Part Three of the Seer series. It's been five years for the characters, and this chapter includes a brief recap on what Eileen, Riddick, and Jackie know. Foreshadowings of the future abound in this installment, as Eileen gains more control of her abilities. As I've said before, I've transplanted some rather large chunks of the original version. It's not mine, y'all. I'm just playing with them and practicing for the real deal.
A Chronicles of Riddick Alternate Universe
"They are an army," said a voice in my ear, its accent similar to Paris Ogilvie's, but feminine in tone, "unlike any other, crusading across the stars toward a place called Underverse, their promised land, a constellation of dark, new worlds."
Blue-white light flared from within a metal enclosure, and I found my viewpoint move back and away from the light, until I could see what held it. Three gigantic graven faces stared in their own directions, and then, suddenly, the faces began to make a groaning noise, like stone against stone. Once they stopped, a pulsing, blue-white ball—there were shadowy patches on it as well—shot straight up to hover probably at least a kilometer into the air.
"Necromongers, they're called," the voice continued as I got further from the terrible power in that blue-white ball. Ships hovered in a circle around the thing, their engines seeming to draw in shadows, rather than giving off any sort of exhaust. They hung in midair, over a half-ruined city, thunder rumbling as the orb spun gently on its axis. Then the view turned. "And if they cannot convert you, they will kill you. Leading them, the Lord Marshal." Another set of three faces entered my field of vision, but this time one of them had real eyes; it was a man in armor, the shoulder-plates covered with tortured faces, seeming to scream in silence. "He alone has made a pilgrimage to the gates of the Underverse and returned a different being, stronger, stranger; half alive and half… something else." A small cast form rose from a panel, its arms twisted painfully around a handle, and a ghostly gauntlet reached out to grip it, followed by the actual hand itself. The handle was pushed back down.
My view returned suddenly to the ball of light, which whirled, turning itself into a ring of light, black particles being spewed away. Then the light dropped like a stone as my viewpoint sped backwards. A mushroom-shaped cloud arose, accompanied by a dull boom and disintegrating buildings.
"If we are to survive, a new balance must be found." I kept retreating, at ever-increasing speeds, as the ground itself was seared away, the crust of the planet cracking and splitting. I might have been in orbit, then, watching dozens more of these destructive explosions blanket the planet in death.
"In normal times, evil would be fought by good, but in times like these, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil." My mate's face replaced the dying world, his silver eyes shining. 'Big Evil,' they called him. My Big Evil.
I jerked slightly as I woke, horrified by what I had just seen. World-killers, changing or destroying every living thing they came across, and Riddick was the 'Verse's best hope against them? My man was certainly not into 'fighting the good fight.'
I could feel him curled against my back, one arm holding me close as he took deep, even breaths. Only with me did he sleep this deeply, as though the fact that we were both present were enough to keep away all threats. Heat radiated into me; sleeping with him was like having a furnace wrapped around my body. Comfortable, I closed my eyes again.
A pink-red sky greeted me, familiar hills covered in gravestones all around. She stood next to me, gazing into the distance.
"You have settled your past," she said, breaking the silence. She was the only one who ever spoke in these dreams, making it seem as though I couldn't speak. "But he has not. It is up to you to guide him until he does. You… you must choose your future. Our dead cry out for vengeance." Then she faced me, pale green eyes boring into mine as she splayed her right hand over her heart. "It is time that you wore the mark." She then extended the hand toward me, stopping just before she touched my breast. "This is going to hurt." Then her hand moved that last centimeter.
This time, my waking was accompanied by the agony of all my muscles seizing at once. I barely managed to clamp my lips shut over a scream, not wanting to disturb Jackie. 'Hurt? What an understatement!' I thought. Strong arms clamped down around me, pinning my arms to my sides as I shook.
"What the hell?" Riddick's words seemed to trigger the end of my convulsions, and I went limp in his embrace. "What the fuck was that?"
"Not sure," I wheezed. Then I looked down and saw the glowing handprint, right where the woman—the Furyan, I supposed—had put her hand. "Shit. Freak-o-meter is off the scales," I grumbled. The escaped convict looked over my shoulder.
"You're fuckin' tellin' me? What happened?"
"I don't know!" I replied, getting a little panicked. "Another dream with her, and she put her goddamned hand right there, and it hurts like fuck!" The eerie bluish light faded, as did the pain.
"I am not likin' that bitch, whoever she is," he snarled. I began to relax again, but I sure as hell wasn't going back to sleep.
It had been five years since I met him: Richard B. Riddick, escaped convict, murderer—Furyan, maybe, whatever the hell that meant, and my mate, my perfect complement. We don't match at all, not really. He's tall, and ripped, where I'm petite and lean, toned. Where he has weakness, I am strong, and vice versa. In a fight, we move like one being in two bodies, perfectly coordinated. It's strange, I'll admit, but it works like no partnership I've ever seen. Maybe it's a Furyan thing, if that's what we are—I wouldn't know, not having seen one that was really alive, let alone a pair connected like we are.
For most of those five years, we've been drifting around the 'Verse, moving wherever the cargoes we haul take us, just the three of us in our ship. Me, Riddick, and Jackie. Jacquelyn Braith, to be more exact, a former runaway. She'd been twelve when the Hunter-Gratzner crashed on a desert planet, leaving us as three of the thirteen survivors, complete strangers to each other. We'd lost only one getting off that planet, and I doubted that anyone had ever really missed Johns. He was scum, anyway, and I killed his brother about a week later. Yeah, see my tears of mourning… not.
His brother had been one of the mercs we'd survived after that, and they just kept coming, no matter how many times I falsified reports of Riddick's 'death.' It had gotten to the point where we typically used different names for each job, just to muddy our trail and stay ahead of the bounties. The only person who could contact us directly was Jamie Cartwright, a man who had been like an older brother to me when I was little. Technically speaking, he was also my boss; just because we were always on the move, it didn't mean I couldn't continue to analyze crime scene reports and psychological profiles.
From time to time, Jamie got messages from the other survivors and passed them on to us. We hadn't heard from Carolyn Fry, the H-G's pilot, at all, but that was all right. She'd nearly gotten me and Riddick turned into a pair of living statues, anyway. Paris Ogilvie occasionally pointed us in the direction of profitable contracts, people who needed a small shipment taken somewhere quickly. Shazza and Zeke, when they had access to communications—which wasn't often, as they were prospectors—were amusing, thanks mostly to her crazy relationship with her trillionaire father. Sean O'Connell would send us data on weird space phenomena, helping us avoid things like the rogue comet that had trashed the Hunter-Gratzner. But most of our mail came from Abu al-Walid, affectionately called 'Imam' by all three of us; he kept us up-to-date on his family, as well as Suleiman, Hassan, and Ali, who had been traveling with him to New Mecca.
I especially enjoyed my infrequent opportunities to talk to my 'niece,' Jamie's four-year-old daughter Alexa. To borrow one of Riddick's phrases, she was a 'cute kid.'
Sick of lying in bed awake while my mate got up and showered, I put on my robe and went to the galley and started a pot of coffee. The smell was guaranteed to bring Jackie out of her cabin at approximately the same time as breakfast was ready.
This morning, breakfast got put on hold when the comm went nuts.