BRIGHT, NEW DAY

UPDATED AN 12/18/12: Reworked both Chapter 1 and 2 to resolve a character issue I had created (seriously, only two people pointed it out and it was a big one!). Anyway, that'll be fixed and thus the new Chapter 3 will be flowing forward.

NOTE: If you wish to leave reviews for chapters 1 or 2, and you had already done so on the prior edit, best bet is to either (a) sign-off and review as a guest, just typing your username, or (b) wait til Chapter 3 and review for all of it. I don't think the changes I make in 1 and 2 will be too profound, but one never knows….

This is my second updated fix to post for Yule. Blessed Season, whatever you may celebrate and whatever gods or goddesses or ideals you may honor.

OLD A/N 04/12: Mostly deleted, except:

Um…. Not my characters; just playing with them, all hail the creators of 'Pitch Black' and 'Harry Potter', blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, I wanted to get this down because I like the premise of it all, and because slayer of destiny is evil and lured me into two of her favorite fandoms ('Sherlock' and 'Merlin BBC'),so I wanted to try, 'cuz it sounded like fun. Come to think of it, it's Pikachumomma's fault that I like 'Twilight', too. Bitches!

Anyway, happy reading!

WyrdSmith

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Main Character List (thus far):

Richard B. Riddick, ex-Company Soldier, Escaped convict & convicted murderer, Furyan

Crew of Hunter-Gratzner: Captain Tom Mitchell, Co-Pilot & Engineer Greg Owens, Navigator Carolyn Fry

Passengers: Hadrial Potter-Black (occupation unknown), Thomas Marvolo Riddle (occupation unknown), William J. Johns (Mercenary/Bounty Hunter/wanna-be cop), Sharon "Shazza" Montgomery (prospector), John "Zeke" Ezekiel (prospector), Abu "Iman" al-Walid (Christlam Holy Man), Paris P. Ogilvie (Antiquities Dealer/Smuggler), Suleiman, Hassan & Ali (wards/acolytes to Imam), "Jack" (stowaway), and the Survivor in the Desert.

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CRASH ACCORDS

The Hunter-Gratzner was a crappy ship running a ghost-lane circuit between New Mecca and whatever backwater planet had enough paying customers to tempt the Company to schedule a stop. Currently on board, locked in their cryosleep containers, was the normal crew complement, including Captain Tom Mitchell, Navigator Carolyn Fry, Co-Pilot & Engineer Greg Owens and a few other professional hobos that didn't particularly interest the three minds that remained awake during the endless voyage, despite the vaunted claims about cryosleep.

One of those minds belonged to Richard B. Riddick, formerly a member of what passed for the military division of 'The Company', but much better known for being a murderer and escaped convict. It was well-known amongst the bounty-hunting set that catching Riddick alive was the payday of a lifetime. The problem was, Riddick didn't like cooperating much, particularly when it involved shoving him into one of the hellholes that passed for prisons in this century. There was a good reason they were called 'slams'. These days, entire planets were devoted to the single purpose of imprisoning the dregs of humanity. Or soldiers with an inconvenient conscience. Whatever.

Riddick was a singular type of person. In a room full of bodybuilding badasses, he would still stand out as the tallest, toughest, scariest, meanest badass of them all. Add in the shiny platinum eyes, and he had a scare-the-piss-outta-the-sheeple factor that was off the charts.

At the moment, he was locked in a cryo coffin and wrapped in chains – gleefully enhanced by that prick Johns with a few brutal, extra-tight loops- and trying to ignore the metallic bit in his mouth. He chose to focus on his other senses, most notably smell, since the fucker who put him here also thought it prudent to blindfold him.

'They say most of your brain shuts down in cryosleep … all but the primitive side … the animal side. No wonder I'm still awake,' Riddick mused sardonically. He knew himself well, and recognized that he was probably more animal than human. Whatever kept him alive.

He mentally catalogued the other heartbeats on this ship, thinking that Johns must have been really hard-up for credits to ship him on a bucket with civilians. Morphine must have gotten more expensive, and it probably never even occurred to the bullheaded merc that there were half a dozen or more planets that specialized in detoxing people from every kind of addiction invented. Fuck, the whole treatment would probably have cost less than what the prick spent on morphine in half a year, and then he'd never have to waste his credits on it again. Then again, he'd be left without a crutch and wouldn't be able to blame Riddick for the fuck-up he'd made of his life anymore. Given what he knew about the merc, he would definitely avoid any situation that made him own his choices. Better to stay addicted and to believe that the pain from Riddick's busted shiv really did still hurt as bad as when it first entered John's sweet spot. Let's all just ignore the fact the medtechs killed the nerves all around the thing and all that was left was a numb spot and a memory of penetration, agony and a visit to the clinic.

'Probably all any of John's lovers could say, too!' he smirked in his mind, before focusing again on his listmaking.

'Maybe 40 people flyin'... Heard a Arab voice, some hoodoo holy man. A few of his acolytes. Must be on the way to New Mecca for a pilgrimage…. Smelled a woman. Sweat, a touch of semen, boots, tool belt, leather. Prospector type. Man smelled like her, and she smelled like him – and his jizz. Must be her lover. Free settlers, then…'

'So, free settler prospectors, who only take the back roads. Holy man on a pilgrimage to New Mecca… ghost lane, then. Cheap trip, too long between stops. Long time for something to go wrong. Foolish, Johns. Musta' needed a hit real bad. Least I know where I am and where I'm going. More than I knew before. Goddamn Johns. Need to ghost that motherfucker soon.' Riddick wished he could shift a little bit. It wasn't necessary, because his body was mostly shut down by cryo, but he was awake and his mind was telling him he needed to move. 'Forget about it. Concentrate. Back to the shopping list,' he thought with dark humor.

He inhaled carefully, gathering all the possible nuances of the car. He knew he was in the first car behind the lead; he could hear the whirrs and clicks that indicated Nav on auto. Johns was nearby. William J. Johns, bounty hunter, blue-eyed morphine addict with a grudge against Riddick. He mentally sneered as he considered the man who had made it his personal mission to get Riddick into slam and collect all those credits. 'Fucker needs to be in slam right next to me,' Riddick growled to himself. 'Killing a little kid just to lure me out. Using innocents as bait. Again. Fucker. Hope I get a chance to break another shiv in his sweet spot – see how much I can make him suffer and still keep him alive.' He was pulled from his thoughts of revenge by a sense of morbid amusement, which would be normal – except it wasn't coming from him. It was in his head – but it wasn't his emotion. 'Interesting.'

Investigating, he inhaled again. Whatever that aroma was, it was damn near tormenting him. Seemed like two people, men. Staticky. Their scents were all over each other, in a way Riddick had never seen before. Not like the prospectors who were, at the very least, hump-buddies. This was … he inhaled again, deeply, and would have moaned if he could … this was like a warm campfire during a fresh, spring rain… like wild things and sophistication … like the moments just before the best orgasm of your life, and the moments right after … Fuck, it was driving him crazy.

Well… crazier.

Growling in his mind, he tried to focus. Slowly, he was able to isolate the source of his obsession and then began to sift carefully through the data. 'Okay… definitely two people. Both male. Enhanced human, sorta' like me, but not quite…. Really healthy, both of them, without even a hint of the decay that most everyone gets just from living another day…

He sniffed again, with the kind of care most sophisticates put into analyzing their cognac. 'This one, closest to me – he's the one that makes me think of green things, growing things, fresh… and that one, next to him – heat, and fine liquor, and … what the FUCK?!'

Heart pounding and adrenaline kicking in, Riddick would have flinched if he could, as his own mind - which was never-before successfully invaded by any of the races that professed to such powers - was suddenly flooded with images he had not created and, in fact, never before seen. Only his rigid control and a lifetime of disciplining every aspect of his own body allowed him to regain focus and mentally step back to assess what was happening. The images in his head stayed where they were, as if they were calmly waiting for him, as if it wasn't an attack at all, more like – an invitation?

Warily, he mentally circled around the junk that had been shoved in his head without his permission. It seemed to be sparking a little, like the staticky feeling he got off the two men he had been evaluating. At that thought, the sparks settled into a kind of glow, as if in affirmation… or approval. What the hell?

Crouching down and resting his forearms on his knees, he intently studied the glowing, tangled pile of – something – in his mind. Slowly, the images came into focus, and he realized that he was seeing snakes of some kind. Two of them, entwined together, although as he watched they parted in a sinuous, twisting of flesh that gave him a hard-on just watching. One was a shimmering black with hints of red along the tip of his scales, and its brilliant, emerald eyes stared at him. It had what looked like feathers in a crown on its head, and running down the center of its length. Bizarrely, it blinked at him, kinda lazily, like it was telling him to take his time and it would wait.

Snakes don't blink. They don't have eyelids.

Of course, most of them don't have feathers, either.

The second snake was much larger. It was beautiful. The scales were a dark green, tipped in black. The eyes were a glowing ruby color that reminded Riddick of blood. It, too, had feathers – crimson feathers that stood higher on his head than the other snake's did, and ran down its length in a pattern that reminded Riddick of a saw blade. They looked sharp, too. He wouldn't have wanted to test it on anything he cared about, that was certain.

The glowing, ruby eyes were intently locked on him, staring into his with deep intelligence. They seemed to reflect great age, and yet had a certain curiosity that for some reason appealed to Riddick. They stared at him and demanded that he stare back.

Well, he certainly wasn't gonna just sit here with two snakes in his head and NOT try to communicate with them! At least it would kill some time. Resigned, he finally allowed himself to meet that penetrating, crimson gaze and mentally 'opened the door' to see what happened.

….Huh!... He wouldn't have bet on this!

A sense of amusement wafted around him, and a smooth, deep, refined baritone spoke to him in his own mind. 'Well done. We are delighted to finally meet you, Mr. Riddick. This voyage has been unbearably tedious, and the accommodations are undesirable. I hope you can appreciate what I have been willing to endure on your behalf.'

. ?...

'Mr. Riddick, if you wish to have an actual conversation, then you must, in fact, converse,' the baritone said dryly. Riddick scowled at the haughty snake. How the hell does a fucking reptile manage to look so - snooty?

A snort of laughter rippled around them, and both Riddick and the ruby-eyed snake turned to look at the third member of this weird mindscape. Emerald eyes were alight with amusement as a younger masculine voice spoke up. 'Snooty! He's got you pegged properly, eh? Honestly, Tom, what do you expect? It's not like he has any clue who we are or what we want. Maybe you should, I don't know, actually explain yourself. Just this once.'

The ruby-eyed snake – 'Tom,' Riddick reminded himself – looked like it was sneering. Bizarre. The two reptiles engaged in a fairly impressive stare-down, before Tom finally huffed in irritation and turned back to face Riddick. 'Very well. I hate to concede the point, but Hadrial is correct. It doesn't happen often, so I like to humor him when it does.' At Hadrial's amused snort, Tom seemed to soften slightly.

'Mr. Riddick, as you now know, I am Thomas and this is Hadrial. As you have deduced, we are also trapped on this deplorable, plebian vessel, albeit voluntarily. We are in serpent form at present because your mind was willing to accept the entrance of fellow creatures, but not of humans. Wise choice, by the way. I wholeheartedly approve! Like you, we are more than what we seem. With me so far?' The smoothed baritone was oddly hypnotic as Tom succinctly informed Riddick as to the reasons why he had two talking snakes in his head. He sounded like he was explaining why he liked a salad with his steak or something, he was so matter-of-fact.

Sitting back on his heels inside his own head, Riddick decided to just go with it. For a hallucination, at least it was interesting.

'We are not a hallucination, Mr. Riddick. We are simply two people with abilities you have not yet encountered. Not that you ever will encounter others like us, of course. I do believe we are the last of our kind, and even we have progressed so far beyond our original race as to look upon them as a tree would look upon an acorn.' For a snake, this guy could really hold a conversation – if you didn't mind feeling like you were chatting with royalty or something. Once again, Riddick's private thoughts seemed to prompt a burst of laughter from Hadrial.

'Mr. Riddick, Tom here,' he began, to be sharply interrupted by the ruby-eyed snake's irritated, 'That is Thomas, Hadrial!' Hissy laughter came from green-eyes before he resumed, 'Tom is the Ultimate Snake. He really is royalty. You won't know what I'm talking about, but he is literally the Serpent Lord. Has been for a couple millennia now.'

Platinum eyes glinted as Riddick narrowed his gaze on the friendlier of the two snakes. 'So, what does that make you, Green Eyes? The Serpent Lady?'

At this, Hadrial immediately glared as Thomas burst into laughter. Listening to the Snake Lord's amusement, Riddick found himself enjoying the sound. Thomas's rich baritone was smooth and melodious, while Hadrial's voice was also deep but clearly younger. It was like the difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate – although both were rich and smooth and reminded him of sex.

Thomas sobered, seeming to aim a grin at the pouting Hadrial before both turned to regard Riddick a bit more seriously. Catching the mood change, Riddick's piercing gaze sharpened. 'Mr. Riddick, we don't have a lot of time right now to truly convince you and explain everything that you must know. I'm afraid I'm going to have to 'cut to the chase', as they say, and simply cite the facts. They are these: Hadrial and I are the last survivors of a magical species that once populated Earth. We are essentially immortal. We are bonded, in the manner of two souls being linked together, a fact that I am certain you have detected with your excellent senses despite the fact that it is essentially unheard-of in this time. Along with other Talents, Hadrial is afflicted with the gifts of Sight and Predilection, meaning he can foretell and foresee certain future events and certain aspects of present or past events that are of import to us. I – have other abilities. We are quite powerful, and we want you.'

The abrupt conclusion to the bewildering recitation left Riddick momentarily stunned as he tried to process what he had just been told. A few moments of silence, and then, 'What? What do you mean, 'you want me'? In what way? Why? Despite what you may have heard, I ain't a killer for hire, you know.'

A long, almost mournful hiss came from the ruby-eyed snake, and the smaller one seemed to sadden as it slithered closer and gently flicked a forked-tongue out toward Riddick. This time, it was Hadrial who replied, 'Oh, Riddick. I hate that your first thought in response to being told you are wanted is to believe the worst. You didn't even consider that Tom meant exactly what he said, did you? We don't want to hire you, Richard. We don't want you for your skills or your reputation or any of that. We just want you.'

Riddick shook his head in confusion. What the hell? He kept getting these feelings that seemed to belong to the other two people presently occupying his head, feelings of ….compassion? desire? affection? It was seriously fucked-up, and Riddick didn't believe he was going to host these two any longer. It was getting crowded in here.

'No, Richard. It isn't crowded in here; it's just that you are too accustomed to being lonely. I greatly want to explain more, to convince you, but we are almost out of time. Now, listen!' Thomas's voice was commanding, and to his complete surprise, Riddick obeyed without question.

'We are here at this moment because our original plan to remove you from your destination prison is now defunct. This ship will never reach that destination; it is preparing to crash, and the planet it is going to is called 'Hades' for a damn good reason. It would be entirely inhospitable without the presence of Hadrial and myself. It is a planet that has three suns – don't worry, we will protect your eyes so that you may see without pain and still retain your abilities. The planet itself is mostly dead. There is an indigent population of beings that live beneath the surface, distant relatives of an ancient magical creature from Earth. They are ruthless predators, cannibalistic, utterly deadly, and preparing to swarm with the coming eclipse. Light harms them, and it is just the luck of the people of this vessel that they will crash on a planet with three suns and a light-sensitive population of meat-eating killing machines at the same point in time that said planet will undergo a lengthy eclipse.

He paused for what felt like a brief moment of wry, resigned amusement, then continued, 'In short, Richard, we are about to crash on a planet where the night is finally due and the monsters of the dark will come out to play.'

Riddick felt like his eyebrows were permanently raised at this point. Taking a moment and a deep breath, he glanced at Hadrial. 'Seer, huh?' At the little snake's slow nod, Riddick summarized the situation beautifully. 'Well, shit.'

Thomas hissed delicately. 'Quite…. Richard. Please listen and believe me. We three will survive, and there are certain members of this vessel that we will assist as well, but at no time will we abandon you. You are our first priority. We have endured years of travel in ridiculous accommodations, sacrificed other people, and eaten far too much bad food, just to be here for you in this moment. In truth, we tried very hard to get here before this moment, preferably before Johns ever captured you, but events will sometimes insist on happening a certain way regardless of even our wishes.'

Riddick stared at the two in bewilderment. There had to be a catch. Why the hell did they want him? Hadrial carefully slithered up to him and his forked tongue flickered against Riddick's hand. 'Richard? May we assume our human shapes? Show you who we are when we aren't in this form? It will help you understand.' He waited patiently, and hissed in delight at Riddick's slow nod.

The emerald-eyed snake slowly backed away, as Riddick rose to his feet to stand poised and waiting. Neither Thomas nor Hadrial missed the fact that the warrior was balanced and fully prepared to launch into battle. As the silver-eyed man watched closely, the two snakes began to shimmer, and the sound of static around them increased briefly before the visual twisting of light and matter forced Riddick to look away. When the static died and silence reigned, the Furyan slowly turned back. He was not prepared for what he saw. Not…at…all.

Standing before him were two, dark-haired men. That was as normal as a description of them would ever get. They were incomparable. The younger, Hadrial, was simply beautiful. He had long, midnight-black hair that shimmered darkly as it flowed out from the jade ring binding it into a long tail that ended just above the curve of an ass that Riddick really wanted to inspect more closely. Straight, black eyebrows and thick, black lashes were the perfect backdrop for the young man's blazing, emerald eyes. His nose was straight and fine-boned. His mouth was perfectly formed, with dark pink lips and straight white teeth that were currently nibbling on a lush bottom lip. His bone structure and creamy skin took his appearance from simply lovely to exquisite. He stood a full head shorter than the other man, and wore simple, high-quality clothes that seemed suited for a military expedition. What Riddick could see of his frame was enough to tempt the large man into numerous fantasies.

Next to him stood Thomas, and if Hadrial was exquisite, Thomas was extraordinary. He was quite tall, meeting Riddick's gaze levelly, which put him around six and a half feet. His body was toned and athletic, with strong muscles evident through the expensive, wilderness clothes that seemed to be made especially to highlight the long, lean lines of his legs, the flat abdomen and broad chest and shoulders. He held himself with a lethal grace that was, by its very understatedness, convincinglydeadly. This was a body that Riddick immediately wanted to test and explore, to see who was alpha and who was not. For the first time in his entire life, Riddick wasn't sure how that question would be answered. Silver eyes trailed up Thomas's form, to inspect the face of what a fanciful person might call a 'dark angel.' Long, rich, chestnut hair was bound by two silver bands into a long tail at the back of his well-formed head and trailing to mid-back. Slightly darker eyebrows winged across a handsome forehead and framed a strong, aristocratic nose. Sharp cheekbones and a strong jaw, along with that nose, screamed refinement and good breeding. Beautifully-formed lips drew Riddick's attention like a magnet, and the convict actually had to swallow sharply as Thomas began to smile and straight, white teeth seemed to beckon and threaten him. Letting his gaze finally move up to meet Thomas' eyes, Riddick drew a shocked breath at the piercing, blood-red stare framed by lush, black lashes.

In a word, Hadrial and Thomas were ….

'Beautiful,' Riddick breathed. He felt like he'd been punched in the gut.

Seeing these two in their human forms, Riddick suddenly felt the intense draw that had caused him to focus so sharply on them while still trying to endure the cryosleep that wasn't. He felt like he had to be here, with them. Like if he had to separate from them, either of them, he wouldn't survive the agony. Understanding flooded the space in his mind, as emerald and ruby eyes met stunned platinum.

'Now, you comprehend,' Thomas said softly. He was watching the big man carefully, as if worried for Riddick's welfare. Riddick shook his head in denial of that likelihood, then abruptly nodded in agreement with Thomas's words. He flushed slightly, feeling a little foolish at his obvious confusion. And that, too, was an unusual experience for Riddick.

Next to them, Hadrial stiffened and said tensely, "It's almost time."

At that, Thomas immediately reached out a long arm and snagged Hadrial, tugging the smaller man over to stand close to Riddick. Both men then put a hand on Riddick's arms, gripping tightly as Thomas urgently spoke. 'We have put certain measures into place, Richard. The Navigator, a Miss Fry, will attempt to disconnect all of the attached cars to lighten the tail end and enter the atmosphere safely. She will do this after we redirect the part of Fate that wishes to see the Captain die. Mr. Owens will receive that blow instead, but it will not kill him. We prefer that he should survive. The Captain will be delayed by this, however, and thus Miss Fry will have ample time to do a fair amount of damage and manslaughter. The Captain will stop her after she already releases the last two compartments. There is no way for us to save those people, although one survivor will find his way to us on the surface. In most of the probabilities, Mr. Owens dies and the survivors end up being led to their deaths by Ms. Fry and Mr. Johns. In every eventuality, you survive.'

He offered Riddick a wry grin and said with commiseration, 'I can well understand why you might wish for Mr. Johns to die very soon, but I assure you he has a much better role to play in his unwilling bid for redemption.'

Riddick listened closely, offering the barest of smirks at the nugget about Johns's planned fate, even as he began to feel the impacts against the hull of the ship and the bucking of the container that held his body. The three men clung together within Riddick's mind. Thomas continued, "We must not separate until after the ship hits atmosphere and we are docked. We must use the link Hadrial and I have to keep this vessel level and whole; your contribution to our efforts would be most welcome. We must prevent the damage that would otherwise occur. I have no intention of trekking through the desert to attempt to revive a three-seater relic, regardless of how comfortable we could render it!'

Somehow, Thomas's unrelenting snobbery was vastly reassuring. He probably intended it to be.

A huge shudder of the craft nearly threw the men to their knees, but none released the tight grip they had on each other. This was new to Riddick, but he was good at adjusting to different situations and could obey orders when it suited him. Besides, he felt a strong need to keep these two safe. He resolved to think about that later, as distant voices began to shout and echo around them.

Hadrial seemed to be in a trance, frozen in a listening pose despite the wild bucking of the surface beneath their feet. As the two larger men supported him, Thomas watched him intently, so Riddick did, too. At a furiously-shouted, 'Seventy-seconds, Fry! Navigator Fry, you will obey your Captain; do NOT release that lever or I will kill you myself! You've still got seventy seconds to level this beast out!'

At the sound of a shrill, frustrated, female scream, Hadrial blinked those brilliant green eyes and said, "Now."

Power roiled and boiled from their linked hands, and Riddick willingly contributed his own without even knowing what he offered or why. Together, the three men willed the ship through the fires of entry, flicking aside the projectiles that again tried to claim both Mitchell's and Owens' lives as one would an insect. Distantly, they felt the cars that Fry had released impact the surface, dozens of lives winking out of existence. Ignoring the loss except to seize the purged life force before the planet could suck it up, Thomas guided and controlled the spent life force and the power fed to him by the other two, and steered the ship into a flat, shallow glide over the immense desert.

In the forward compartment, Fry and Mitchell felt the controls ripped from their hands and a wall of energy pulled them both backward into their vacated cryosleep lockers and slammed the doors shut. Owens was locked in his own cryo-coffin, unconscious. Shocked and terrified, the two awake crewmembers watched through the windows as energy shimmered through and around the outside of the ship, forming an impermeable skin over the vessel and shimmering visibly as it covered the viewing port on the front of the ship.

Within seconds, the chaos and destruction that marked the ship's past few minutes eased into an eerie stillness as the ship seemed to level off and calm itself, engines now shut down and silent, as the ship silently glided across burning sands, far beyond a point at which it should have crashed into the ground, and eventually slowed to drift quietly down to rest beside a tired-looking settlement.

Gasping, nearly hyperventilating, Fry screamed in reaction as the door to her locker clicked open. To her left, Mitchell was cautiously stepping out of his own locker and looking around in bewilderment. She watched, too afraid to move, as the Captain took stock, and felt a shiver of dread run down her spine as the man froze, mouth agape, as he stared across the compartment. Carefully leaning forward to poke her head past the wall of her cryolocker, Fry turned to see what Mitchelle was staring at, and gasped.

The three cryolockers on the opposite wall, one of which housed the dangerous prisoner Riddick, were covered in the shimmering, living energy that had surrounded the ship and brought it safely down. Owen's locker was covered in it, too, but his was almost pure green. As they watched, a dent in Owens' forehead smoothed itself out. It was fascinating to watch, despite the urgency of the moment.

A loud thump drew the attention of the crewmembers to the locker of William Johns, who was screaming and pounding on the door, which refused to open. Three, distinct clicks brought their attention back to the shimmering lockers. All three doors opened in unison. A tall, handsome, well-dressed man gracefully stepped out of the farthest chamber, offering a gallant hand to the younger, beautiful man in the chamber next to him. As the taller man glanced briefly at them, they flinched in concert at a flash of bright, red eyes. The two turned to look at the chained, bound, blindfolded figure of the notorious murderer.

As the taller man waved a hand almost casually, the chains dropped from the muscled convict as if they were never fastened at all. Another gesture, and the blindfold and bit were gone, and metallic eyes were blinking in the sudden light. The smaller man stepped over fearlessly, ignoring Fry's instinctive warning, and raised a sheltering hand over the watering, platinum eyes.

At a sibiliant whisper, Riddick felt a soothing, cool balm slide over his eyes, and when he cracked them open again, he could see perfectly in the bright light of the downed ship. He felt a new, nictating membrane filtering out the UV rays and briefly recalled seeing both raptors and serpents with the same attribute. Testing his control over the new membrane, he hissed at the painful light that assaulted his eyes and hurriedly lowered the clear membrane again. Knowing that his original, black-out sight was still available to his will, Riddick felt a wash of relief flow through him. Breathing deeply of the intoxicating aroma so close to him, Riddick dared the light and opened his eyes fully.

The first thing he saw was a smiling Hadrial, standing directly in front of him, with Thomas standing tall and composed behind the smaller man, a hand on his shoulder. Emerald and ruby eyes smiled into wondering platinum. Thomas held out a hand to Riddick, waiting patiently while the big man took stock and made up his mind. He nodded gently when Riddick accepted his hand, closing strongly over the calloused palm and pulling the convict forward out of the locker.

The three stood together in the ship as they had in Riddick's mind. Looking down at Hadrial, Riddick raised his free hand and ran a gentle finger down the smooth cheek. Thomas did not let go of Riddick's other hand, and Riddick was just fine with that.

There was much to do, and explanations, however brief, were in order for the surviving crewmen at the very least. A nearly-hysterical Johns was ignored when Thomas cast a silencing and notice-me-not spell on the locker of the murderous morphine-addict, who abruptly stilled in dread at the look of dark promise in the red eyes that glared briefly into his own. There were people to free and many tasks to handle. There was a stowaway and a cast-off survivor to retrieve, ghosts to settle or send on, and a race of flesh-eating killing machines to befriend.

But, for these moments at least, as Riddick stepped into freedom with two mysterious, somehow beloved men at his side, there was time to pause and simply appreciate a bright, new day.

ooo

a/n2 There – the Owens/Mitchell conflict is now resolved, and leaves me more to play with.

Blessed Be, y'all!

WyrdSmith