This is part of my Jack of Hearts Universe and may be read at any time before Riddick shows up.


"River, come here."

The young girl left her puzzle behind as Shirah Tam called her outside. Her mother's voice was a distant sound from within her grandmother's arms. The scent of soil and strength radiated from the woman, the scent of soap and rain and something that was so completely her grandmother. She was safe with her grandmother, nothing in the verse could touch her inside of the Furyan woman's arms, not even her mother or the scathing emotions that came off of her father. When River was with her grandmother, she could feel a buzz in her very being, the call of like to like. Simon and Reagan and her father didn't have it; it was theirs alone.

"Have you been practicing little one?" Shirah pulled back to look her in the eyes, her eyes shimmered an icy blue in the dim light of the evening. It matched the dress she wore. Steel blue silk befitting a queen or a goddess of Greece that was. She was smiling ever so faintly and ever so sadly.

"I have...but, my legs are too little to copy the steps exactly." River hadn't disappointed her grandmother yet, but she had no intention of letting herself fall into Simon's category. Men were inferior creatures. This was known.

"It is not just about precision little one. It is about the sound of Furya running through our veins."

"I've never been home though. Reagan says it is nothing but a wasteland and she refuses to let me go."

"Your mother is weak of soul and mind. It surprises me she did not die in the birthing bed." Shirah led River to a bench and sat down. "Have I told you about the high council?"

River nodded as she climbed up beside the older woman. Regan had put her into a dress more befitting a doll. The lace caught under her knees and itched her skin. "Please tell me again."

"Alright." Shirah was smiling true. "Thousands of years ago, when man first terraformed Furya, the male settlers were in charge of our society. They instilled the laws of Earth-that-was and sought to subject the women to the laws your mother adheres so strictly too."

"Except they were worse," River interrupted. "They wanted the women to adhere to the ancient laws."

"Do you remember the ancient laws?" River nodded, listing them as her grandmother started finger combing River's hair. "Exactly. Well, the day the men tried to subject the women to their laws, a great and terrible disaster struck. A plague spread across the planet, targeting the male settlers."

"Only the women and the male newly born survived, they were changed by the plague."

"Why don't you tell me what happened next then?" Shirah was smiling down at her, making River sit up straighter.

"The plague altered the genetic structure of the survivors. Except it wasn't' a plague, it was a microscopic species." Shirah nodded, continuing to run her fingers through River's hair. "The spirits of Furya they were called. They had been attempting to form a symbiosis with the settlers, but the men had secretly been taking antibiotics since the beginning."

"Why is that little one?" She was braiding River's hair now.

"The men wanted to trick the women into thinking they were blessed. But it was the women who were blessed in the end. The Spirits of Furya gifted the settlers with enhanced physical abilities in exchange for a home. Ever since that day, only a Furyan Woman can awaken the Spirits or gift them to her children."

"And because of that event, women came to rule our home planet." Shirah's voice was proud and her touch was comforting.

"Grandmother?" River asked some moments later. The older woman had braided most of River's hair. Reagan's flowers had been plucked from the earth and scattered throughout the braids.

"Yes little one?"

"How come the Spirits are awake inside of me? You didn't let them into my father when he was born, so how did the get into my bloodstream?"

"I did let them into your father," Shirah explained. She had been awaiting this question for some time. "But, and this is very important, the Spirits and I both agreed that your father should only carry them until such a time as he sired a girl."

"You can talk with them?" River had heard the rest of the story, but the idea that she could communicate with the creatures inside of her was amazing! "How?"

"You dream," Shirah explained. "The Spirits speak with us in our dreams. Sometimes, in times of dire need, they aid us in our waking moments."

"I would like to speak with them tonight," River nodded, mostly to herself. "I have questions."

"You always have questions little one. But they will not speak to you with words River. You must learn to read the images and the feelings they give you. The Spirits are your closest ally and the only thing you can truly trust in this universe. They will never steer you wrong."