Riddick Is Dead
Written by Kevin F. Pickett, 3 Chapters
My name is Richard B. Riddick. I was once a man who upheld the law. Now I break as many laws as I need to survive, sometimes even the laws of life and death.
I am now a fugitive on the run. The first prison I was in, was for a short while. Before my first 'lights out', I escaped by knocking out a guard who was half my size. What a pathetic excuse for security. I was captured a month later and sent to a high level slam for people like me. I'm a career escapee. I'm always on the run.
My last stay at a five star max security slam got me a cool shine job on my eyes. Being on the run means you have to stay in dark places.
These new eyes give me the advantage on some wannabe, employee of the month, mercenary sent to kill me. In the shadows I get the drop on them and if I'm in a good mood, I'll go shiv happy on their ass. I love blades. They just feel right in my hands.
Chapter 1 - Descent
I remember the first time I died like it was yesterday. Most people are afraid of death. I've seen it so many times that the idea of death and its finality captivate me. Spiritually speaking, it can't be final. Physically it is. I've seen it done by my hands enough to know the body doesn't go for walk after it's spine's been shattered.
What happens when you die? I was curious for many reasons. Death could be the ultimate escape from the government. How could they follow me? Was there any pain? Could I inflict pain on those I meet in death? The worst feeling in the world is that half of a second in which you take your last inhale. Do you get to feel the exhale? I know the answer.
Mortuaria Luna. It was my home for a short time. It was a nice hiding place. Not too many mercs would venture to that planet even for a quick peek. Most people stayed away because death frightened them. I'm not afraid of any man, beast, or place.
Mortuaria Luna was paradise for me, unlike a high security slam which was torture. The lack of freedom and the structured rules made slams feel too much like the military. You wake up for a meal and then you work. You get a meal at the end of the day and then you're confined to barracks and the only entertainment is a medical book on anatomy.
I heard of the graveyard planet before. I never thought I'd ever get to see it. It was on the list of things to do before I died. It's funny how things turn out. I hadn't planned it but it all worked out.
Mortuaria Luna was the place bodies were dropped off to rot. No burial ceremonies, no flowers. Just give them a quick heave-hoe into the pits. These pits were all over the planet. There were huge canyons dug out about 15 miles apart used as giant gravesites. Graveyards were few and far between. Only the rich had actually crypts constructed for entire families. Why did people preserve the dead? No one ever came to visit. There were small towns scattered throughout the planet. Mostly homeless settlements. They had adapted to the decay and disease in the air from the rotting corpses. It was always raining on Mortuaria Luna. No direct sunlight. The planet was covered in a misty haze from all the rain. The light from its sun was reflected off of its two moons giving a blue hue of daylight for 4 hours a day. The entire planet had the same weather and rotated the 4 hour shifts of tinted blue daylight. This created more shadows, and dark silhouettes thrown by any object hit by light. It made you think you were always being followed. What a perfect place for me to blend in.
My journey to Mortuaria Luna started on another planet. I was still on Alpha Rio hiding from my last escape from a mid-level slam. This slam had only locked doors and guard dogs. What an insult? I was a guest of the facility for one year. That was by choice. I had to take the time to get stronger for the running.
The mercenary Talos was smart. He had the local law on Alpha Rio put the word out about me to save him time. The idea of stopping was foreign to me since I've been running for years now. Local law enforcement are predictable though. I guess I am too sometimes. Talos' plan was to put the word out that I was in town. The local law will only run you out of their city. They hope you run to the next town so you become someone else's problem. Talos was waiting for me at the boarder 3 minutes after word reached me. I do the same each time and run at the first sign the local heat is aware of me. As soon as they start looking, I'm already gone. Talos was smarter then that and knew my habits. Sometimes I feel like he was my twin brother lost at birth. He thought like me and from that alone was able to capture me with little effort. There can only be one Riddick per universe. This one's getting full.
It was dusk and I was packing light for the getaway. If I only knew it was Talos. My first mistake was being predictable. It was too easy getting out of town. The local law just let me walk by without stopping me with questions. They were obviously glad to see me go.
When I first got to Alpha Rio I started some trouble for them. My weaknesses are helping people and respecting no laws kept by men with no honor. These lawmen were not men of honor, and I found that out fast. I never carry firearms. They carried big guns, but it was all for show. I dropped two of them my first day here. They were harassing some kid over credits. The predator in me wanted blood but the strategist knew blood would bring the wrong attention. Instead, I just showed them what five hundred pushups a day for one year does to a person. The kid never got hassled again and the law kept its distance from me.
I laid low for months. I enjoyed the open vistas and bright sunlight. I don't get much sun which would explain the shine job on my eyes. Planets like this are not part of my future. I'll be on the run and hiding out in backwoods towns and derelict planets. Alpha Rio was just a stop I had to make to glimpse some bright days for a change. The towns were spread far between mountains and clear streams filling with life. One could live outside the towns for years and never need food or water. I wanted to stay in town and act normal for a change and pretend I'm free and enjoying a vacation. That was until people started whispering about an escaped convict. I knew it was time to move.
Talos, he was thinking ahead of me. He deserved his prize. Too bad he never got his reward. I recognized the typical merc costume at about 100 yards, but it was too late. It was Talos.
He brought enough muscle to take down a mammoth. His men surrounded me at 50 yards giving me enough room to try and run. I got past the first wave by running and evading. I made it out of the city and over the mountains.
Twenty minutes and I was still running. About 15 miles out I hit the second wave of Talos' men. Talos obviously read up on Riddick. He brought some wire-head cyborgs that were juiced up on growth hormones. They were dumb but strong.
I was out numbered but I had some fight left. After the first punches were thrown I knew it was time to admit defeat. Talos had let me run 15 miles straight and then he brought on the fight. It was the perfect plan but I had to let Talos know why the bounty was so high.
The biggest wire-head had a mechanism attached to left side of his brain. One good rip did the trick. He dropped to his knees and I finished with four quick punctures to his jugular. I made good use of a writing implement. Shivs are all around us. You just have to look with real intent.
The rest of the cyborgs rushed me for the kill but Talos stopped them. Talos' first mistake. I wouldn't have survived that beating. The bounty would have been fifty percent and fifty percent of nothing is, well you, can do the math.
They bound me and gagged me for the journey. It was a quick ride to their ship. They used horses. Probably stolen horses. Well at least they smelled like horses. Who uses horses? Someone was trying to keep things simple and not so obvious. They wasted no time getting off Alpha Rio. I guess Talos had people looking for him too.
We rode through open terrain for hours. They never stopped. No need to stay too long where you might be wanted. He thinks just like me.
Maybe I could turn him in for his bounty. I was starting to realize that mercs are criminals too. They're just the ones getting paid to bring in other criminals. I wasn't a criminal. We're all judged by our appearance and it looked like everyone thought I was a bad guy. That's how this prison-escape merc chase thing all started. It all depends on who tells the story to the judge and how it was all perceived. I wasn't innocent but I had explicit reason for what I did. I won't get into details, so you can make up your own mind after we've gotten to know each other.
When we boarded the ship I knew the distinct sound of his primary engine starting up. It was one of my old republic cruisers. I never got to pilot one but I was navigational officer once on one of these ships.
Talos had money or he confiscated this bird from someone who did. I could smell the hormonal musk all over the ship. More wire-heads were around or one wire-head that was heavily juiced marked his territory. They still kept me blindfolded and gagged. This was obviously a new method of transporting me. I was becoming accustomed to the treatment. Talos was playing by the book now.
His turn to become predictable.
His turn to become the prey.
I wonder if he was capable of making mistakes. His men sure were. I had to wait for my moment. I heard Talos speak for the first time, "Put him in the cargo bay. We don't want a dog like that stinking up the ship."
The next words came at no surprise.
"Drug him until we get into hyper-sleep. Make sure he has enough to hold a normal man for a day. That should do it."
That wasn't Talos. That was the man who made the second mistake. Next I felt the needle and then darkness.
I woke up after five minutes. I had the usual sex dream of a woman in white holding me down. I liked it rough but she was nice. I kept still and I didn't open my eyes. This was my time. Time to listen and feel on instinct. They were all tired and already in hyper sleep. The interstellar shipping lanes were only a couple of hours out. They could just auto-pilot this bird and still safely jump into the shipping lanes while they're sleeping. Not Talos. He'd let them go off to sleep, but he was waiting for my move. He knew I was awake like I knew he was in front of me staring me down.
"You don't know what to make of me, do you, merc?"
He kept quiet but I knew he was there. He moved side to side looking me over to see if he could discern anything about my abilities. He didn't know how long I was out.
"You're wondering how long have I been up. I would wonder the same. This is our first trip. Our first meeting. Who has the honor of escorting me to, to.."
"I never said where. You'll have to do without that piece of info. And, my name is Talos."
I moved in close right up to him. Nose to nose. He didn't flinch.
"When we get to the shipping lanes, no, when I get to the shipping lanes, I'll make sure you guys get off safe."
He got a good laugh from that. Then I heard someone else laughing. They were definitely off in the corner. I moved my nose in the direction of their laugh and then I got the scent. Another wire-head. This one was a little more hormonal. Probably a growth hormone junkie. Definitely the one who's scent is all over the ship. He scratched his hand blade on the side of the hull. I could tell the sharpness. It was a double-blade with spikes in the middle. From the sound it might have been brand new. It hadn't tasted blood yet. I could tell. I knew then I had my new tool picked out.
Talos took the opportunity to double dose me with another sleep drug for storage. I stayed out longer this time. When I woke again I was alone. Talos must have put himself in hyper-sleep. We hadn't reached the shipping lanes but I was sure we were close. I dislodged the razorblade I had in my mouth. I hide it in a spot under my tongue I dug out and let heal over with scar tissue. It's the ideal hiding place for emergencies. A little tip given to me in my first slam. I moved it around with my tongue to cut through the gag. I then spit it partially out holding it at the tip of my teeth. I twisted my head back and spit it down to my hand. The rest was easy. Why bore you with simple details. A few cuts and rips and I was free, standing in the middle of the cargo bay.
I immediately sensed it coming at me. My natural reaction was to duck as the blade whizzed past my head. It was the juiced up wire-head. He stayed up for me. Why did he watch as I broke loose? He wanted a fight and I had it waiting for him. The wire-head rushed me as soon as the blade hit the hull. I elbowed his head three times before his legs gave out. When he hit the deck he went for my feet but I was already lunging for the blade. It felt good in my hand. My blade now. I hurled it at his head as he was rising from the deck. He caught it in one hand and returned it sailing back at my chest. Did I mention the fact that I was still blind-folded? I pulled off the blind-fold and stared at this hulk for the first time. He wasn't sweating at all. That's probably why I couldn't smell his scent at first. I'm sure he had his adrenal glands removed to decrease his fear. His eyes were blue LED lit from an obvious retinal wire job. The pale grey skin was pulsing with green veins pumping oxygen to what remained of his brain. He had the same wire-box setup in his head like the one I ripped out on Alpha Rio. They were probably brothers. This was clearly revenge.
"MY BROTHER IS DEAD BECAUSE OF YOU. YOU'RE JUST AN ANIMAL LIKE OTHER WET-JOBS"
I let out a growl as I threw the blade again. I poised myself for his return throw and stepped forward two paces to catch the blade mid-air while turning to send the blade in a boomerang fashion. The wire-head wasn't ready and now had a double ended blade slicing through his neck. Decapitations are always the same. The head talks for a few seconds and then shuts down. This wire-head rambled for about five minutes. I listened to the last part of his dead rattle.
"THE SHIP IS ON AUTO-PILOT TO THE SHIPPING LANES. THERE IS NO ESCAPE."
The talking head was right. I couldn't pilot this bird. I could pull up the navigation and figure out where I was. The navigation station was something I was familiar with. Just like map reading. According to the display we were in the Triton sector.
The head started to speak again, "THE OTHERS WILL WAKE SOON AND KILL YOU WHERE YOU STAND."
I was running out of time. At that moment I saw the Halo Dive suit. I quickly plotted a new course. I had to get out of the ship before they woke. There was no way I could fly this thing. I locked the controls with my special key. Actually I smashed my blade through the console which was my way of locking it from further entries. As I put on the Halo Dive suit I realized the mercs were waking. Talos was still yawning and didn't open his eyes yet. I remembered from the Nav panel that the new course was taking us past Mortuaria Luna. Until then I had never heard of it. I put on the helmet and closed the airlock. Talos was standing at the door screaming my name.
I opened the hatch over a purple planet. We were easily 900,000 kilometers above the surface and moving fast. I had only one chance. The jumping wasn't a problem since I only had to let go and the vacuum of space blew me out. I tumbled downward ripping through the atmosphere like a meteor. The suits external temp was reading 2,000 degrees and climbing. I could still see the ship as it headed directly for the sun. The course correction was simple. I didn't need any mercs following me and damn sure didn't need someone like Talos with vengeance on his mind. I guess that's what a typical day brings when you cross my path. Running was starting to become fun. I could do this forever.