[Onyx's Note:: I know I'm evil (giggles)...and I want to say again, thank you to Everyone who's been with me on this crazy journey of mine. Oh and yes (to one of my funniest reviewers) you can have one of your very own Controlled Alien! I have to get'em a new harness and leash first...lol. Not sure if I'm gonna get blue or green, you'll have to let me know what color you want. He gets cranky around Pink or Pastel colors just to let you know (winks) lol Alright, enough with my sillyness. I actually JUST WROTE THIS installment...after not writing anything on this story for about...2 years. Ouch, I know. But let me tell ya... WOW. It's a really good one... Fast Paced, Adrenaline Pumping, Nerve-racking Awesome! The beginning Prayer is in Latin called, 'Hail, Holy Queen' fitting, no? And as always...Enjoy!]


Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae. Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae. Ad te Suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle.

[Translated] Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy; our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.


::Outside Perspective::

An infernal engine, roaring out of control. Steam, thick and scolding, blasts and swirls, as blue whips of lightning zap and crackle around the superstructure while columns of incandescent gas thunder hundreds of feet into the air. The drop-ship moves toward the station. It flies through the massive archway in front, the gates of hell itself, entering the belly of the beast. The group within is high strung and filled with a deep sense of adrenaline filled dread. Particularly Ripley. Onyx had sacrificed herself for the life of Newt. Something about all of this just doesn't sit right with her. And there is no way she's just going to sit there and allow Riddick, as big and bad as he seems, to go in there on his own.

"You're not going in there by yourself." Ripley states and pulls down two weapons from a storage rack and ties their barrels together with some cloth. Then, she winds black electrical tape around the stocks, securely fastening them together. Ripley finishes winding tape and drops the roll, her hands clammy and shaking with fear induced adrenalin. She has crudely fastened an M-41A assault rifle, side by side, with a flamethrower unit.

Riddick glares at her while fastening two weapons together in the same fashion. "I admire your protective instinct Ripley, but this ain't the time for heroics."

"And you think going into The Hive on your own isn't?" Hicks adds, standing just behind them as Hudson, Drake, Vasquez and Gorman stay in the background, watching the scene unfold. "Look, we all care about Onyx. Maybe not as much as you do, but we're not going to stand back and watch you get killed."

"Yea man, if you plan on gettin' some alien ass we want to be there, right along with you." Drake chimes in with a smart-ass smirk on his face.

Riddick, surprised at how willing these people are to going back into the very mouth of hell, stands silent for a moment. This is a one man job, he knows that, feels it with his gut. He knows how it should all play out, one person goes in, brings out the damsel in distress and high tails it into orbit. But things have changed… Newt's no longer in harms way, thanks to Onyx. Thanks to her ballsy move, the little girl is safe… Drake, Vasquez, Gorman and Hudson are all still alive…because of her. Riddick knows he saved Hudson's ass, but again…if it weren't for Onyx…

Onyx is the reason for all of this. And with a ghost of smile, Riddick realizes that honestly, it's kinda fun. Not Onyx being kidnapped, but the Rift, The Crew, The Aliens themselves… The whole situation. He's never felt so alive and for the first time in a very long time, people, soldiers, look to him as comrade. Hell of a change compared to the way things were before Onyx came into his life. Ain't it true…women cause so much drama, especially when you love'em. But damn, it's worth it. Riddick chimes inwardly and licks his lips with a thoughtful look on his face.

"Look man, we all go in and get her out of there. We go in as a team." Vasquez states while clutching her M-41A assault rifle close to her chest, as though it's become an extension of herself. "We go in as a Unit."

Drake smirks and slaps Vasquez on the arm, "no one gets left behind baby."

"Fuckin' A!" Hudson announces as Drake and Vasquez share a hive five.

"You serious?" Riddick asks in a careful tone, low and controlled while eyeing everyone around him. "You willin' to go in there and risk your lives for one person?"

And of all people, Hudson huffs, jumps to his feet from where he was just sitting and stands ready. "She ain't just one person, she's a part of the team. Like Vasquez said, it's all or nothin' man."

"Well then, guess that's settled." Riddick smirks and starts packing his gear up, ready to go into the very pit of hell.

"Bishop, what's the status?" Hicks says into his headset when everyone hears the reply.

-Dropship Cockpit-

"Touching down as we speak." Bishop replies into the com and looks around, finding a good place to set the ship down. He sees a narrow landing platform twenty levels above the ground. The drop-ship pivots, hovering in the blasting turbulence, and settles down on the platform with a clang. Lightning arches all around the platform and the ship as the station begins to self-destruct.

"Roger that." Hicks adds as Ripley works rapidly, preparing for what she is planning to do. She slaps a magazine into the rifle. The counter lights up, it reads 95. Hanging the guns over her shoulder, she pulls out a few M-41A grenades from a box.

"Everyone take what you can, we're going to need it." Riddick explains and takes the grenades from Ripley's shaking hands, pulls a few out for himself and hands them off to Hicks to distribute evenly with the rest of the group. "Anything you can carry, do it." He says and pumps his gauge once, readying himself for the battle.

Ripley, in some kind of trance, is stuffing gear quickly into a satchel, her hands flying. She picks up a packet of flares and a bandoleer of grenades, shoving them into the satchel.

Bishop suddenly appears aft from the pilot's compartment. "Ripley…" His voice trails off as he watches as the group gets into combat mode, Ripley the worst; eyes glassy and wide, focused as she goes through her motions, looking like a bat out of hell.

"I don't want to hear about it, Bishop. She's alive. There's still time." She spats while arranging everything on her person, making sure she has everything she needs.

Riddick hearing her words, gives her a quick sideways glance. He's a little surprised at the tone in her voice, the strength boiling inside her. Thought she was just soft on the kid… He thinks and smirks to himself, guess that bond she's got with Onyx is stronger then I thought…interesting.

"In nineteen minutes, this area is going to be a cloud of vapor the size of Nebraska." Bishop explains and watches Ripley turn toward Gorman and Newt.

"Newt, Gorman. Don't let him leave."

Newt nods her head, Gorman doing the same. "We're not going anywhere." He replies and has a look in his eyes…the kind that reveals a hint of hope.

"Let's move people." Hicks exclaims and motions for everyone to start moving.

"I want to make one thing clear…" Riddick growls low in his throat as they reach the doors. "I set the pace, and you better keep up." He pauses and looks to everyone, especially Ripley, "Anyone not ready for this?"

Ripley's eyes narrow as she pulls her guns closer to her body, the group around her sharing the same defiant expression.

Riddick gives a small, impressed grin and chimes "that's what I thought."

The door opens to a side access ramp. Angry wind and machine thunder blast in. The small group runs down the ramp, crossing the platform to the closed doors of a large freight elevator. Everyone standing ready, Ripley hits the open button.

The doors part.

In the background, the female voice of the warning system is heard.

"Attention. Emergency. All personnel must evacuate immediately. You now have fifteen minutes to reach minimum safe distance."

The group enters the elevator. The doors close.

The elevator descends. Ripley and Riddick crouch on the floor as Hicks, Drake, Vasquez and Hudson prepare themselves and begin loading up the grenade launchers on the M-41A's. In a strange chorus of mechanical sounds they simultaneously Cock their weapons. Setting the weapons down, Ripley removes a flare packet from her satchel. Pulling out the six flares, she stuffs them into her pants pockets.

Hudson looks over as the elevator descends. The level counter decreases...fifteen...fourteen...thirteen...

Ripley removes her jacket and dons a battle harness directly over her T-shirt. Her eyes burn with determination that holds the gut-panic in check. She puts the bandoleer of grenades around her chest as well. Hefting the guns up by her side, she stands ready, to the left of Riddick. Ripley closes her eyes and tries to calm herself. This is the most terrifying thing she has ever done. She is soaking in sweat. The voice of the warning system echoes down the tunnel again, calm and mechanical.

"Attention. Emergency. All personnel must evacuate immediately. You now have fourteen minutes to reach minimum safe distance."

"Good to know we'll have a reminder every minute of our impending doom." Drake chimes sarcastically, high tension swirling through the air, damn near suffocating them.

Riddick is a picture of calm, standing silent and ready, goggles covering his focused gaze…his mind on one thing.

Saving Onyx.

Ripley primes the flamethrower. A blue flame emits by its barrel. The lift motor whines, slowing. It hits bottom with a bump. The safety cage retracts. Slowly, expectantly…

The doors part.

The group stands there, swiveling their weapons. Steam clouds swirl all around them as Riddick and Ripley stand at the head of the group.

Ripley moves out of the lift first, knuckles white on the rifle. She looks around. A jet of steam sprays out above, startling her. Before her is a vast network of pipes stretching in every direction. Some glow cherry red from heat build-up. She moves into the tunnel ahead, Riddick close behind her, the group directly behind him while she shoots the flame unit into the open space above her, just for precautionary measures. Continuing forward, she fires again, lighting up the tunnel, and setting a few pillars on fire in the process. Rounding a pillar, Ripley looks back to see the elevator doors close with a bang.

"No turning back now." Hicks says in a flat tone and looks forward, motioning with the barrel of his weapon to move forward. "Let's keep moving."

Ripley looks around and then to Riddick. "Which way?"

He pauses for a moment, searches Onyx's energy with his mind and then nods to their left when a blast of energy goes off causing Ripley to close her eyes for protection. "We go that way. Stay behind me, watch your backs." Riddick replies and moves in that direction, approaching a "Sub-Level 03" stairway. The bottom is obscured in mist. He sprints down the stairs, coming to a landing with an overheated red-hot pipe over it. "Keep your heads down." He calls back to the group while ducking and moves straight on to a two-way junction.

He pauses as the team files in behind him, Ripley already at his heels. Once everyone is together, Riddick stops just outside the entrance to the alien-encrusted tunnel. Just to be on the safe side, he sends a blast of flame scorching ahead of him.

"Here." Ripley states and pulls out a flare, ignites it and throws the stick down. It almost disappears in the encrustation.

Momentum speeds up as the group continues forward as fast as possible, their guns aimed straight ahead at all times, ready for anything. Riddick can hear Ripley's breathing as it becomes fast and hard. Coming to another stairwell junction, Riddick flames straight ahead. He pauses as Ripley moves around the stairs, stopping at a corner to peer around it in terror. Her breathing has become short gasps and her heartbeat races, beating loudly.

Thump-thump, thump-thump

She turns back to Riddick, "now which way?" She asks as her heart continues to thunder wildly in her chest.

Riddick seems to sniff the air, almost tasting it for a certain scent. And just as he hoped, he catches the faint aroma of Onyx lingering within the humidity. "This way." Riddick replies in a deep tone and dashes down the stairs.

At the bottom, he quickly moves around the stairs and begins up another corridor. Onyx's scent seems to increase. Stopping under a flashing yellow KLAXON, Riddick sends a burst of flame out ahead of the group. He moves forward, swiveling to look everywhere. Ripley lights another flare to mark the way back.

Appearing out of a steam cloud, the group comes to a corner. Riddick sniffs the air again, turns his head and heads right. At this point they've started to jog along the corridor until Riddick lets out a growl and breaks into a run…but stops. He can smell her…but where's Onyx? He looks down and finds a piece of her pants, lying in the sticky encrustation.

With his large hand he reaches down and absentmindedly touches the cloth, sensing the fleeting warmth that was once radiating off of her body. Inwardly he feels his beast roar out, a slither of desperation surging through his charged blood. The group is just behind him, as silent as the grave, the sense of all hope beginning to recede…disintegrating into mindless chaos.

"She's down here, I can feel it." He says in a tone that would chill a man's blood as he rises back to his feet, his gaze focused, driven to search out his objective and bring her home.

"We don't have much time man…if we're gonna find her, we gotta do it fast." Drake exclaims in a careful voice, his eyes alert to everything around him.

* * * * *

::Her Perspective::

-Somewhere within the Hive-

Warmth, overwhelming, saturating… I feel like I'm drowning. I try to move, but feel trapped… Helpless and exhausted, I can feel a strange ache continue to pulse through my temples. I just want to sleep, why can't I sleep? No, I can't go to sleep. I need to keep myself aware, alert…for as long as possible. If I don't, I may never wake up.

Wait… I'm not where I'm supposed to be. Something's wrong…I can feel it in my bones. Wait, where's Riddick? I can sense him…just barely, which means he's close…but not close enough.

Oh gods please don't tell me I'm where I think I am…

I don't want to open my eyes as I hear a very distinct hissing sound just twenty feet ahead of me.

Please don't let it be… Not the Hive…

My eyes open against my inner pleas and at first; an eerie pulsing layer of mist obscures my vision. I narrow my eyes, focusing on the dim and tangled shapes in front of me…

My heart jolts against my ribcage.

"Oh god…Riddick…" I hear a woman whispering…and realize…it's me, "where are you?"

::Outside Perspective::

Onyx senses something about to birth itself not far from where she's laying… And without a sound…her beast, trapped within its cage of flesh and bone…

Lets out a terrible cry.

-Catacombs-

Riddick let's out a strangled growl, cringes and doubles over at the sound of an all consuming scream of terror that tears through his mind, blurring every thought, every sensation at the velocity of the sound echoing off the walls of his brain.

"Man, you alright?!" Hicks exclaims, eyes wide at the sight of the huge man collapsing as though he's just been shot.

A low noise emits from Riddick's throat as tears his goggles from his eyes and stands, rising like a titan from the depths of hell; the thick fog swirling against his legs, his mercury silver blue orbs flashing dangerously in the low lighting… He looks to the group and in one word, reveals that the beast has clawed its way to the surface.

"Onyx." The name hangs in the sticky hot air when he suddenly bolts, the group stunned but tight on his heels.

-Somewhere within the Hive-

Onyx watches wide eyed, paralyzed and physically lacking the energy to move…as a small movement ahead catches her attention. A scream trapped in her throat, echoing within the catacombs of her mind as her soul bellows a howl out into the air around her…hoping, praying that someone will hear her…as a face-hugger emerges from a freshly bloomed egg.

Steam rises from the pulsating flesh. Globs of slime oozing in thick streams down its sides as the tips of the face-hugger's finger like legs slowly, rise, pushing itself from its tomb of living flesh. She closes her eyes and tries, in utter desperation, to find her link with the 'controlled aliens'. Her head pounds, the pain sharp and immediate behind her eyes when she finds the link and is unaware of the small warm stream of crimson trailing down her left nostril.

Help me…find me…HELP ME! Her mind bellows, sending a powerful wave of unseen energy to blast out of her body. It flows over every living thing within the space of a football field. Focusing on the energy, she feels an overflowing chorus of cries. The 'controlled aliens' have felt the call and our closing in all around her. But they won't make it in time as the face-hugger seems to stop in its movements, as if the strength of the blast from her mind hit it full force…causing its internal workings to fall under confusion.

Struggling to open her eyes, she witnesses the face-hugger crawling, slowly over the lip of the open egg… She holds her breath and feels her heart skip a beat when it makes a strange mewling sound and leans forward, losing all control of its motor functions and topples to the hive encrusted deck.

Onyx's manages enough strength to sit up on her elbows and sees the face-hugger on its back. Its arthritic looking fingers twitching as its long tail remains splayed around its body.

Unable to do more then breathe and shakily sit up, her eyes snap to her left as a large, dark silhouette begins to emerge from the swirling mist. "Oh god…" She croaks in a strangled whisper at the sight of the Alien…

Its form slowly edging closer, its jaws opening in that terrible, spine chilling grin. Frozen, terror thick and cold through her veins, Onyx is helpless as the living terror stalks toward her, its long cranium bowed, arms beginning to out stretch, its skeletal hands opening, shimmering like obsidian in the low lighting.

-Catacombs-

The group catches up with Riddick as he runs down another dark corridor when he's brought to a sudden stop. Ripley is immediately at his side, her weapon close to her body aimed forward at the sight before her. Hicks, Drake, Vasquez and Hudson are bringing up the rear, weapons also aimed and ready to fire at any moment.

"Oh god." Ripley says under her breath, unable to take her eyes off the dark figure appearing to be cradling something…its back facing them.

"Nobody move and no firing." Riddick growls in a dark timber when the Alien's tail twitches, its massive head craning to the left, its body following the movement when everyone's shocked into silence at the sight of Onyx, held tenderly in the creatures deadly arms.

"One of ours?" Hicks asks in a calm voice, sweat dripping down his forehead.

Riddick clenches his jaws together, "No."

"Fuck man!" Hudson whines under his breath and shifts his weight from one foot to the other. "I don't wanna rain on anybody's parade here, but we ain't got a lotta time."

"Shut up Hudson." Drake barks through clenched teeth while Vasquez elbows Hudson in the side for emphasis.

Riddick takes a step forward and the Alien takes a step back. Ripley, sensing something about this speaks in a clear tone, "It wants us to follow."

A smirk forms on Riddick's lips, "Just noticed that?" He quips sarcastically and receives a glare from Ripley, not all that impressed with his sarcasm. "Let's move." He exclaims in a low voice and starts forward, the Alien leading the way…

-Processor Station-

A huge fireball billows out of the center of the station. The structure tearing itself apart, piece by piece…as it begins to self-destruct.

-Deeper Into The Hive-

The Alien appears to retrace their steps, but stops, recoiling with hiss, shielding Onyx as an explosion on a lower level engulfs the passageway in an enormous, glittering fireball. The Alien retreats, moving through another steam-filled corridor. The group emerge, having kept very close to the Xenomorph and find themselves standing in a Large Chamber obscured in thick shadows and dancing mist.

Riddick watches Ripley's face closely as she steps forward an inch, entering the chamber and stops. The whites of her eyes appear bright and glassy, her breath hitching as her expression changes, molding into spine chilling worry.

With a sudden and resounding horror…the small group realize they're standing in a room full of eggs. Dozens and dozens of pulsating, slime covered eggs…lining the floor everywhere around them. Riddick lets out an inaudible sound, his eyes already locked behind them when the rest of the group hears something and slowly, painfully…turn toward the source.

They watch as a strange tube-like membrane places an egg on the floor with the others. It retracts, dripping slimy, gelatinous ooze from the tube's opening onto the egg.

Silent, the group eyes along an egg-filled abdomen which swells and swells into a great pulsing tubular sac, suspended from a lattice of pipes and conduits by a web-like membrane as if some vast coil of intestine was draped carelessly among the machinery. Monstrous.

Finally, they look up and see it. A massive, looming silhouette in the mist, the Dark Mother glowering over her eggs like a great, glistening arachnid-Buddha. Riddick, though planning on watching this bitch die…can't help what flows softly from his lips, "Beautiful…" As the Queen's deep, heavy breathing echoes around the chamber.

Ripley's eyes flicker in front of her, "Riddick." She says in short and he looks to what she's focused on.

"Oh fuck me." Hicks blurts under his breath, the others peering at the same image, their chests heaving with full bodied panic.

Just a few feet in front of them is Onyx, laid out between two eggs, completely unconscious. And just a few feet away from her, is the Queen in all her sadistic majesty.

Riddick motions with his left hand for them to stay as he begins walking, carefully forward, toward his fallen mate when the Queen's legs, arms and face extends, now visible from beneath its protective shell, her long transparent teeth glistening death as she seems to gaze down at Riddick with an eyeless face.

Her massive jaws open, slime stretching between her lips and teeth as a loud hiss resonates from her chest and echoes through the chamber. Riddick just glares shined eyes at the bitch, knowing that the hiss is really a silent call for the guards.

Three drones step out of the shadows, drenched in mist around the chamber. One is directly behind the group and snarls out a hiss of warning, when Ripley immediately exclaims, "No! Don't shoot!" Her voice still quiet but firm as the group pulls closer together, eyes darting between the three threats, guns ready, hearts pounding with panicked-fury.

Riddick remembers the memories Onyx shared with him on the movie, grips his flamethrower, swivels and fires a burst of scorching flames above the eggs. The Queen screams, ear piercing and chilling, while twisting in her throne. Riddick turns back to the queen and points the flame unit at an egg.

"Fuck with me Bitch, and I'll burn your fucking kingdom to the ground." Riddick growls deep in his chest and stares at her for a response.

The drones freeze as if confused. A nightmare tableau. The Queen isn't stupid and gets the point. She motions and hisses to the left and right with her large crested head. The hiding drones back off into the shadows that hid them. A Mexican standoff between Riddick protecting his mate and the Queen protecting her young. Riddick watches the drones disappear, "Good Girl." he muses and in a swift movement, throws Onyx over his left shoulder so he can hold her and still aim his weapon and begins to back out of the chamber, away from the Queen and toward his comrades.

The Queen watches, boiling with rage, wanting that female for herself…

Riddick carefully moves backward, toward the tunnel he and the others came in from, stepping gently and firmly. He stops in the entrance to the tunnel, the others gathered around him protectively. Ripley scans the room and notices an egg unfold near them.

A look crosses her face akin to 'you fucking bitch' as her head tilts to the side, when she steps forward and with a graceful ease, sweeps her arm, unleashing the full deadly force of her flame thrower, igniting the field of eggs with an insane fury.

The Queen goes berserk, screeching like some psychotic steam whistle. She claws at the air, trying to get at Ripley, but she is too far and is stuck in her throne.

Drake and Vasquez glance at the walls of the chamber and see the three drones coming for them. They are blown off the walls that they cling to by the marine's pulse-fire.

Ripley doesn't stop, she continues firing, now focusing all her rage on the burning eggs. They explode on contact with the bullets. Ripley fires until there is only 12 rounds left in the gun. She stops and pumps the slide on her grenade launcher and Fires.

The grenade punches deep into the Queen's egg sac and explodes, ripping it open from within. Eggs and tons of gelatinous matter spray across the chamber floor. Ripley pumps and fires again and again and again. Four times into the egg sack.

The Queen is crazy with rage.

"Let's Go!" Riddick roars, grabbing Ripley by the shoulder and pulls her toward the retreating group, following them into the exit tunnel. She continues to fire the flame unit into the chamber, igniting eggs. Destroying the very source of evil that's plagued her life…the only thing she can remember…

"Hudson!" Drake hollers while he, Vasquez and Hicks are clearing the tunnel of Alien Killers. Hudson responds immediately and blows away an approaching drone. It drops to the floor.

Grabbing Ripley, Riddick moves around a corner. Unslinging the bandolier of grenades, Ripley primes one, and throws the whole thing as far as she can into the egg chamber. Being dragged away by Riddick, the group dashes into the catacombs and are hurled forward by the shock wave of multiple, teeth chattering explosions.

-Egg Chamber-

The explosions around the Queen have caused her supports to break, dropping her into the flames around her. She lashes out in pain and anger, and pulls herself free from the egg sac, ripping away and dragging torn cartilage and tissue behind her.

-Catacombs - Corridor-

The group runs, blindly, with a panting intensity verging on hysteria. They see one of the flares dropped earlier and turn. "Do not stop! Keep moving!" Riddick hollers ahead of the group, sees another flare, and sprints toward it as the foundations of the world shake.

Rounding a corner, they find the stairs they came down and dash up them. At the top, the entire superstructure rocks as another explosion ignites within the heart of the station. Everyone holds on and then keeps going.

Upon rounding a corner, they see the lift.

"Sweet Jesus nothin' looked so pretty!" Hudson exclaims, his breath hitching.

Drake grins and adds as they sprint toward it, "just like a whore's ass!"

Everyone is gasping for breath, all but Riddick who slips his goggles back on and appears more together then the rest and hits the up button. Nothing. He hits it again and looks up the shaft for the elevator.

Riddick sees the lift slowly coming down the shaft and frowns when a flame billows all around it.

Ripley and Hicks moves to the adjacent lift when Ripley hits the up button. The sound of the lift motors whine as it begins its slow descent as well from several floors up. She is frantic, hitting the buttons over and over again, hoping for some faster action. A sudden, enraged blood curdling screech sounds in the corridor behind them. Ripley turns, eyes wide with terror. She begins hitting the buttons again.

"Aw come on man, come on!" Hudson wails, his voice pitching to the hysteria he's feeling when Drake smacks him upside his helmet getting his attention.

"Chill out!" Drake barks.

Vasquez hits Hudson in the chest, "cool it!"

Riddick's entire body goes tense when he senses something…like whispers in his mind. I'm weak but alive… He hears Onyx in his head, she's coming…they're coming… And her voice cuts out.

Ripley's voice catches his attention but he doesn't move. "Come on! God damn it!" Ripley yells and slams an open palm against the button as if it'll make the lift get there faster.

"Gettin' close." Hicks announces and wipes the sweat from his brow, his heart pounding furiously in his head.

"Tell us somethin' we don't know." Drake chimes and can almost feel his adrenaline pumping through his veins when another screech pierces the air. Closer this time.

The lift is almost there…the group turn to see its ascent when Riddick's eyes are focused behind them and just under his breath growls out, "Fuck." just as the silhouette of the Queen rounds a corner and slowly makes her way up the corridor.

The Queen sees them and hisses. The group looks back to see the lift stop and open for them.

"Inside Now!!" Riddick hollers as Hicks ushers everyone inside. They race into it as Hudson jams the up button.

The Queen quickly moves her way up the misty corridor, screeching at the top of her lungs.

Riddick drops Onyx gently behind him and readies his weapons to fire. The lift cage slides closed just in time as the Queen comes up to it. Riddick and Ripley fire their flame throwers through the cage. The Queen screeches and reels back. Ripley continues firing until the unit runs dry, but Riddick pauses, knowing he's going to need it for later.

The Queen notices this, but the lift doors close too quickly for an attack.

The elevator starts upward quickly. Riddick picks Onyx up off the floor and cradles her limp form in his arms as the group hug the back wall, terrified and exhausted. A large explosion nearby rocks the lift. Some debris falls on its roof with a bang as a huge fireball slightly engulfs the lift, causing everyone inside to cringe at the impact.

-Corridor-

The second lift reaches bottom, the doors rolling open for anyone. The Queen looks over, her massive head tilting to the side when her jaws close, her lips curling in a look of what could only be described as pleasant surprise.

-Elevator - Platform-

The ride up is not comforting as explosions constantly shake the tiny lift and its occupants. The mechanical voice of the warning system is heard again. It is much shorter now.

"You now have two minutes to reach minimum safe distance."

Ripley is next to Riddick, peering over Onyx's still form. She can tell by the dark expression on Riddick's face that something is very wrong.

"She gonna be alright?" Drake sounds behind them when Hicks looks over Onyx and sees Riddick's face.

"Unknown, we gotta get her to med lab." Hicks replies when The lift reaches the top and the group hustles out onto the platform.

Everyone looks around through wind-whipped streamers of smoke and sees...nothing.

Hudson exclaims. "What the fuck!!"

The Ship Is Gone.

Ripley's jaw drops, "No…" her voice embodying the horror she feels.

The platform is completely empty. Ripley looks up and shouts an outrage at the final betrayal. "Bishop! God damn you!" She howls into the chaotic air and slumps over in defeat, breathing heavy.

"Wait…" Riddick announces over the wind and notices the wild look in Hudson's eyes. "Might not've been stable enough. He'll be back." He finishes and sees the look on everyone's faces.

"Hey…" Drake announces getting everyone's attention as a sound whines behind them. "Think we got company."

The group, without Riddick, move over to the adjacent lift cage and look down.

"Shit." Hicks exclaims as he witnesses the second lift slowly coming up. Clouds of fire exploding all around it. "Get ready!" He barks out as they back away from the lift, Ripley standing close to Riddick who continues holding Onyx close to his body.

Hicks, Drake, Vasquez and Hudson back away from the doors. Ripley, standing near Riddick checks her gun. The counter reads empty. Ripley drops the weapons.

She follows Riddick's lead as he backs up toward the railing. There is no place to run.

Multiple explosions detonate in the complex far below and all around. Huge fireballs well upward through the machinery. The platform bucks wildly. Nearby, a cooling tower collapses with a thunderous roar and the shriek of rending steel. Chaos and destruction totally surround them, offering no reprieve.

The lift stops. The group stare transfixed as the safety cage opens. Flashes from the explosion give a glimpse of the apparition within. Then, slowly…it moves into full view.

The Queen…

…has arrived.

-End Chapter Forty-Four-