A.N.: This is a story I originally started more than three years ago now under the penname PrivateAsylum, but I never got past writing the Prelude, despite my endless plot notes. Through all the insanity of the past three years, I kept those notes and notebooks, some part of me unwilling to throw them away. And now, I can tell only God why, suddenly the need to write this story has gripped me again.

For better or for worse, I think that some of the things I've been through the past few years allows me to understand the characters well, especially Riddick and Kyra. So I'm not going to hold back from getting inside their heads. This will be a heavily psychology and motivation driven story. But there's always the possibility that I've got it totally wrong, so feel free to take a blow torch to me if you think I'm way off.

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. I will own up to what I do with them.

CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK:

PROPHECIES OF THE ASCENDANT

PRELUDE

From the undecrypted journals of Argus, the Seer:

It is clear to me that not one of us moves without reason. Not one of us exists without purpose and destiny. Every movement, every breath is essential to the operation of a carefully choreographed and evolving machine, so that the enemy we fear is as vital as the leader we love, and the saved as inomissable and powerful as the savior.

But what of freewill? If we move in fate, and yet have no knowledge, is it still choice? Could the subject have been king, and the king have been ruled, so long as each part were played? And what becomes of love, and of courage? For without free will there is neither, and the mortal's strive to evolve, the very quintessence of humanity, is reduced to illusion. But what purpose, what destiny, lies in illusion?

It is the conundrum which haunts me, and which quickly becomes his shadow.

The hall smelled of blood and tasted of death, acrid and cloying, and a heavy, final silence thickened the air and pushed against the confining stone walls. The Necromonger court stood in stunned quiescence, paralyzed at the sight of their Lord, the base of the broken blade protruding from his skull glinting in the light.

But Riddick saw none of this now.

His eyes locked with Kyra's where she lay beside the throne, and an alien desperation rose within him. He rushed to her side on legs searing and spent, not shifting his sight even as Vaako and Scales step forward, or noticing that they only stood above the body of their Lord and made no attempt to stop him, but passed them blindly. They could not have been able to stop him had they tried.

Desperation turned to desolation as he reached her and sank to his knees. He reached out and hesitated, his hand hovering a moment above her: blood was spreading across her back and beneath her.

Gently he turned her over and lifted her in his arms. She closed her eyes, wincing with a suffering she was not supposed to be able feel, and reached for him, her fingers finding his elbow and arm and frailly gripping him. Pained relief flooded her face, and she took a weak breath, struggling against the blood slowly filling her lungs.

"I thought you were dead," she murmured.

Anguish twisted his features. "Are you with me, Kyra?" But he already knew the answer. She was slipping from him, and he was powerless to save her now.

The defeat in his voice ripped through her, and with effort she opened her eyes to meet his gaze. The expression she saw there, the deep grief she could not have conceived him capable of five years ago, shattered all remnants of the long anger and bitterness she had held for him, and she found herself looking up no longer at a convict, her hero, her abandoner, cold and impenetrable, but a stranger, and a man unwilling to let her go. "I was always with you," she breathed, her eyes, shining with tears unshed, begging him with all her remaining strength to hear her, to understand. "I was."

And for a moment he knew, and tried to nod, wanted to speak, but couldn't, too afraid that with that final comfort she would let go. She held his gaze a moment longer, and he saw her eyes lose focus as her gaze drifted away from him. She tried to take one last inhalation, but her body failed her, and he felt her fall still in his hands, her fingers graze his skin, their touch disappear as her hands fell, and her face turned away from him.

He laid her gently down on the cold stone and covered his eyes, unable to look away, trying to breathe against the burning grief that clutched at his throat. He rose and staggered, groping blindly for something to steady him. His hand found the arm of the throne, and he sank down absently onto the edge of the seat and crumpled back into it.

The pulsing rhythm of footsteps pulled vaguely at his senses, drawing him back to his surroundings as the Necromongers closed in, heavy and slow, the sound of approaching death. In a moment, he knew, there would be a cry of rage from within the crowd, and they would rush upon him, weapons raised, and crash over him in a wave of revenge. But he sat unmoving, grief passing away into a strange relief he never would have expected of himself that this time there was nowhere to run, that, finally, it would truly be over.

But the expected onslaught did not come. The footsteps paused, and Riddick with disjointed confusion looked up as one by one, and then together, the Necromongers began to kneel, before him and on the balconies above.

Commander Vaako spoke in a voice darkly, "You keep what you kill."

Riddick, seated on the throne, found himself suddenly the ruler of a powerful army. But he looked out across the assembled as though he had discovered a new Hell, numb and cold, the only thing he had wanted already lost to him, lying dead at his feet.