was still gripping his arm as he pressed his other hand against Xander's lower back, hauling him forward and into his lap, pulling Xander against his chest as he pinned his arms between them, and kissed him fiercely. It was a demanding, ravenous kiss, really less kissing and more possessing. Curling his fingers over the top of the breastplate that Riddick wore and still wishing that his hands were free, he threw himself into the moment, into the affection – it was a sort of affection, anyway – and thanked anything that would listen that he had Riddick back.
The verse was right again.
“Where the fuck - “ he gasped, through feverish kisses, trying to get even closer to Riddick, but that was hard. It wasn't easy to get closer when you were already skin to skin. “ - have you been?”
He snorted, nipping firmly at Xander's jaw. “I was taking revenge. For your mother.”
“My mother?” he panted, gripping tighter at the edge of the breastplate.
“Well, it ain't some other Furyan prince I’m fucking whose mother sent me on a mission to avenge the deaths of a whole fucking species,” he rolled his eyes, nipping at Xander's jaw again, making him bleed, and lapped the blood up. He loved making him bleed.
Xander groaned, and clutched at him, biting at Riddick's earlobe, where he could reach it. “How'd you know she was my mother?”
“Because she threatened to gut me if I hurt you.” He smirked against the other's skin, working at drawing blood again.
“How is she – she supposed to do that?” He panted. “She's dead.”
“No idea.” Riddick rumbled, and bit at the hollow of Xander's throat, rumbling with laughter as he cried out, arching into him.
“Bastard,” he grumbled, and wriggled his fingers. “Unchain me.”
Riddick smirked. “Is that an order?”
Xander pouted. “C'mon, Riddick, I want to touch. I’ve got my mate back. I want to touch
“Later.” He drawled, and shifted himself, making Xander slide back off his lap with a yelp, and then pushed the younger man back further, holding those chained hands pinned above his head. And then
he tugged out a small dagger to slide it under the laces on the front of Xander's pants, slicing straight through them.
“You are not
going to fuck me still chained up!” He yelped.
Riddick just smirked.
“Oh you suck
,” he rumbled, struggling against the chains again, trying to get free.
But an hour or so later, he barely even registered when Riddick did
remove the chains, lazily. He was kind of distracted, and just sort of rolled towards him a little, lowering his stiff arms to curl one of them over Riddick's bare chest, curling into him. “Heh. I suppose I should take off the ruined clothes, huh?”
“Hm.” Riddick shrugged slightly, not really caring.
you kill the Lord Marshall?” he asked, finally, squirming even closer to him, almost lazily, tucking his head under Riddick's jaw. It was a bit more 'snuggly' than he was pretty sure the other would have liked, but Riddick also didn't argue, so he went with it. Made him happy, if nothing else. “I mean, I figure you probably wouldn't be here if you hadn't, and there was that whole prophesy thing and everything, but... did you?”
Xander slumped slightly, closing his eye. The verse was now an even better place to be. “Okay. Okay. That's – thank you.”
“Well, it seems like a good response!” Xander protested, flushed. “Would you really rather I went all 'well god dammit, you should've left some killing for me to do'? I mean, the guy royally fucked up everything! He destroyed our planet, our species!”
“He killed Fry.”
Xander froze. His eye was wide in shock, and he bolted up, gaping at his lover. “He killed Fry
“Converted her,” he said, looking up at Xander. “She tried to convince me to join, too. But then she – woke up, or something. Tried to kill the Lord Marshall. He killed her.”
“Son of a – but the children
.” Xander paled. “Imam has them, right?”
“Don't know. Shazza's kid is here.”
“They converted her.” Riddick frowned. “Said they needed a new Purifier, that a child would lead them.”
“They - “ Xander gaped at him, starting to tremble. The hand print on his chest was starting to flare again, blue light trailing down his arms, his torso, up his neck. “They converted
He nodded, frowning.
Xander scrambled out of the bed, jerking his pants back up. He swore when he realized that the strings were still cut from Riddick's hasty attempt to get him out of them – he'd completely forgotten about that. Struggling for a moment to get them done up, he finally just swore and left it. At least there was a leather piece inside that prevented him just sort of falling out
or something, and he shoved Revas' hairpin back in his belt. “Well?!” He demanded. “Come on! I need you to lead the way! We have to go!”
“Do we?” He arched a brow.
, Riddick! We have to go save Ziza!”
“You know I hate when things happen to children, but - “
“She's your daughter!”
It's a sight not seen very often, for that literal bundle of action to be stilled for any reason, or for any length of time, but he absolutely went completely still.
“Yes, dammit! Your daughter! My daughter! Imam has had her, he promised to take care of her, fuck, he even named
her. Named her after Shazza's child when they both
Riddick was suddenly off the bed, teeth bared as he gripped Xander's throat. It wasn't tight enough to be anything more than just uncomfortable, but the obvious rage was almost palpable in the air. “You said our child was dead.”
“I said she wasn't breathing when she was born.” Xander lifted his jaw, exposing his throat.
“That's dead.” He snarled.
“Imam said it was a miracle.” He said, tightly. “She was blue
, Riddick. Umbilical cord got wrapped around her neck, but after he cut it off, she made this sound... but she never cried.”
her and let me think she was dead.” he snarled.
Xander bared his teeth right back, like an angry animal. “You're the most wanted man in the verse. There was a huge bounty on my head. If you'd known, you would have gone to see her. It was better she was just Shazza's child, or people like Toombs would go after her!” He pointed at his eye-patch “This is what he did to the lover
of the Riddick, what the hell do you think he'd do to the child
of the Riddick?!”
“Later,” he said abruptly, dropping his hand, and tugging his own pants back on. He'd not bother with a shirt.
“Yeah, I know.” He panted, and hurried towards the door. “Later, I owe you - “
The door slammed open, and Xander spun, jerking that hairpin out of his belt again – then hesitated when he realized that it was Vaako. “What the – do people just normally
bust in here?”
Vaako nodded quickly to Xander, not an answer, just sort of a brief sign of respect, then brushed right past him to bow his head again, this time to Riddick. “I know I should not have intruded, but you're needed. Immediately.”
“What is it now?” He frowned, pushing past them both to leave the room.
They both followed.
“There is some... unrest... among the faithful.” Vaako seemed to be selecting his words carefully. “They're rather threatening to tear your Purifier limb from limb.”
Xander looked at him sharply. “Your
“The old one, or the new one?” Riddick frowned, and their pace picked up.
“The old one.”
“Hm.” He frowned, brows furrowed.
Purifier?” Xander repeated.
“It's the Necromonger way,” Vaako explained, glancing over at Xander. “You keep what you kill.”
“So? What does that – oh my god.”
Riddick smirked tightly.
“Oh my god
, you're the goddamn Lord Marshall!” Xander yowled. “Holy crap
, you're actually the Lord Marshall, aren't you? You actually rule the Necromongers!”
Riddick didn't answer, but Vaako did nod. “Yes. He does.”
“Do you – do you have to destroy planets and shit now?” He looked horrified. “Or can you make them wake up?!”
“He's to lead us to the Underverse.” Vaako answered.
“Fuck the Underverse,” Xander squawked. “We need Ziza back!”
“Our daughter.” Riddick rumbled, and threw the doors open, marching into the middle of a riot.
Everywhere, people were shouting, protesting something. Probably the fact that a Furyan, the very species they had been trying to eliminate for thirty years, was now their Lord Marshall. How were they to go to the Underverse with him as their leader? He would never Crusade, they'd never reach it in their due time.
The Purifier – their old one – wasn't dead. He was trying to calm them down, to reassure them that they would get to the Underverse. But it was a losing battle.
It didn't help that a very charismatic, calm as anything little girl stood on the throne itself, holding her hands out. “The pilgrimage must progress. The Underverse waits, and it is beautiful, faithful ones!”
“Ziza!” Xander cried, in horror.
The girl lowered her hands, smiling softly. “Lo, the Furyans speak.”
Every head snapped to look at them.
“Ah, the Lord Marshall...” The Purifier grinned, relieved, and headed forward. The crowd – and it really was a crush of humanity crammed into the space – stepped aside to let him through. He stepped right behind the other three, hovering just behind Xander's shoulder. “They seem rather... unsure of their future, now, my Lord.”
Stony faces met their gaze – no Necromonger in the crowd was going to betray weakness – or
admit that they didn't trust their new leader.
“They are fools.”
The crowds parted again, this time to allow Dame Paala Vaako through the crowd. She wore a dress that left very little to the imagination, which clung tightly to her curves and had a deeply plunging neckline, which showed not only an enticing taste of decolletage, but also the glowing blue hand print just above her left breast. “They are fools,” She said again. “The Necromonger way is changing. There is a new force. If we reach the Underverse in our due time, it will only be due to the leadership of a new
Paala stepped up behind Vaako's shoulder, matching the Purifier's position. It was like a traditional honour guard. Flanking their leader.
Five warriors, each with the glowing hand print on their chest.
“They are unconverted,” Ziza said, voice soft and light. Not like the voice of a child. “What do they know of the glory of the Underverse?”
The blue hand prints began to glow brighter.
“Ziza.” Xander said firmly, taking a step forward. Riddick threw out a hand to halt him, but Xander shoved the Lord Marshall's arm away and kept walking. That was his baby
, god dammit. “Ziza. Wake up.”
“I am awake. I have been woken from my ignorant sleep.” She said, dreamily.
The hand print on Xander's chest was really glowing now. Like before, the tendrils of light seemed to crawl over him, but now they were spreading to his fingertips, up his jaw. His eye had begun to glow like a torch. “Ziza.” He said again. “Wake. Up.”
“Join us. Convert.” She seemed unconcerned that Xander stood right in front of her now. But her eyes were unfocused, glazed. “Join us in the Underverse.”
He reached out, and placed his now glowing palm against her chest. “Wake up.”
And then Xander exploded.
That is, the blue light that had begun to completely engulf him flared out like a supernova, all but swallowing Ziza, then blasting out across the room, and beyond. It absorbed the men and women that stood throughout the throne room, knocking about two thirds of them down to the floor. It was strange, that some just had to throw their hands in front of their eyes and try to avoid getting burned, but nearly two thirds of the room were literally thrown back, slamming to the floor, hard. The light burned in their retinas even after the flare of blue was gone, but finally it passed, and Xander slowly slid to the floor, on his knees, eye wide and stunned.
Ziza let out a soft whimpering sound, and slumped to sit in the throne itself.
Riddick was there, in a heartbeat, hauling Xander to his feet. The younger man clutched at his lover's shoulders, shaking slightly, breathing sharp and hard, like he'd just run a marathon. But he shifted slightly, still clinging to Riddick as he reached out to Ziza.
The little girl reached out with trembling fingers, slipping a chubby hand into his.
There was a cry of pain, or surprise, perhaps both, from somewhere in the crowd, and Xander looked up sharply. He was still clutching at Ziza's hand and Riddick's shoulders, curled tight into his mate with his child, but he watched, stunned, as men and women in the crowd stood up and turned on those that had fallen. Those that had been knocked down by the blast of blue light were being killed, en masse
, across the room.
“What the hell...?” Xander whispered.
“Look,” Riddick rumbled, quietly.
Frowning, he looked around the room, then did notice the common denominator that Riddick had already spotted – every one that was standing, those that were doing the killing, had a blue hand print just visible through the collars of their armour and dresses, and those that were being killed, the majority of the group, really, did not have the blue hand prints. A third of the Necromonger army had been Furyan, before they had been converted.
And the Furyans had woken up.
It was over, fairly quickly.
The Necromongers, after all, were a race that held tightly to the belief that “you keep what you kill”. So at any given moment, they were ready to leap on any man or woman that had what they wanted, to kill them to get it. “Do not covet” that Xander remembered from his childhood was the very antithesis of the Necromonger way. So while those standing, splattered with the blood of a fallen faith, weren't exactly Necromongers anymore, they held enough connection with them that the impulse to kill still sang in their blood. Or maybe that was the Furyan part of them, waking up. Xander wasn't really sure which it was.
Ziza tugged at the leather braces Xander wore, and he instinctively tugged her up, settling her on his hip and trying to juggle her and, well his stomach. His stomach actually hurt – probably the whole explosion of light thing, whatever the hell
that had been. It had drained him, whatever it was. He felt like he'd been hollowed out, his insides emptied out of him. Like his anger had been burned out of him.
Riddick reached out and pushed Ziza a little higher in Xander's arms.
It was just such a fatherly thing for the other to have done that Xander hesitated for a moment, startled. The other man smirked crookedly at him, then said, quietly, “Xander. Look.”
He almost failed to look, actually. Riddick had actually
called him by his name. He was pretty sure he was allowed to be startled. But then he realized that Riddick really was tugging his wrist, leading him to look, and he glanced, quickly, out over the throne room itself.
And gaped at what he saw.
Thousands of men and women, in armour and ceremonial robes, with saw blade and spine motifs in their jewelry and their decorations, literally an entire army, had all dropped to one knee. They knelt in the blood of an entire swiftly defeated race, and bowed their heads as one, those blue hand prints glowing just visible above their collars.
“What...?” Xander said, confused.
“You rule an actual nation now,” Riddick smirked, and nodded at the assembled army. “They're all yours, Lavelle.”
no, you're the Lord Marshall!” Xander squeaked.
“Necromongers don't exist. They killed them.”
“They keep what they kill,” Xander said, swallowing. “Now the Furyans are
the Necros. We own everything they owned, that's what they are. Besides, dammit, Lavelles are spiritual leaders – you
lead them! I just tell 'em what – oh
“Oh?” Riddick frowned.
He swallowed. “Can someone find us a doctor?”
Riddick just frowned, arching a brow. The question was obvious – he wanted to know why the hell he needed medical help. After all, he hadn't been injured. He wasn't bleeding. He looked completely fine.
Xander cleared his throat.
“Ah... baby's coming.”
“Remy Osbourne, you get your ass down here right now!”
He cackled, leaning out of the tree he'd deemed his perch, and stuck his tongue out at his younger sister. “You wish, kibble breath!”
Willow laughed softly, and sipped at her tea. She had been forced, sometime in the last eighteen years, since her best friend had gone missing, to realize that her children were going to misbehave no matter what
she did. Taken a leaf out of her husband's parenting book, perhaps.
“They are gonna break their necks,” Faith warned, but she was grinning. “Oh well, least slaying pays good benefits – oh wait, no they don't. G-man, you really ought to get on that.”
He snorted as he set a mug down on the little wooden table on the front porch, where they say. “I'll suggest that to the Watcher's Council.”
“It was like pulling teeth just to get an expense account,” Jessica laughed. “Health care may be beyond our pay grade.”
“Hey, I’m the Slayer. One girl in all the world, yadda yadda,” she pouted. “That should totally merit some perks. Like really good perks. I’m the only
Slayer, you know?”
“We've heard,” Giles smirked. “Perfect day today, is it not?”
“Mm.” Jessica nodded.
“You don't look convinced,” he considered her.
“Seeing all the grandchildren playing just makes me wonder, you know. If Xander has a family of his own, or...”
“Oh yeah,” Faith grinned. “Never got to meet that kid. I really wish Xander was here, too.”
There are certain words that should never be uttered on the Hellmouth.
And those words should never, ever be uttered on a Hellmouth by a Slayer on the day of the new moon when the stars were in the very particular alignment they were in.
(Not that any of that actually
mattered, the fact she'd said the words on the Hellmouth at all did it.)
Those words, by the way, were “I wish.”
There was no flash of light, no blast of sound, nothing except a slight shift in air pressure, then abruptly there was a man standing on the porch with them.
He was tall, dressed in black leather and silver jewelry, with a heavy clock wrapped around him, like he'd been in a cold place before. His long curly hair, greying at the temples, was pulled back into a tight braid, with feathers woven through his hair, and he wore a pair of black goggles that completely obscured his eyes.
“Holy – where'd the Ares cosplayer come from?!” Faith leapt to her feet, tugging a stake out of the back of her jeans. Instinct, really.
He jerked a silver, serrated weapon out of his belt, slashing her wooden stake in half.
“Holy crap,” She blinked, impressed. “Okay, good old fashioned hand to hand combat ass kicking time, then.” Faith swung to kick him, but jerked her leg back when Jessica cried out:
They watched, stunned, as Jessica stepped forward, towards the stranger. “...Xander?”
Willow sucked in a sharp breath. “No way...”
The man grabbed his goggles, shoving them up. Doing so revealed a black eye patch over one of his eyes, and that the other was a dully glowing blue-silver rather than the whiskey brown it used to be. But the face underneath, though much older and worn, was that familiar one they used to see grinning over the box of donuts he would carry into the library every morning.
“Holy Underverse...” Xander breathed.