"I Admire That in a Woman"

"I Admire That in a Woman"

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the PB/CoR characters

Author's Note: This is not meant to be anything more than simply a fun look into a possible future, and I do not intend to explain anything that isn't already; some things aren't meant to be analyzed--ask Mark Twain. However, if you are legitimately confused about something, feel free to ask.

My God, she's magnificent.

His silvery cobalt eyes were trained on a young blond woman in the ring below. She was shorter and thicker than most of the other women in the Necropolis, and most considered her "unfortunate looking." But still she commanded attention and incited praise wherever she went. Everyone knew who she was, and she was undoubtedly the strongest woman among the Necromongers. Only eighteen, yet she ruled a battalion of soldiers on the battlefield. What was more, she reminded him of a young woman he knew a lifetime ago.

Four men, all easily twice her size, circled her. She was armed with nothing but a pair of knives that she wielded in a backhanded grip. Boots crunched in the sand that lined the floor. From behind her, she heard a feint SWISH. Pivoting sharply on the toe of her right foot, she swung her left hand at the man. Pulling his chest back out of the way, he compromised his balance. A step forward, and her hands came together, pushing at his chest with her fists. He struggled for breath as he fell flat against the ground with a THWACK. But she wasn't paying attention; she was already defending against the next attacker.

Her knives dropped to ground, and she grabbed for the fist that he threw at her. Both her hands firmly grasped his forearm and pulled it toward her. The right stayed where it was, but the left released the arm to fix itself behind his head, shoving it toward her knee. The blood had barely started to flow from his nose as she stepped on his thigh and vaulted into the air. Using his shoulders to control her flight, her right boot found its way to the third man's ear. As he hit the ground, she landed in a crouching position on his chest. A quick flick of her wrist pulled an extra knife from its hiding spot against the shaft of her boot, beneath her pant leg, and she sent it sailing at her last opponent. It found a home in the breastplate he wore, signifying that had this been anything but a practice match, she would now own any weapons or armor he had on his person.

She stepped back down onto the ground and turned to look up at him. From his throne, Richard B. Riddick, leader of the Necromongers, slowly applauded the girl. One side of his mouth curled up in a sly smile that told her he was pleased with her performance. Then he nodded, turned and left the room. A tall, tired-looking man stepped into the ring and offered her a drink of water, kissing the top of her head. "You know, it wouldn't kill you to take your time once in a while."

"What fun would that be, Uncle Vaako?" she responded with a half smile that echoed Riddick's.

"The fun is in making your victims suffer more, simply because you can, Kyran." He took the bottle back from her. "Also, your knife-work could use some attention; your namesake would be appalled."

"It went straight into his heart," she argued.

"Yes, but it should have gone into his throat." He started to walk away as she stood in innocent disbelief.

"But it was just practice."

"What's your point?" With his back still turned he called, "He'll want to see you."

"Get a better hairdo!" she childishly yelled after him.

She stopped in her own room quickly to fix the ponytail that had been messed up in the fight and to wipe off her face. As she pulled the damp cloth from her forehead to her chin, she sighed and looked at herself squarely in the mirror. She wasn't ugly, but she wasn't exactly anyone's fantasy either. She was the girl one settled for when his dream girl turned him down. Her deep blue eyes met her reflection's. With a silent command from her brain, her pupils widened, covering up her irises. When they were that wide, they had a silver tint, making her eyes look like they'd been glossed over, almost like she was blind. Wincing, she held them as long as she could, but soon had to allow them to shrink again. In this light, expanding her pupils was excruciating. Her eyes watered slightly, but she wiped them dry and headed back out to the hallway, glancing briefly at the portrait of a young, dirty-blond woman with Kyran's same dark blue eyes that sat on her nightstand. Though a woman had never actually raised her, this was the one she considered to be her mother. It was the one her father still pined for.

A few people passed her on her way; all dipped their chins respectfully. She returned the gestures as she passed them until she approached one dark skinned woman. She wore a gray dress that looked like it might have been painted onto her body. Dark lines ran vertically between her shoulders and the floor, emaciating her already thin frame. This woman didn't lower her chin; she raised it instead. She passed a look of deep disdain to the younger woman as they neared each other. "Why do you insist on walking around looking like you came from a garbage bin?"

"What's the matter, Dame Vaako? Are you upset that you're so old now that your husband has decided he no longer wants you? Or that Riddick chose to bed another woman--a Furyan woman?"

"I'm simply confused as to why your impure blood is allowed to walk the halls of our great city."

"Last I checked the Furyans were in charge again . . . that would make you the imposter here."

"Furyan scum tainting the Necropolis," the woman sneered at her. "It's bad enough we no longer convert in the quantities we once did, but now we pick up refugees?"

"Don't forget, dear Aunt, you all began as something else."

Kyran continued on her way. Reaching the large door at the end of the hall, she lifted the knocker and rapped three times. "Come," answered the voice inside. She pushed at the handle and despite its seeming bulk, the door swung open easily. Closing it behind her left the room nearly pitch black. She widened her pupils without pain this time, and began walking toward the table where Riddick sat with a chessboard.

"When can we kill her?"

"Patience, Little One," Riddick answered coolly, smiling like before. Even through the purple tint of the UV light her pupils now detected, his eyes looked tired and his face careworn. He was starting to show his age. She sighed and walked toward him. They greeted each other with a simultaneous kiss on the cheek, and she took the seat across from him. "It's your move."

Studying the board for a few seconds, she selected her knight and moved it in an "L" shape forward to capture his rook. "Vaako said my throwing needs work. He said I should have gone for Jiran's throat and killed him right there."

"Vaako doesn't understand the merit in keeping certain people alive. How else do you think I've managed to keep this nation from killing itself?"

"So you think I did well today?"

"I think you need more of a challenge." He picked up a bishop and sent him diagonally down the board, stopping three squares from Kyran's king.

Kyran quickly usurped the piece with her nearby rook. "Are you trying to lose?"

"I get tired of always winning."

"We could play a different game," she offered.

"I'm just wondering how it is that you're so good at planning strategy in battle, but can't seem to claim victory in one game of chess," he mused. Her eyes dropped as though she were ashamed. "Why do you let me win?"

She looked at him again. "Maybe I just feel bad for you, ya old man."

"Compassion isn't something you can afford to have as a Necromonger."

"Well, then it's a good thing I'm not a Necromonger, huh?" she smiled. He shook his head, smiling back at her and moved his knight forward.

"Checkmate." He stood up and kissed the top of her head. "Got to bed, Kyran; we've got a busy day tomorrow."

"Oh, right: the banquet. Why do I have to go to that again?"

"Because I have to."

She stood and wrapped her arms around his neck. "G'night, Dad."

"'Night, Baby." He held her for a brief moment as though it would be the last time he would ever see her. When he let her go, she headed promptly for the door. He knew she wouldn't actually go to sleep; she'd been defying his orders since she was five. But she would give the illusion of obeisance, and that was enough. He marveled again at how much she looked like a memory. The piercing, midnight blue eyes, the less-than-platinum blond hair, it all belonged to the women he'd seen as equals in his life, the few he'd actually respected, the few who would have made suitable partners. Instead, he'd used a young Furyan woman for her blood and her physical traits, and nothing more. And it had given him exactly what he'd wanted, which made it worth it in the end. He could almost pretend that one of the more worthy women had actually birthed her.

She's perfect--just like you'd want her to be: she has my strength, but your humanity. I see the value of that compassion now; it drives her, just like it drove you.

Back in her room, Kyran unlaced her boots and pulled them off her tired feet. She shed her pants and replaced them with a more comfortable pair, then picked up a book and set down to read. She wouldn't be tired for a few hours yet, but she would stay in her room and allow her father--and all his subjects--to think that he still ruled her.

When she'd made it through four chapters, she felt her eyes begin to get heavier. She placed the marker on the page and closed the covers of the book, setting it on the nightstand. "'Night, Carolyn," she whispered to the photo before reaching up to turn out her light.