The beginning is rough, bear with me please. I'm going a bit AU and changing a few thingsā€¦

River went to the Academy at eleven, she was rescued at fifteen and Miranda happened when she was seventeen. It's been six years since then and as you can imagine they've survived and moved on as they could.

In the Riddick 'Verse I'm going to say he is twenty nine at the occurrence of Pitch Black. I promise he will stay animalistic and the epitome of a predator but you'll see something new with his introduction to River.

The other modifications will be found in the story and bear through River's intro. Though it appears like she is all sane now, the metaphorical River will appear.

Also, River is darker here. You'll see her thoughts-sane, clear and relatively bright and then you'll see her in action-dark, crazed almost, metaphorical. I'm toying with adding a speck of darkness to everyone.

River smiles slightly to Simon as he holds his Kaylee's sleeping form next to him on the couch. River looks to Mal and Zoe, sitting together and talking quietly, both share a broken heart. Neither know the friendship will change in due time. Jayne is sitting on a chair with a picture in his pocket of the woman who owns his heart and always has. He goes for trim and drinks enough to let his imagination change the trim into his Leah. River knows Jayne thinks his Leah dead but she doesn't tell him yet. He has to earn the knowledge and then pass the test to get Leah back. River sits on the rail of the balcony and watches over her family. Family, they all see each other as family. River has forced herself to see family as well, she'd rather name it a pack. River tilts her head to the side and her eyes glaze as she considers herself, beginning to end she knows it all now.

River hides. She has hid for years, transformed to be what was needed. She was born a girl with a beast inside, beast that could see the world for what it was. Girl hid in her innocence, but the beast knew the truths that the girl's innocence ran from. Beast allowed the girl to erect a cage and hide her away, but she refused to let the girl deny the sight. Girl grew up, she kept the beast away from others. Beast was something for her. Girl and beast would wait until dark, until alone, then the cage would open and girl would embrace beast. Two become one. Two by two not just for the hands of blue. The sight read the signs that marked the approach of bad. Dark, not the safe dark, the dark the girl and beast liked, but the dark that existed under bright lights and false smiles, the dark that hid.

Girl and beast started to transform from little cub and little girl into woman and predator beast. They began to change. The change was interrupted, change was blocked. Academy cradled the girl close and the beast snarled, they were separate as they tried to escape. Academy fed girl lies, didn't know about the beast. Academy fed girl pills and needles, making her stop from becoming woman but not touching the predator beast. Girl forgot everything, girl was locked into a cage as well and a body was left with a beast and a girl and broken pieces, alterations and gaping holes. Girl and beast conspired, girl broke out and sent signal to the only person in the 'Verse who'd protect her. Protector forgot all else and broke the body out, he expected the girl and only the girl. He made her sleep and took her onto what would become a new kind of cage for the body that held the girl and the beast and the modifications and broken pieces and gaping holes.

River tightens her grip on the bar of the balcony and blinks slowly. Serenity is her new home, where none had ever existed Serenity flew in. River is River. She knows that the innocent girl is gone, replaced by a strong knowing woman. She knows the beast is inside and that it sits at the feet of the girl, ready to jump. River knows that she has been changed. That she has modifications and broken parts and gaping holes. She likes it that way, even when her pack does not. She became River by removing the cages and placing each modification in its place, fixed her broken pieces and put them in place as well. She slides in a few other parts and proudly calls herself River. River knows that those she thinks of as a pack see her as a wild pet. River inhales sharply, pain wrenches her heart as she thinks of it. They think of her as an out of control dog, soothed with needles and pills. Different intentions than those of the Academy but same effect, yet the new River doesn't let it affect her. She ups the dosage and handles it alone, making her body immune to the touch. Simon doesn't know that she's been immune to most meds he could get his hands on for over three years, he attributes all her improvement to his hands, his meds. River fights not to hate him for considering her weak.

River leans her head between her knees and closes her eyes, still locked in her mind. Her pack points her and she fights. They cage her and she allows it, she loves them enough to hide from them. They have never seen the beast. They only see the worst in the modifications and broken pieces. They never see healed pieces or fitted modifications, fitted parts. They never see the grown woman, although the six years since Miranda have been kind and the expulsion of the blocking meds shoved into her system. They never see River, the new and together woman capable of so much. They only see a broken girl, mostly weapon who's more like an insane dog than a human, let alone a whole human. River snarls low to herself and sits up, eyes snapping open and glaring to the ceiling. No one sees the River. They see what they want and it angers River that they can be so blind, ignore so much, embrace fallacies and created mirages. With a release of her hands River slides from the bar and Simon stares.

"River!" he yells and jolts Kaylee awake.

River somersaults in the air and lands unmarred. She frowns to Simon and wonders why they never see.

Simon bolts to his feet and Kaylee stands as well, everyone is walking toward River with their hands raised. River blinks owlishly and watches them with resigned resentment.

"Mei mei, are you hurt? Come, let me get you more meds, must be stressed."

River shakes her head and it's a jerky motion, making everyone worry more.

"Stress makes you burn the meds faster sweetie, come and let us help."

Zoe smiles soothingly, in her mind she wants to make the girl sleep. She tries not to hate her for letting Wash die. She has let go of Wash, she doesn't resent the death anymore. But sometimes she can't help but resent the girl.

"Little 'Tross, don't do that." Mal drawls.

River glances down and realizes she's allowed their thoughts to distract her. She's drawing patterns on her wrist with a shiv she's taken to carrying. They weren't supposed to know about the shiv.

"The River is sorry she makes the masters fear. She would like to open their eyes. Closed, so closed off. River would like to dance for them soon, but she sees that they want to vault her away into darkness and keep their eyes closed."

River makes the shiv disappear as she distracts them with her words. She knows they don't understand her. They hear what she says and look no deeper. She knows how greatly her silent words and her loud words are different but it's a modification which she ordered herself.

"Mei mei, please, let me help you. We're right here, ready to hold you up. All of our eyes are open."

A flare of anger rises in River, her beast snarls and it leaks out and widens the eyes of her pack. River sighs and plays her part for them.

"The girl is sorry. Inconsequential colors are roaring in her, around her. All around her, they pull her and drown her. She misses the dark. Simon," she pauses, "the girl is unharmed."

River pulls the leash and reigns in the beast of herself as she hears the others doubt her. Their minds whisper, saying she is dangerous and never really okay, never unharmed because she's always wrong, always bad, always insane.

"Come little one." Zoe whispers, wrapping an arm around River.

Simon smiles falsely as he fills the needle and injects his mei mei. He watches her fight the pull of the drugs.

"Just let it take over little River, my mei mei."

River allows her role to end as she slows her breathing and closes her eyes. She hears them talk and her gut clenches. The beast is unhappy, pacing on its leash. She wants to show them. Whispers in her head tell her what it would take to subdue them. Tells what is would take to show them. What is would take to kill if needed. River listens to her whispers and whispers back.

'We wait. Death is not an option. But we will show them. For now, we wait and play the role. Blood will come soon enough.'