Note: So, there isn't much to say for this chapter, except that this is the end of the line, whether there will be a sequel is unknown as of yet. Enjoy!
Chapter Seventeen: Births, Deaths, and Decisions
"He's going into labor, we need to move him to a more comfortable place," McCoy stated in his doctor voice. Riddick picked Harry up and started to move toward their suite with everyone following.
"What do you mean he is going into labor? He still has three months left," Alex called out anxiously as he supported his uncle. Behind him Logan was carting Coor none too gently. Shazza fidgeted guiltily as she prayed Harry and the baby turned out all right. Zeke, who had ran into their makeshift home on the second shot, put his arm around her in comfort. Everyone moved into the sitting room of Riddick and Harry's suite with only McCoy, Riddick, Logan and Alex venturing into the bedroom where Riddick laid Harry upon their blankets. Riddick ran his fingers through Harry's hair as McCoy mechanically removed the clothes covering Harry's lower body. Harry was crying softly in between bouts of pain.
"Can you stop it, why can't you stop the baby from coming?" Alex asked as he took his son's hand to help him focus on something other than the rhythmic pain.
"Male pregnancies don't respond well to the medications used to stop labor. In the best case scenario it can lead to seizures of the mother, but most of the time the mother and infants die from the chemicals. The exact reason for this is unknown," McCoy stated as he pulled a vial from a pocket in his pants leg. "You wouldn't happen to have a knife on hand would you?" Logan and Riddick raised an eyebrow at the man before he explained the need of a knife to cut the umbilical cord. Deciding not to show the man their hand, Riddick pulled out one of his many shivs. Dipping the small blade in the vial, the men were not prepared for the man to pull out a lighter and run the shiv through the flame. A beautiful blue flame surrounded the blade for a moment before it fizzled out. At the questioning looks the man explained, "The liquid was rubbing alcohol. Easiest way to sterilize something is to dip it into a flammable alcohol and light it on fire. Whatever the alcohol doesn't kill, the flame will."
"What will happen to the baby?" Riddick asked gruffly. He worried for his child that still resided in Harry's womb as much as he did for Harry if the child did not survive.
"Children born to male mothers have a better survival rate being born premature than those born to female mothers. Some believe it is because they are heartier from the harshness of a male womb," McCoy said in reassurance.
"Is that what you believe?" Alex asked, wondering if the man was just giving hope without believing his own words. McCoy set the shiv into a box that he pulled out of his pocket and gave a deep sigh.
"Yes and no. I do believe that the womb of a child-bearing male is harsh due to their bodies being different then women enough to not be automatically suited to pregnancies. That is why their symptoms are so very severe. However, I also believe that the father plays a large role. Most premature infants born to male mothers that survived were fathered by races that had a high prevalence for these types of births. Now, I have one question: Are you truly a Furyan?"
"Yes," Riddick grunted, not averting his attention from his lover. McCoy let out a relieved sigh that calmed the nerves of Logan and Alex. Although, everyone still prayed that the labor pains would diminish, they felt more secure about a birth if it indeed happened. Looking underneath the blanket that he had covered him with to preserve modesty, McCoy saw that there was no progression past the pain. Leaving the room, McCoy walked over to have a quiet conversation with Jenson. Jenson nodded his head at the end of the conversation, motioned Scotty over, and whispered some explanation into his ear before the two left. Zeke began to pay attention when Olask asked about Harry. There was not much that could be gathered from the conversation besides McCoy was preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. A light snort came from Shazza at the announcement and she asked in a self-depreciating tone, "So, which do you suspect? That my foolish heroics will cause Riddick to lose them all or that at least Harry may be saved?"
Coor felt a jolt of pain shoot through his head as muffled sounds reached his ears. His shoulders ached and lower leg was numb from the knee down. Cataloging his symptoms, he could only come to the conclusion that he had been knocked out and tied up. Opening his eyes slowly, Coor noticed that Olask sat in front of him with a gun aimed straight for him while the bitch who rushed him and an unknown man were curled up asleep not far from him. Keeping his posture the same as when he first woke up, Coor tried to gather information about his surroundings. Unfortunately, he gathered very little before a kick to the head knocked him back out. Olask opened his eyes from where he had closed them to fake sleep to see an angry Alex standing over the slumped body of Coor.
"I take it that some rather unfortunate circumstances are occurring?" Olask asked his nephew with a raised brow.
"Harry has gone into labor and nothing can be done for it," Alex said with equal parts worry and anger coating his voice. He aimed another vicious kick at the man, this time to his groin, before he went back into the other room. Olask chuckled when he heard Alex tell the doctor to not even dare worry about Coor's health. Deciding to check up on the kids, he gingerly stood and made his way to the room he saw the youngsters disappear into earlier. Ali was asleep on a pile of blankets that Olask assumed made up their bed, tear tracks were visible on his cheeks. Jack played quietly with a stuffed bear, rocking it like one would a baby while she hummed. It seemed that Ali was having a fitful sleep as he cried out in his sleep and Jack moved quickly to his side. Watching as Jack whispered reassurances into the little boy's ear, Olask felt that he was intruding on a private moment and was about to back out of the room. He stopped when Jack's quiet voice reached him.
"Is Mama and the babies alright?" Jack asked from her place beside Ali.
"Babies, what makes you think your mama is having more than one baby Jack?" Olask asked feeling very much unsure about his role in these children's lives.
"I don't know, I just think he is that's all. Is Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa okay? Is that man dead?" Jack answered while asking her own questions that she needed to be answered.
"Yeah, they are fine. Coor is still alive for now, but that is just because your mamma is more important at the moment," Olask answered before he left the children to themselves and returned to keep vigil over Coor. Turning when he heard a slight curse and strained laughter, Olask saw Jenson and Scotty walk in carrying some large medical thing between them.
"Set it over here but be careful," Coor stated without looking up at the men. The large metal box was set in the corner near where Harry lay before Jenson and Scotty left to help Olask watch over Coor. Alex raised an eyebrow when no explanation was forthcoming, but decided not to vocalize his concerns when he felt Logan wrap his arm around him and whisper 'Relax' into his ear. Riddick never took his eyes or attention off Harry, who had fallen into an exhausted sleep. It was quiet for a while before McCoy began to explain what the metal box was, "It's a portable incubator with a pull out drawer of medical supplies in the bottom. Upon setting an infant or infants on the cushioned top four panes of glass rise up on each side slowly so as to not hurt the infant if their hands or legs are flailing around. The fifth, top pane, of glass is manually added and the entire thing is sealed via laser technology. Scanning systems become active once the glass is secured and the needs of the infant are provided for. System settings can be modified to allow one of the side panes to retract for feedings and such. Basically, it is top of the line technology that we were allowed to bring in case of any unforeseen circumstances."
Riddick lay on his side next to Harry, getting some rest before Harry woke again. The labor pains had not subsided, so McCoy continued to check to see if Harry was ready to push. Unfortunately, he was progressing so there was a distinct possibility that Harry would deliver. McCoy finished setting the incubator and checked Harry's progression, only to find that he was fully prepared to push. Moving the sheet further up Harry's body to allow access, he motioned Alex over to help him in case there were any problems with the baby. With everyone in place, McCoy told Harry to begin pushing. It was slow going and Harry became exhausted, but continued with the encouragement of his mother. Hours passed before the baby began crowning and at that time Harry's screams pierced the air. Curses fell from Harry's lips as freely as the tears fell from his eyes.
"Almost there, just give me one more big push," McCoy calmly stated. Harry nodded and tightened his hold on Riddick's hand before bearing down and pushing with all his might. Alex watched as the baby finally slipped free from Harry's body. Reddish mucus covered the baby obscuring the details of its features from view. Taking the sterilized shiv from the box, McCoy cut the cord and handed the tiny baby to Alex. Rubbing the squirming little one clean with a spare blanket, Alex finally noticed that he held a little girl in his arms. Slightly alarmed by the quietness of the baby, Alex rubbed gently circles on her back. The suddenness of her cries nearly caused everyone to jump, but McCoy was busy with cleaning up the afterbirth. "It's a girl, Harry, a beautiful baby girl," McCoy commented.
"Can I hold her, please?" Harry asked before he began to cry out in pain again. Alarmed, Riddick and Logan looked to the doctor for an answer to Harry's distress. Placing a few fingers inside Harry's anus to hopefully find answers, McCoy was shocked to feel another head.
"Okay, it appears that there is another baby in there. Harry, I'm going to need you to start pushing again. Alex keep hold on that little girl, we cannot place her into the incubator until her sibling is born as well," McCoy said before preparing for another birth. Riddick moved to sit behind Harry so that Harry could rest against him. Exhausted Harry gave a small smile in thanks before focusing on pushing his unexpected second child out. When the head came out, McCoy saw that the baby's cord was wrapped around the neck in two tight wraps. Telling Harry to stop pushing, he tried to unravel the cord. As quickly as possible, he unraveled the cord and told Harry to give one last big push. McCoy immediately cut the cord and cleaned the baby, but he realized that the baby was not breathing at all. Startled by that and the blue tint to the baby's skin, he used his fingers to clear out what he could from the baby's mouth. Rubbing gently on the baby's back, McCoy ignored the concerned and panicked questions of Harry and Alex. When the baby still did not respond, he began CPR by giving two puffs of breath to the baby and compressing the small chest with two fingers. A collective sigh of relief was given when the baby gave a whimpering cry of protest. "This one's a boy," McCoy commented.
The twins were placed on the incubator cushion together and Alex watched as the glass panes rose just as McCoy said they would. Harry glanced over at the incubator concernedly before closing his eyes in exhaustion. Riddick brushed Harry's hair back from his forehead and placed a kiss to the top of his head. Logan stood and moved to stand beside Alex and see the babies for himself. Both men ignored McCoy as he placed the top pane on the incubator. The babies were tiny, although they did not seem to be struggling too much considering how early they were being born. Wisps of strawberry blonde hair covered the little girl's head; she hiccoughed while recovering from her crying bout. Meanwhile her brother, who sported a thick and wild mop of dark brown hair, lay quietly seemingly preferring saving his strength for more important times.
"Shouldn't the baby be crying? I mean the baby has to be out by now, so why do we not hear anything?" Scotty asked anxiously, he too felt guilty about the situation as he vouched for Coor to come on this mission. Shazza flinched at the question before her attention was caught by Logan and Alex, who had just exited the room. The men honed in on Coor, who was sitting bound against the wall. Logan lifted the man by the neck and slammed him down harshly. Any further assault was stopped by Alex, who commented that Riddick should be the one to punish the man as he was most affected by his treachery. However, as a parting gift Alex took up one of the guns pulled off Coor and shot the man in the shoulder. A smirk adorned Logan's face when the man cried out. Impatience colored the voice of Shazza as she asked about the survival of Harry.
"Do you think so little of me that you believe both mother and child died?" McCoy asked in amusement from the doorway. His gaze hardened as he saw the self-loathing in Shazza's eyes. "Do you truly believe your actions so devastating? You did what you must in the situation; you knew not of Riddick and Logan's plans. While your actions have led to less than desirable consequences, it is ultimately Coor's fault that the situation occurred. There is no telling that anything different might have happened if you had not rushed Coor," McCoy stated before he crossed the room to examine Olask's wound.
"So, did they have a boy or a girl?" Jenson asked to lighten the mood, as he noticed both Shazza and Scotty contemplating McCoy's words. The amusement shared between Alex, Logan and McCoy confused the others while simultaneously making them more curious.
"They had a boy and a girl. Both are quite beautiful," Alex said before he went to inform the children of their new siblings.
"Is that common, I mean aren't twins rare even in normal pregnancy?" Scotty asked with a bit of awe coating his voice. Any previous misgivings about his part in the current situation were pushed aside by the knowledge that not one but two little beings came into the world in the next room.
"Twins are unheard of in male pregnancy," McCoy stated, "except in the Furyan race, although even then it was rare."
Coor gained a few months of life as Riddick was too preoccupied with his family to dish out retribution. They chained Coor to the same support beam that Riddick was chained to after the crash; they were secure in their belief that he would not manage to escape. Groggily, Coor awoke to the two forceful slaps to the face. Standing in front of him was the raven haired, green eyed Harry holding a baby in both arms. Looking in the direction that the slap came from, he was surprised and angered to see the older child standing there looking smug. Bringing his attention back to Harry, Coor was startled when the whore actually started to introduce the infants.
"This is Blake Andrew Riddick," Harry said lifting the dark haired child in his right arm. Hazel eyes focused on him intently and seemed to glare, although that is not possible for such a young child. Coor watched as the child lost interest and looked back to his mother, grabbing hold of a lock of hair that fell down Harry's shoulder. Smiling down at Blake Harry asked Jack to remove the lock of hair from his fist before he succeeded in getting it to his mouth. "This is Jasmine Abigail Riddick," Harry said lifting the fair haired child in his left arm. Green eyes, the same startling shade as her mothers, looked at the man for a moment before she yawned and snuggled into Harry for a nap.
"Why introduce your bastard children to me?" Coor spat.
"To show you that you did not win: Riddick is still free, I am still alive, and these two are healthy little babies," Harry said with satisfaction. Coor snarled, but paled when he saw Riddick walking toward him from the corner of his eye. Harry carried the children down to the suite to put down for a nap, uncaring of Coor's fate. Jack went to tell Ali of what happened with Coor. Both passed Alex, who was preparing a meal for the group as Jenson requested they discuss an important topic. Everyone sat around the table, ignoring the absence of Coor who was usually tied to a chair near Logan. The meal was quiet at first and many shyly averted their eyes when Harry fed the babies. Eventually, Jenson cleared his throat and brought up the topic that plagued him since realizing Coor's true intention.
"It is very possible that Coor got information out about your possible location, Riddick. If he did, then this planet is not safe for you or your family to live on. Now I realize that I cannot take you back to the nearest registered planet as the people that sent my team would wish me to do. You would be immediately sent to a high security slam, although I doubt it would hold you for long. Regardless, mercs would try to use your family against you like Coor wished to do…" Jenson said his voice fading as he continued to speak.
"Is there a plan somewhere in there or are you just thinking out loud captain?" Olask asked while considering both what was said and what was not said.
"Yeah, the plan is we say that you died as no one survived the crash. Instead, I can take you to the nearest unregistered planet. There is an uncharted system not far from here. Company doesn't think it important as all it contains are planets with primitive societal structures and few natural resources; therefore, the system is not important enough to be on the maps. One of the planets in this system is inhabited by an all male society, it would be the most beneficial destination," Jenson explained.
"What's to stop them from tracking Riddick there?" Shazza asked not understanding how this solution would be any better.
"Mercs use company maps, the only reason I know the system is there is because I have a sister on one of the planets. Plus, think about it. If you stay here, there will be no access to medical care and a genetic bottleneck effect could occur," Jenson defended, ignoring the raised eyebrow from Olask, "So, what do you say?"
"Any one that comes looking would see the changes to the wreckage and know that there were some survivors. Plus, what about the mercs that picked up the possible transmission of Riddick's location? They would know that the explanation doesn't suffice," Alex said, wanting to make sure all bases are covered.
"Simple, we blow the wreckage to destroy all evidence of any modifications and the transmission was sent assuming that there were survivors. Without evidence it was just Coor hoping to find you," Jenson answered the asked and unasked questions. Little more could be said in dispute of this plan, so everyone began to pack. Cages were made for some of the animals, plant specimens were taken, and key furniture was moved to the cargo hold of their ship. Charges were set around the ship, especially in heavily modified areas. Logan and Alex watched the wreckage blow apart from the window of the ship before they took off.
Blake played with the bone shiv that his daddy told him he made on the planet of his birth. He knew that most parents wouldn't let their five-year-olds play with weapons, but he wasn't a normal child; he was an alpha Furyan. Running his hand through his hair in a rare gesture of nervousness, he threw the shiv at the target only to hit it off-center by a few inches. Groaning, Blake glared when he heard his older sister Jasmine giggle from behind him. Turning so she could see his displeasure, Blake did not expect for her to hug him while congratulating him on his throw. Jasmine released her shocked brother and gifted him with a beautiful spiked whip. Both children jumped when their mother called them in for supper. Knowing better to keep their mother waiting, they ran towards the house.
"Get washed up, oh and tell your sister that if she doesn't get out of the training room I will ban her from entering it again. Oh, and tell your brother to leave the book in his room," Harry called after them as they entered the house heading for the bathroom in the back. Turning his attention back to the cooking stew, Harry did not even jump when two arms wrapped around him settling on his slightly protruding abdomen. Leaning back into the embrace, Harry smiled when he felt the hot opened mouth kiss on his neck.
"Saw Blake's shiv embedded in the target," Riddick said in his gruff voice.
"Yeah, he's adamant that he becomes as good as you to protect me in case any mercs get wise of our location," Harry said with amusement coating his voice, "I have no idea where he would have gotten such an idea, do you?"
"Nope, perhaps our headstrong elder daughter has been telling him stories again or it's his Furyan blood," Riddick said with just as much amusement, "either way, he is getting good. I couldn't hit that near center at his age."
"Hmm, well you might want to move, my parents are coming over for dinner and you know that dad still can't stand you," Harry said gently elbowing him.