A/N: Dear all, thank you for being with me for the seemingly unending journey that has been writing this fic. Alas, all good things – and I hope this wasn't so atrocious – must come to an end. So I give to you the final chapter of Don't you want to try to die. Some things are answered and some are not. But I am planning a collection of oneshots that will hopefully deal with any loose ends. In this chapter will see characters I had introduced somewhere at the beginning. Their story is now complete. But it also features new names that will come up in future projects. I truly hope some of you are still interested:) I would like to thank my faithful readers, some of whom have been with me from the start (HopeK, Maria, Ellie, hobitizk), and all who reviewed and/or added this story to their fav list. You guys kept me going! And don't worry, I'll keep spreading the Riddick/Fry love!
So without further ado, here is chapter 34 in Jack's POV! As always, enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: Not mine!
They say my new life began on the 27th day of the month of the Burning Skies, in the year the great Wraith Ship, Kumary, of Deep Space, entered Furya's misshapen orbit. Once a green and flourishing planet, the lazily revolving giant looked now more like the pock-marked ass end of a backwater galaxy. Of course, my description didn't quite make it in the history books. A lot of the things that happened after we reached Furya got a radical makeover. Everybody likes to remember something pretty about that time, and the toxic wasteland, the fumes and the destruction visible everywhere you looked didn't do much to help with those wishes. At that time, all I could think about was what Riddick told me about wishing and things coming true. He was right. In the wrong way.
After we left the Predator Mothership, the joint bodies of the Kumary and the Furyan Colonial plotted course towards home. Whose home, no one was sure of, but we went there nonetheless. We didn't pick a ghost lane this time, although we kept a low profile. Even among the devastated planets of Sol Space, we moved as quiet as little mice. There was a great reverent silence descended upon our little corner of the 'verse that we dared not disturb. Carolyn was on edge and wanting none of it – cruising so close to Helion Prime - but there was no way bending Riddick's agenda. He lived by a code which was hard to understand and easy to misjudge, but Fry seemed to get the gist of it when he showed up one day with a squirrel of a girl and her dark skinned mother tagging sheepishly along, wearing nothing but tattered rags.
Of the woman I had a vague recollection and the girl was not an unfamiliar notion. They brought a dull pain in my chest that was hard to understand, but they all but knocked Fry off her feet. She looked small and lost, sitting on the deck of her own ship, staring at the newcomers with crisp blue eyes. She ghosted off then and I could tell by the crinkling of the cloak that those eyes had turned watery. Laijjun and Ziza were housed on the Colonial and it took awhile before the Captain mustered the courage to go see them. She sobbed so loud that night, not even the noise of the running shower could cover it up. I thought Riddick would do something about it, but he stayed away. It was Gwen, tall and ever patient, that picked Fry up, all wet and broken, and got her to bed. The door to her quarters was left open, either because Gwen made it so, or because Fry was too out of it to care, I don't know, but I lay there, propped against the chilly wall of the corridor, straining to hear her breathing. I wanted to comfort her, to say to her I heard you, Fry, I heard you first, and apologize for not hearing her sooner, for not trying to understand what she had done and what it had done to her and what that meant for us, the people who flew off that planet. I wanted to and yet I didn't, for fear that I wouldn't know how to do it properly.
"Go to her", Gwen said majestically.
I remember raising my knees to my chin and feeling the rough spun of the flight suit with my lips. I thought: She's always been like this, rough and tough and ready to play in the big boy's league, Captain thanks-for-saving-our-dicks Fry.
Except she wasn't. When you peeled of the suit and broke through her skin, the way Riddick did, she was just as insecure and frightened as the rest of the women of the human species. Which kinda pissed me off.
"He should go to her!"
"Right now that might not be the best course of action." I also heard what the tall woman didn't say…he's licking his wounds in his own way.
Later that night – when everything aboard the Kumary had settled into a dreamy haze – I tip-toed into the Captain's quarters and I squatted down, next to her bunk. I wiped the hair out of her eyes, marveling at how soft and curly it had become and stared long and hard at the mark on her forehead, a strange looking symbol etched into her flesh for as long as she lived, even more powerful than the scars on her back, that no one really got to see. I patted her head awkwardly, timidly, afraid that if I did it too hard she might break. Her blue eyes were huge on her small face, the only parts of her still clean and clear of any scars. She smiled at me and it transformed her entire body.
"It's alright, sweetheart, I'm not angry with you."
She looked…radiant. Fry of the thousand suns.
"I didn't mean to scare you. I'm sorry you had to see me like this. It's okay, everything's gonna be okay…"
To whom she was saying that, I'm not sure to this day, but she held my hand tight and got up and she never lay down again without being Fry, the captain of the ship. From that moment on, until the day the light inside her dimmed down, she lived her life for everybody else and never faltered. Selfishly, for a long time, I thought that she failed as a human being, as an individual, but who am I to talk? She had what no one else had managed to keep for very long and somewhere, in the back of my mind, when I let it, it hurt like nothing else ever could. It was the only pain I was to know in my new life, the only speck of darkness that would be there in every happy, bright moment of my existence: to know and see and feel that she would forever have Riddick's untamable interest. To the very end and beyond, he never let got. He held on to her in ways I never thought possible. Riddick was a man who had lived his life for himself. And it was the same self-centered nature that had doomed us all the one that kept Carolyn close and bound to him, in an almost sadistic manner. He took it all from her, all for him and only for him.
But what do I know? I watched it all unfold through tainted glasses from the start. They lived long, and Carolyn longer than she should. I don't pretend to understand what really happened between them and to this day, many, many years after the planet and the eclipse, Riddick has never told me the truth: why did he have us trapped in that cave, why did he come back, what did Carolyn do and why did she save his life? I wanted to know, but like with so many other things, I learned to live without it. Riddick's spirit would never have settled in a place where there was no Fry. And people with unsettled spirits do not live a happy life. Or they do not live at all. He did not die young, Riddick the man. The legend yet breaths. So I guess I should be grateful for that, the great miracle of Fry and her gift of life. And I really, really am.
The people that Fry brought with her – following the Kumary from the deepest corners of the 'verse – also played a big part in the making of our future. Lya and Garreth never left her side and settled on Furya permanently. But they were Wraiths too, so they still did the occasional rounds through Deep Space. Sometimes, Carolyn tagged along. And every time she came back, so would an odd looking ship, with DS dwellers coming to stay on Furya. Life was not great for them outside of the space ports. Some Furyans did not appreciate the company of strangers, of outworlders.
And that was a long battle Riddick fought, one that wore him down more than anything I've ever seen. Maybe because it was the first he didn't fight for himself, but for Carolyn and all the good, honestly self-interested folk that cleaned up the planet, helped expand the ports, who brought commerce and welfare back on ragged old Furya and built a home for themselves faster than the jaded locals. For the doc, Shalimar, who saved so many lives and, more importantly, who brought so many lives into this new world. For Gwendolen the Necromonger, whose faith and loyalty to Riddick and his was never questioned. For Horner the Smuggler, for Tommy the Builder and his red-head Fox of a wife, for Detlev the Voice of the Port, for Ronnie and Rommie and the whole lot of them, Riddick did what he did best. A lot of blood and tears were spilled in that fight, but it's not my place to recount it now. It was the end to Furya's darkest tragedy. It's their story, one Riddick wanted no part in. After all, he was the child that lived. I've always thought that was why he tried so hard to put and end to the true crime that happened on Furya. So everybody could live free of its burden. Life is for the living and all that.
The living, those who remained, turned out to be good people in their own right. Some less then others, but that's the way of every world. Most of them settled next to the water – a clear green inner sea that we managed to swipe up early in our terraforming days – and build tall, slim cities with watch-towers soaring high to the skies. They liked the altitude. With the tech DS dwellers managed to smuggle from wherever they came from and the bits and pieces the Colonials had managed to salvage during the years of wandering through space in search of other survivors like them, the independent cities of Furya 2.0 – as some had fondly started to call it – began to grow steadily in power and wealth. It took many years at first, years that we thought would never end, a long, long time when we scraped what we could to make a living in iso-tents and pieced-up bedsits. There were years when the heat was so unbearable, we lived by night and slept through the day in shanty caves, where the humidity sped up a raging bout of epidemics. Many little ones, newborns conceived on the Furyan Colonial, were lost during that time. And the ones that did survive had a hard time coming out of the shadows. Even the mildest ray of sun would turn their skins ashen and their naturally shined eyes kept them bound to the shade. I was Shali that changed that. The good Muslim doctor showed up at our doorstep one day in a run-down skiff of all things, with Gus Horner and Ronnie and a healthy dose of medical supplies. The smuggler even brought back a portable rec-station, spiffy new and state-of-the-art.
"And here I thought you'd be a bar rat all your life", Carolyn said to the broad shouldered man with a thick mop of brown hair and twinkly grayish eyes.
"Well, you know, the Creed's no deed if Captain isn't there!"
Gustav 'Gus' Horner opened a new Creed and made lots of credits off other people's greed. But he didn't make it pass the third winter we had on Furya. It wasn't the cold though, it was the ice that did him. Tripped, fell and broke his neck. People always made fun of that and said we has legless that night. I say he was a stinking drunk who had no business walking alone at night in the dead of winter. Ronnie agrees.
Against all odds, Veronica 'Ronnie' of the thousand names, sister to the Captain of the Wraith Ship Trinian – and next in line to be the ruler of her people if anyone ever manages to ghost Lou'An – didn't turn up so bad and, even more surprisingly, she didn't get fed to a pack of wargs by her ever threatening brother. Instead, she took over the 'counter' and to this day she still runs the Creed and all of Horner's covert operations. Soon after Gus passed away, Lou'An dropped by – as was his custom and if it weren't for Lya, I'd say he did it solely to annoy Riddick – and plopped a 10 year old girl in Shalimar's dismayed arms and said he's entrusting his baby sister to her. Romm was a quiet child, dark haired and green eyed like her brother. She even had the same aura about her, strong and calm and menacing. Ronnie kept a polite and somewhat frightened distance and let Shali and Lya and Gwen cater to the strange little girl. It was over a glass of schnapps that Ronnie confessed Lou'An had run into trouble back on his home planet after their father died and power factions began to fight for the position of Governor of one of the most powerful settlements in Deep Space. By bringing his sisters to Furya – an unknown planet at the edge of the universe – he was keeping his line of succession safe, as he had no sons of his own.
Rommie – as she was affectionately known by very few people – didn't stay with us for very long. However, time runs slowly on Furya and when Lou'An came back – a little worse for wear and sporting a scar that ran down the left side of his face – the little Romm was a blooming teenager, almost a young adult. And a fearsome one at that, as even Riddick seemed to be uncharacteristically wary of her. She was like no other cute little girl he had ever encountered. But for all the bad in her, she had more good in her tiny frame than most truly good people I knew. Veronica gave up her position as next in line and was superseded by Romm and Lou'An, who got to keep his captaincy and seat in the Wraith ranks instead. Ronnie never left Furya and people are still having a hard time killing Romm off, which makes Lou'An infinitely happy and a permanent guest in the Creed's hotel and services and in the D'jai's bed. His homeworld is one of the select few planet Furya has standing relations with.
Of the other Wraith Captain we know nothing much. The Leander has never crossed our space borders and even when we heard rumours of its presence 'verse side, there wasn't anything of relevance to us, so Carolyn decided to let it be. I don't know if she kept any kind of contact with him. She didn't share much of her Hunter life with us. But it was there, nonetheless. She and Riddick and a couple of others – namely Joe and the twins, Gracie and Dawn – disappeared a few times and whether they were still on Furya or some place else, we'll – I'll – never know. Gwen would always get irritated if I asked where they were.
"Be happy when they come back. Honour their return and say nothing else!" she'd say. She never doubted they would come back and I guess that was good enough for me.
The nights Gwen would go all stiff and quiet were bright mooned ones that came regularly for a while. Those were the nights I hated the most. Because I'd be a little girl again, all alone and wallowing in ignorance. Those were the nights the little bits of Kira in me howled louder than before. But I was never to know the smooth weight of a shiv in combat again. I still kept one close though. It is as clean now as it was the day I snatched from Carolyn's toy box – a battered old container of weapons, most of them leftovers and unfinished projects of Riddick's years of isolation. I keep it as a reminder of my personal sacrifices and unfulfilled desires. I keep it safe, I keep it hidden, because its cold blade may have never tasted blood, but it still packs a poisonous bite. I promised myself I wouldn't let regrets and childish fantasies run my life again, but they lingered nevertheless in the back of my mind. We all have some skeletons in the closet and not even the chance of a clean slate can totally wipe that away. There were people in my life though who deserved better from me and I lived by that belief: that whatever happens, all my debts will have been paid and that no matter what, I would not let those who have placed their hopes of love and dreams of a better life in me be disappointed. I would not fail. I'd like to think I didn't. I saw the children of Furya bloom like flowers over ever green pastures. I saw them grow strong and bear the legacy of the small crew on the Kumary and the Furyan Colonial with pride, even when most of them whom I knew passed away with a smile after a lifetime of hardships. I saw that after all the darkness and sadness, still came happiness. And even though I was thrust in this new world without much to cling on, I found my way and walked the straight and narrow until my heart bled.
The final destination, my own personal end journey is not unlike the beginning. I am as alone now in a spotless white med-room as I was when I started this, on a shabby space port, all cramped up in a cryo-tube in the cargo bay of the Hunter-Gratzner all those years ago. But they say it's not the destination that matters, it's the journey. And they might be right for a change. And boy, was it a long journey! These days I wish it would come to its end, so I may slip into the transient reveries of the dead. Tiredness has crept into my world and the suns will set for the last time. Will there be monsters in the dark, waiting for me? I know not. I do know that I'm done running. If there be monsters, let them be quick. I want to die. Let my soul rest and find peace. Don't step up if you can't keep up, Riddick once said. I wasn't really fit for the chase then and I'm tired now. Unsettled spirits lead unsettled lives, but at least I made mine shine with a sliver of happiness. I used to wish for a place where I could start over and I had my wish come true. But it wasn't the place that was faulty the first time round. You carry yourself wherever you go. And that's the difficult part, believe me.
Thus, my story comes to an end. I realize that there are many things I haven't told, either because they are too painful for me to talk about or because it's not my place to tell. Forgive me. I'm not a writer of Chronicles and there are some things I'd like to keep to myself. There are other things I simply do not know or do not remember anymore.
I am old.
I've lived long and I've lived good.
I've never been truly alone.
I've had a good, strong man by my side who has made my days infinitely brighter.
I was with Riddick…
To the very end.