The Ghost in the Machine

Chapter Ten: Keep the Lights on For Us

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Riddick Series.

Author's Note: I live to write another day! So please don't kill me! Thanks to everyone who took the time to review, alert and fave, you guys are the best! And there are a lot of you, wow. I don't know if anyone other than me cares about the stats but this story has attracted more attention than I ever could have imagined when I first started it, so thank you all!

Now without further ado, the story!

Harry jerked and shuddered weakly in Riddick's grip, his back arching as the convict continued to tug and tease his over-sensitized flesh.

"Shit Riddick," he moaned, the arousal re-building itself in the pit of his stomach with frightening speed, "Get off."

"That's the idea."

Harry couldn't help the noise that escaped him as Riddick moved his free hand down the back of his pants, spreading his legs with a nudge against the inside of his thighs and tracing his fingers down the cleft of his ass.

Harry, not particularly wanting to fuck in the sand, in full view of anyone who wandered into the street, without lube, again, grabbed onto the frayed threads of his self-control and caught Riddick with a boney knee to the ribs, rolling off the convict and onto his feet in one smooth motion and tugging his pants back up over his hips, tucking himself back inside, still breathing heavily.

Harry shook his head, trying to clear the fog of orgasm and subsequent arousal from his mind and took stock of himself. He was flushed, sweating and covered in sand and the scent of engine grease. There was drying cum on the hem of his shirt and Harry frowned at it a bit before shrugging, as dirty and distracted as everyone was right now no one would notice.

Riddick had managed to get his shirt up out of the way before they'd released, and was, calmly as you please, mopping up the mess that coated his belly with a relatively clean edge of the grease rag.

"Why do I get the feeling that round two always devolves into rounds three and four with you," Harry commented, watching Riddick pull on his goggles and slip his discarded shiv into his pocket.

"Cause you get me, sweetheart," said Riddick, a smirk twisting his full mouth.

Harry snorted a bit, cocking his head, and then he grinned, the angle giving his features a coy cast.

"You're not that hard to figure out Riddick."

That look burned straight through Riddick and suddenly the convict wanted nothing more than to drag the slender man back down onto the sand dune and make three more rounds a reality the urge burning through his usual unaffected self-control.

He was up and had his face buried in the joint between Harry's neck and shoulder teeth grazing along the jut of his collar bone, watching the light flare up under his touch.

"Come on, we've got shit to do. Work now, sex later," Harry said insistently, nudging him with a hip.

Riddick could push, Harry roused for him more readily than any man or woman he'd ever had before, it would be easy enough to forget himself in his heat, but—

"When this is over, you and me are gonna find a bed and do nothing but fuck and sleep for a week," Riddick murmured.

"Sounds like a plan to me," hummed Harry, "But when all this is over Johns is gonna drag your insatiable ass back to slam, and if you think otherwise the sun has cooked your brain."

"Let me worry about Johns," said Riddick, poking his nose behind Harry's ear in a motion that Harry would have called nuzzling if anyone else had been doing it, "Imam's looking for you."

Harry looked up, and sure enough there was the holy man, making his way over from the mess a frown twisting his usually zen features. Riddick released him with one final smack on his ass.

"What're you gonna do?" asked Harry.

"Gotta talk to the captain."

Harry arched a brow as Riddick disappeared into the interior of the skiff, which was looking less ragged with every passing hour but turned and made his way over too Imam who had stopped half-way between the mess and the skiff, a clear enough sign that he wanted to talk alone.

Harry sighed and jogged over, he really did hate politics.

"What's up now?" asked Harry once he got within earshot.

"Hassan, he has informed me that saw something that he really should not have," said Imam, disapproval written in every line of his face.

Harry grimaced a bit sheepishly, "Got an eyeful, did he? Sorry."

"Harry, my friend," said Imam, dropping one hand adorned with many silver rings onto his slender shoulder, using the weight of it to ensure Harry's undivided attention, "I cannot tell you how you should live your life, and I am happy that you and Riddick have found some happiness in each other in this dark hour, he is lucky to find himself worthy of your companionship."

"I'm sensing a but," said Harry, flippantly.

"However, I have to ask that you not be quite so demonstrative with your physical affections," said Imam in a tone that brooked no argument, "The children are too young and innocent to be exposed to such blatant sexuality, and it makes Paris uncomfortable, to say nothing of what Mr. Johns would do if he saw you."

Maybe it was the fact that his magic was strengthening again, maybe Riddick was rubbing off on him in more ways than just the obvious, but Harry let his lips curl away from his teeth in a feral smirk at the thought of what he would do if Johns got up the balls to come after him seriously.

"If Johns wants to start something, let him. I'm not afraid of him and it's better to get it out of the way before the shitstorm hits, or we're locked up in that deathtrap Fry calls an aircraft."

Imam's dark eyes were searching as they bore into his own steady gaze. Harry wondered, not for the first time, what people saw in him when they stared at him like that, so intently, like they could read his mind past his flawless occlumency shields, or worse, like they could see him all the way down to the blood-drenched animalistic core of his well-honed survival instinct.

"You must do what you think is best with regard to Mr. Johns," he said finally, his voice even but troubled, as if he hadn't found whatever it was he was looking for, "But I urge you to remember that engaging in sexual activities in front of young innocents is not appropriate behavior."

Harry flushed a bit at that, Hassan couldn't have seen too much as far as inches of flesh were concerned but Harry was very much aware that every little touch of Riddick's turned him into a panting wanton mess and it was a little embarrassing to learn that someone other than his current partner had seen him like that.

"It won't happen again," Harry said.

"See that it doesn't," nodded Imam, his face then cleared as though he'd wiped the troubles of the day completely from his thoughts, "Come, take a bit of food and water before we have to journey back to the crash site."

Out of the corner of his eye Harry watched Riddick leave the skiff and move off into the settlement, his rolling gait telling Harry he was far too pleased with himself. Fry stalked out of the skiff and in the opposite direction from Riddick, twitchy and agitated a moment later. Unexpectedly Harry felt a flare of white-hot jealously spark in his gut.

If Riddick had touched her, toyed with her, seduced her—Harry shook himself a bit, Riddick should know better. As long as they were fucking Riddick was his, and if the convict wasn't aware of that, well, he would just have to make him excruciatingly bloody aware of it.

"Harry?" queried Imam.

"Yeah," said Harry, letting his senses track Fry across the compound and into one of the bigger residences along the main street, "Save me something I've just gotta talk to the captain for a second."

"Very well," agreed Imam, but Harry was already stalking off after Fry.

The shutters on the building she'd ducked into were pulled closed and the door was half-open but the tracks in the dust let Harry know that someone had spent the night here, probably Johns judging by the size of the tread marks.

That revelation had Harry arching a brow, as he ducked into the hut and settled himself down in a crouch in the shadows of the entranceway. What kind of game was Riddick playing, sending Fry running to Johns?

Fry and Johns were in the main room of the hut, but Johns seemed not to notice Fry lingering in the door frame watching as he tilted his head back and slid a needle into his tear duct. After a long moment he sighed in relief, blinking fast, as the hypodermic dumped it's payload into his bloodstream with a pneumatic hiss.

"So who are you really?" demanded Fry, stepping out of the shadows and into a confrontation.

Johns didn't jerk with surprise, his movements easy and fluid. Almost too fluid.

"Hello Carolyn."

"You're not a cop are you?"

"Never said I was," countered Johns lazily.

"No you didn't," agreed Fry in a small voice, crossing the room to stand in front of him, perhaps seeing her hero, her partner in all this shit for what he really was for the first time, was that Riddick's angle? Split up the dream-team?

"You never said you were a hype either."

Reaching over she snatched one of the red shotgun shells from Johns' black case, twisting the casing off to reveal what Harry suspected were little ampules of the drug that Johns was shooting up with. She ran her hands over the red shells, silently counting.

"You have a little caffeine in the morning, and I have a little morphine. So what?"

"And here in this shithole you have two mornings every day. Wow, were you born lucky or what?" said Fry her voice dripping with uncharacteristic scorn.

"It's not a problem unless you're gonna make—"

"No," snapped Fry, slamming her hand down on the table and sending a few loose shells rolling of into the sand, "No, you made it a problem, my fucking problem, when you let Owens die like that, when all this time you had enough drugs here to knock out a fucking mule-team."

"Owens was already dead," snapped Johns, quieting Fry for a moment, then he smiled, a nasty smile that reflected in the cold blue of his gaze, "His brain just hadn't caught on to the fact yet."

Fry choked on her own protest her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water, and then she took a breath, shook her head and said, "Is there anything else I should know about you Johns? I mean Jesus fucking Christ I'm letting you play games, letting you roll the dice on our lives while you're—"

Johns surged to his feet with surprising agility for someone who was probably high as a kite, caught Fry by the wrist and dragged her flush against his body. She froze, in shock, most probably, but maybe there was something else there, Harry couldn't tell without seeing her face. Johns dragged her hand under his shirt, tracing it across his sweat damp skin slowly until it settled in the dip above his belt-line where his spine curved inward above the swell of his ass.

Fry's breathing hitched and Harry watched the play of her shoulder muscles as Johns released her hands and left her free to drag her fingertips over the spot he'd shown her.

"You feel it? That is my first run-in with Riddick," he murmured into the top of her head, "He went for the sweet spot and missed. They had to leave a piece of the shiv in there, Carolyn, and I can still feel it, everyday, pressing against the cord of my spine. So maybe the care and feeding of my nerve endings is my own business."

Harry watched Fry lean into Johns' warmth for a brief moment and could easily imagine from the blissed out expression on the merc's face just how good it was for him to have her pressed against him, her nimble hands tracing over the outline of the sensitive scar tissue. She tilted her face up to look into his eyes and Harry thought for a second that she was going to let him lean in and kiss her, everything else be damned, but instead she took a step back.

"It's just that you could've done something, and you didn't."

She turned to leave and Johns slumped back into his seat, a bitter smile twisting his features into their customary ugliness.

"Yeah, well, look to thine own ass first, isn't that right Carolyn?"

Fry flinched at that parting shot, and watching her stalk out Harry almost felt sorry for the both of them.

Outside, Hassan and Suleiman were calling out for "captain" babbling urgently in Arabic as they accosted her just outside the door.

"I'm not your fucking captain," she told them tiredly.

Harry waited until Johns had gathered himself and slipped out behind Fry and then followed after them to see what was wrong, although given the circumstances, and the ominous chill creeping up his spine, he could probably already guess.

Sure enough gathered in the street everybody was just watching as a golden arch rose from the horizon and then a second, casting a shadowy haze over part of the sky as it started to obstruct the far right edge of the binary suns' aureole.

"What are my eyes seeing?" whispered Paris.

"It's starting," answered Fry staring hypnotically as the edge of the horizon began to darken, the ringed planet moving in between the binary suns and Hades.

Wheeling around Harry noted that there was no blue luminescence rising on the opposite horizon though the binary stars were already well on their way to setting for the day. Harry guessed that the smaller gaseous planet had already moved into position to block the light from the blue sun. Their time was almost up.

"If we need anything from the crash ship," said Shazza, her voice strangely calm, "I suggest we kick on. That sand-cat is solar and we've got nothing to hold a charge with so once we lose the light that's it."

"Hull integrity is good and I've adapted the one cell we brought back before but we still need five more power cells to launch the ship," said Fry.

"I'll drive," said Zeke.

Everybody started moving as one towards the sand-cat and Harry immediately started to shake his head.

"Wait, wait," he said, "We can't all fit on that thing so some of us have to stay here with the ship."

"He's right," agreed Fry suddenly shaking her head as she looked over her shoulder at the entirety of their group

"Alrigh' but who?" asked Zeke.

"Hassan, Suleiman and Jack, for sure—"

"I can help!" Jack protested.

"I'm sure you can," agreed Harry, ruffling his fuzzy bristle fondly, "But the power cells are too heavy for you to carry. Obviously Fry needs to go, so one person per cell—Me, Zeke, Riddick, Johns, and Imam are probably the strongest physically."

"Sound like a plan," agreed Zeke.

"I'm coming with you," protested Shazza.

"No, stay here with Jack n' the boys, they need someone who knows what they're doin' if we don' make it," said Zeke taking her by the shoulders.

"Don' talk like that! And that's exactly why I don' want you to go off alone! You always get yourself into trouble—"

Zeke cut her off with a short open-mouthed kiss.

"M'not alone, Harry'll be there an' we need you here prepping tha' bloody skiff for a quick take-off."

"We don't really have time to argue the point," said Fry, already moving for her tool belt, "Zeke, get the sand-cat ready, I want this group moving five fucking minutes ago!"

Fry's orders had an uncharacteristically commanding snap to them, Harry noted. She could really get things done when her ass was on the line. Johns, for his part, had already turned on his heel and dashed back into the house they'd just exited from, probably to grab his vest and gun.

Zeke bent and kissed Shazza again, more thoroughly.

"We'll be alrigh' so keep them lights on for us, luvvy."

Harry and Zeke made a dash for the sand-cat, Harry grabbing the cables and scrap metal sled they'd need to drag the cells, lashing a tarp over them so they wouldn't roll around and get underfoot, and Zeke getting the vehicle running, double checking the power levels.

Riddick swung up into the back of the sand-cat with Harry, seemingly unfazed by all the excitement or the planet creeping by inches past the horizon, and Fry slid into the seat next to Zeke dumping her tools under her feet, her O2 rig discarded.

Surprisingly it was Paris, not Imam who jumped into the bed of the sand-cat with Harry and Riddick.

"Where's Imam?" demanded Zeke.

"I thought that he shouldn't be separated from his boys, in case the worst should happen," said Paris, and Harry would have bet good money he was lying through his teeth, "Not to worry, old boy, I'm stronger than I look."

"No time to argue," said Fry, "Drive."

"Johns!" Zeke called, putting the sand-cat into drive and circling the vehicle in a wide U-turn to point it back towards the canyon they'd walked through what seemed like forever ago.

Johns burst out of his hut, still tightening the straps on the belt of ammo he had strapped across his shoulder, and grabbed the top of the roll-cage to haul himself into the vehicle as it started to move in earnest, Riddick lending him a hand up the rest of the way.

Harry was unsurprised but a little disgusted to note the two red shells tucked into the belt alongside the blue ones.

Zeke drove like a maniac and through the canyon, ploughing through obstacles like they weren't even there and leaving everyone the duck and madly try and cover their heads and necks as they drove through one of the massive skeletons of the boneyard and sent the whole thing crashing down behind them.

Once they were out on the open plain of the rocky desert they made good time, speeding over terrain in minutes that had taken them hours to cover by foot. Harry watched, apprehension pooling in his gut, as the curve of the ringed-planet crested the horizon. Backlit by the red and yellow light of the binary stars as they too made their slow descent out of the sky, the planet took on a hellish fiery glow.

"What do you think?" asked Riddick, glancing at him over the tops of his folded arms.

"It's horrifyingly beautiful," Harry answered absently all his attention focused on the planet-rise.

Riddick laughed at him a bit, but Harry couldn't bring himself to care, his focus turned itself inward, gauging the strength of his magic in case they got into a tight spot.

"There's the wreck!" said Fry, pointing.

Zeke adjusted their trajectory a little and upped to speed until they were flying over the terrain every bump and divot threatening to send the people in the back flying off.

He skidded to a halt in front of the split in the hull wheeling around to face back the way they'd come while everyone else swung out of the sand-cat and made a run for the battery bay, Fry in the lead, with Johns and Riddick hot on her heels.

Harry kicked the sled out of the back of the vehicle carelessly. Using the cables to hitch it to the sand-cat.

"Hey! Where the bloody hell are you goin'?" demanded Zeke as Paris took off running across the sand towards the cargo hold, his silks billowing in the sudden high wind, raised, probably, from the sudden change in temperature on the other side of the planet where it had already been full dark for who knew how long.

"I'm just going to get a couple of things, I'll only be a few minutes," said Paris, turning to call back to them, "You wouldn't leave without me!"

"Yes, I bloody well would!" Zeke called after his retreating back, "If yer stinkin' arse ain't back 'ere before the cells are loaded on consider yerself monster bait!"

"Come on!" urged Harry darting into the ship.

The battery bay was just how they'd left it and Fry punched in the override code to the computers, flipping the ship over to emergency lighting and auxiliary power, not that that meant much of anything seeing as how the life support systems were totally trashed in the crash but it allowed Johns to pull one of the big cells out of its socket without electrocuting himself.

Johns grunted dragging the cell along the ground for a few steps until he saw Riddick heft his own cell over his shoulder and move out of the battery bay at a fair clip. Then he grit his teeth and with a noise of effort got his cell up over his shoulder and darted out after the convict.

"Someone ought to tell those two to just whip 'em out and measure," Harry snorted, tugging his own cell out of its proper place and using his arms to cradle the ridiculously heavy thing.

Zeke came into the bay just as Fry was determinedly pulling at the third cell and moved to help her while Harry continued outside. Johns and Riddick had both dumped their burdens into the sled and were now racing both the eclipse and each other back to the battery bay, bypassing Harry at a fair clip.

Still, Harry was glad that they were moving and that Zeke had left the sand-cat running because the rising planet was starting to cast a shadow over everything. Its bulk blotting out the better part of the sky. The sand-cat started to stutter.

"Shit!" cursed Harry swinging up on top of the roll cage and trying to wipe some of the accumulated dust from the drive from the cover over the solar panels, "Hurry the fuck up!" he called.

One by one the last three power cells were loaded onto the sled, one each for Zeke, Riddick and Johns. Zeke bent and lashed the tarp around them so they wouldn't lose them in the mad rush back to the settlement.

"Alrigh', we're gone!" shouted the prospector sliding back into the driver's seat of the sand-cat.

The planet rose inexorably, its widest point passing over the horizon and the rings finally reaching up to block the light from the binary suns.

The engine on the sand-cat stuttered and died underneath Harry's hands.

"Fuck, no!" cursed Zeke kicking at the dashboard.

Rising from the spires came a long triumphant creel, echoed by another and another, trailing off into trilling, satisfied hisses that Harry could barely make out over the sound of cracking stone and fluttering.

"Time's up," he said, more to himself then anyone, his eyes seeking out the dark jutting of the stone spires against the sky in what little dim light remained.

Incongruously Harry was reminded of first year and the sound of Professor Flitwick's enchanted keys, the sound of the rustling of many wings as the creatures rose from their dens and took to the air, their cries melding into one bone-melting, screeching roar.

"How many are there?" Johns demanded of Riddick.

Riddick stared out into the darkness as hypnotized by the spiraling mass of fully-grown airborne predators as the rest of them had been by the rising planet. He didn't answer Johns but Harry thought he might have heard the word beautiful slip from between his lips.

Harry found himself agreeing as he watched the creatures bank sharply, moving as one towards them.

Deadly, terrible, beautiful.

AN: Sorry for the slightly shorter chappie, especially since it's been ten months since my last update (a new record of slowness for me and this fic, I do believe) but this is really just a filler and you guys can expect a longer action-packed chapter on the next go around (whenever that is). Strangely the further into this story I get the more difficult it becomes to power through with the full chapter and update, so, with that in mind, I can't promise that I'll update soon, but I will try and punch something out for you guys over the Christmas break.

Hope you all enjoyed, please let me know what you thought! Your reviews are all that keep me going in the darkest hours of frustration and writer's block.

Til next time!