BRIGHT NEW DAY: Chapter 2 – Truth and Trust
Riddick was, for perhaps the first time in his entire adult life, feeling overwhelmed. As the door to his cryo-coffin snicked open, he was experiencing an odd type of double sensory perception. On the one hand, there was what his body told him – he was in the cry-coffin, heavily chained and blindfolded, aware of the aches and pains of injuries sustained courtesy of Johns and his goons as they hooked him up to the cryo-feeds. On the other hand, he was intensely aware of the two men – complete strangers to him, technically – who were suddenly and inexplicably more important to him than his next breath, his next heartbeat… even freedom. Thomas and Hadrial.
Even as he wondered at himself, and processed his perceptions of the environment surrounding him, he felt the two, darkly rich energies of Thomas and Hadrial approaching him. Farther away, he heard an alarmed gasp, but was distracted by the fact that all of the chains binding him tightly and pinching into his skin had just dropped off of him as if they'd turned to water. His blindfold disappeared as if by its own will, and suddenly his light-sensitive eyes were watering and stinging in the painful light that suffused the forward compartment. Even as he flinched from it, he tried to open his eyes, desperate to see for himself what his senses were telling him. All he managed to see were two, blurred forms standing before him, but it was enough to ease his panic, to confirm that he had not imagined the two men who had stepped into his mind and awakened his long-suppressed instincts. Regardless of every other fact and truth and possibility that existed before or since the ship settled, it was this single point that mattered to Riddick.
Furyans were not meant to be alone.
A low, gentle voice murmured in a language he did not know, and a sheltering hand was pressed over his streaming eyes. A cool wash of power soothed his burning retinas, and Riddick had the oddest sensation of a second set of eyelids forming beneath that careful hand. As the hand left his face, he hesitantly opened his eyes, and found that his vision was perfect and pain-free, despite the bright light. Momentarily distracted from the men who watched him, he tested his control over the new, nictating membrane that sat clear and cool over his sensitive eyes and found that he could retract it at will. With the abrupt resurgence of stinging, Riddick hastily closed the new membrane again and stared through it at the masculine forms waiting patiently in front of him. It did not even occur to him to wonder at his ready acceptance of this ocular mutation; somehow, he simply accepted it as a gift from Hadrial and left it at that. He was much more interested in who he saw before him, rather than how.
Affection flowed to him through the connection that neither Thomas nor Hadrial had closed when they departed his mind in order to return to the hot, dry reality that was – apparently – the planet of Hades. Glancing down at the smaller man standing in front of him, Riddick could not help but quirk a small, wondering grin at the brilliant green eyes that watched him from the delicately-sculpted face of Hadrial. Feeling oddly shy, Riddick raised his platinum eyes and met the steady, reassuring crimson stare of the tall and elegant Thomas. He blinked in reaction when the dark, velvety baritone brushed through his mind. "You are worth every bit of effort we made to get here, Richard. Be welcome in our bond." The sense of comfort and connection that flowed from them to him took the big man by surprise, and he had to clench his jaw tightly to keep himself in line. Still, when Thomas stepped forward gracefully and offered him a strong, chivalrous hand, Riddick could not help but take a few seconds to appreciate the symbolism of the gesture. Lifting his own, calloused hand, he accepted the offer and was surprised at the strength and possessiveness in the grip of the long fingers that closed around his own and pulled him forward out of the cryo-coffin and into Hadrial's personal space.
Hadrial did not retreat. Not even a little bit.
Both Thomas and Hadrial felt Riddick's surprise at the thought that he, clearly a dangerous and reputedly murderous convict, could literally invade the breathing room of the beautiful, smaller man and not be immediately repelled or rejected. This time, although Thomas allowed his aura to wrap around his newest beloved, it was Hadrial's gentle voice that whispered in Riddick's mind. "You are not invading, Richard. You are invited."
Startled platinum eyes met shining emerald, and Riddick could not resist the temptation to raise his free hand and run his fingers almost delicately over the silken skin of Hadrial's cheek. His other hand seemed to feel completely at home in Thomas sure grip, which tightened as the older man felt Riddick's struggle for his habitual composure as the unfamiliar feeling of welcome and belonging began to settle into the lonely soul.
'Furyans are not meant to be alone.' The shivery, insubstantial words whispered voicelessly through the three men, and none of them were surprised. Neither the spirit that spoke, nor the message it brought, were new to any of them. Riddick had heard that not-voice many, many times. It had comforted and guided him often during his difficult life. It had promised him that there was more to existence than struggle and survival and rage and pain. It was the only thing he could recall that had ever given him even the remotest feeling of home, of belonging, of connection.
Until now. Until Thomas, and Hadrial…. 'And me,' he thought achingly.
'Until us,' Thomas corrected gently.
The voice of his people shivered through them again, and this time, it seemed warmer, healthier, stronger. Like Riddick.
'Furyans are not meant to be alone. We are alone no longer.' Hadrial's smaller hand reached up and gripped Riddick's, and the three men stood together, listening, as the spirit of Furya, the voice of Magic, spoke the truth that Riddick was now, finally, understanding.
It whispered joyfully, 'Pack!'
Captain Tom Mitchell and his Navigator, Carolyn Fry, watched cautiously from their own cryo-containers as the two, dark-haired men freed the convict and the three men stood together in some sort of silent bonding. Despite the urgency of the situation, neither of the crewmembers had any intention of interrupting the dangerous men or drawing attention to themselves until it was absolutely necessary. The power that had formed and controlled the Hunter-Gratzner as it fell from space had been tangible and terrifying, and it was obvious that it had come from the three men who stood at the other end of the compartment. Despite his fear - of the men and the situation – Tom Mitchell could not help but feel the reverence of the meeting of the trio, and want to give them as much time as possible for them to do whatever it was they were doing before the urgency of reality pulled them back. And, deep within him, old instincts responded to the three men with burgeoning trust. It felt natural, as if a forgotten oath of fealty had been renewed.
Carolyn, on the other hand, was frightened and furious. Somehow, the men standing together had basically hijacked the ship right out from under her. Even though she knew that they had saved the ship and as many passengers as Carolyn had not personally killed in order to save herself, at the moment, all the Navigator could think about was the fact that there were five people apart from herself who knew what she had done. Even the cop, William Johns, had seen her release the rear compartments and send all of those people burning in the atmosphere and hurtling to their deaths. As she stood rigidly, watching the odd, silent meeting and trembling violently as adrenaline vacated her system, dread filled her. She had no idea where they were, or what the situation was outside of this compartment, and her stomach roiled with the icy knowledge that she was now probably responsible for more deaths than the newly-freed murderer Riddick.
'Mama would be so proud!' she thought bitterly. The sad thing is, that was probably true. For Carolyn's mother, nothing was more important than survival, and Jasmine Fry's little girl had just proved that she had learned the lesson well. At least she had done it on the job, rather than on her back, like her beloved mama. Still got fucked, though.
Tom Mitchell put a comforting hand on his Navigator's slender shoulder, squeezing in reassurance as Carolyn trembled. He was struggling for words, wondering what he could possibly say that wouldn't sound like he approved or condemned her for panicking, when the three men began to separate and the time for empty words was lost.
In his cryo-coffin, William Johns was freaking out. He had seen the whole damn thing through the jammed door that separated the back half of the forward compartment from the cockpit, had watched as the bizarre static attacked the captain and the bitchy broad and hurled them back into their coffins, and had stared in terror out the nav windows at the projectiles that tried to break into the ship and bring it down. He had even seen the loudmouthed Navigator make a surprisingly good decision and separate the rear compartments in an effort to keep the ship level and save her own ass. All of the events from the time the alarms went off and emergency systems flung him out of cryo-sleep were clear and understandable, sort of. He could live with it all.
Except for the fact that the two overdressed queers had just freed John's million-credit bounty and were holding his hands and gazing into his freakish eyes as if they had just found their long-lost love! And, for some reason, everyone was free of their cryo-coffin except for Johns!
Enraged, the bounty hunter roared and cursed and pounded on the faulty release buttons and the viewing window of his coffin, demanding that he be freed immediately. He locked eyes with the woman crewmember and was pleased when she blinked in consternation and took a step toward him. He stared in confusion when she stopped abruptly, and followed her somewhat frightened gaze, only to find himself suddenly trapped in a blood-red stare from the tall, richly-dressed man. Johns swallowed convulsively, shuddering in atavistic fear, at the message of dark threat and retribution in those unnatural, powerful eyes. The man raised a hand and gestured, then turned back to his companions. Feeling his fear ebb and his indignation rise, Johns renewed his screams at the crewmembers and pounded on the window, only to watch in bewilderment as their gazes seemed to pass right over him. It was like they didn't see him at all anymore, like they had completely forgotten he was even there.
And they had. Thomas had ensured it.
When the private moment that the three men were having seemed to draw to a close, Captain Tom Mitchell squared his shoulders, mentally pulled his head out of his ass, and began to assess the situation. "Fry, check Environmentals. I want information, now! What's the atmosphere, first and foremost. Move!" Satisfied with his Navigator's hussle, he stepped to the Systems console and began to read the data, trying to determine the state of his ship and his passengers. Firmly suppressing the urge to run through the compartments and start pulling people from what he assumed would be mostly wreckage, despite the fact that his well-honed sense of his ship and all of the instruments said otherwise, he forced himself to focus and to follow procedure. As his gaze passed over a space in the compartment that was for some reason open and unused, he felt a tickle of thought that tried to get him to remember something, but the urgency of the overall situation drew him away.
He didn't even see the hysterical, blue-eyed bounty hunter who stared at him from a silenced and forgotten cryo-coffin. Riddick, however, did. The Furyan's only reaction was a smirk.
Mitchell looked up in surprise at the authoritative voice that spoke behind him, and realized that the elegant, red-eyed man was standing at his shoulder and reading the data, as well. The intelligence in the man's eyes was palpable.
"Captain Mitchell, I presume," Thomas said, reaching past the Captain to tap the controls for the O2 generator. The Captain jumped at the burst of staticky power that snapped from the man's finger, and then stared in confusion as the bar graph readout for the O2 tanks began to rise back to Full. "Doubtless you observed our rescue of the ship and have questions; however, now is not really the time for details, nor for incredulity. For the moment, Captain, I am simply going to have to demand your trust, and promise that my companions and I will explain more once this situation and the safety of the passengers is assured. Can you do that?" Sharp, ruby eyes examined him intently even as Carolyn turned around and drew a deep breath in preparation of sharp rebuke. She froze in place as the ruby stare moved to her. "Navigator Fry, you will be silent and obedient. It is more than evident that you are not at your best in emergencies."
The captain winced as Carolyn flinched, but he sent her a quelling look as she rose to her feet with fire in her eyes. "Stand down, Navigator," he commanded. Seeing that she was ignoring him in favor of her own temper, Captain Mitchell asserted his authority. "Navigator Fry! You will stand down or I will put you down! Is that clear?"
"Captain, how can you…?" She had no chance to finish her protest, as the Captain immediately stepped forward and glared down at her. Cowed, Carolyn shut her mouth and lowered mutinous eyes in reluctant submission to the Captain's authority.
Satisfied, Captain Mitchell turned back to the taller man. "First, yeah, I saw what you three did, whatever that was, and I am 100% certain that most if not all of us owe you our lives. Second, I get that you have some sort of abilities that I'm unfamiliar with, and as long as you and your friends there are working toward keeping everyone safe, I'll work with you. But my first priority here is to assure my passengers, as many as survived, are okay. Systems show all of the still-coupled compartments are intact and free of damage, cryo-containers functioning and passenger life alerts show no immediate trauma. I need to confirm that, like, ten minutes ago. If you got something you feel you just have to say to me, make sure it's something I need to know."
In the back of the compartment, Hadrial looked up from his inspection of the shrunken packs he and Thomas had stored in their cryo-coffins and grinned at Riddick. The Captain, at least, seemed to be someone they could get along with, although the pushy Navigator would have a spot right next to Johns if she didn't get a grip. Hadrial was strongly reminded of a long-dead, hot-tempered, freckle-faced redheaded boy whose mouth and ego always seemed to run well-ahead of his common sense. He briefly wondered if Carolyn Fry had any distant Weasley ancestors, then shrugged and deemed it unlikely. After all, obnoxiousness was hardly a trait that was genetically-rare.
Thomas offered the worried Captain a reassuring smile. "Captain Mitchell, I promise you, Hadrial and I have already confirmed that the steps we have taken to secure the wellbeing of the survivors are intact. I realize this requires a leap of faith for you, but you have seen what we can do. Of those passengers who have survived this incident, there is no immediate danger or pronounced injury. Most of they who survived are still safely in their containers in the coupled compartments. Of those in the compartments released by Navigator Fry, there is only one survivor, and so long as no one gets trigger-happy, he will be with us to help secure our survival and wellbeing during the time here on Hades." He saw the doubt in the good Captain's eyes, and the desperate hope that Thomas, Hadrial and perhaps even Riddick were, in fact, able to provide what they seemed to promise.
"Captain." The deep, dark voice came from the back of the compartment, startling the crewmembers and drawing Thomas's attention. The Serpent Lord smiled in delight. It was the first time he had heard Richard's embodied voice, filled with the richness and power of the Furyan. Despite the circumstances, Thomas could not help but let his mind wander forward in time, anticipating the moments when he and Hadrial could hear that sinful voice moaning in pleasure. Across the room, he saw Hadrial shiver, and sent a phantom caress down his bonded's supple spine. Being here, finally, with Richard mere meters away, was a test of their combined restraint. They had sought the lonely Furyan for so very long, and it was nearly impossible to keep their hands off of him now that he was in reach.
Aware of something subtle and erotic rippling through the connection he had with Hadrial and Thomas, Riddick looked down at the kneeling Hadrial and smirked. Having the tempting young man on his knees in front of Riddick was sending his mind off into all kinds of images, and it was difficult as hell to keep his mind on the immediate business. Seeing Hadrial shift, color darkening the ivory cheeks as pheromones released and desire seemed to fill the air around them, Riddick knew that it wouldn't be all that long before the three men found or made time to resolve some of their …. rising tension. Casting a sideways grin over to an intently watching Thomas, Riddick chuckled darkly, watching the red eyes dilate, and decided that whatever else this mind-link was, it was definitely good for the libido.
Reluctantly drawing his mind back to the concerns of the moment, Riddick spoke again. "Captain, weird as this seems, you're just gonna' be better off if you trust him. He and the little one here have enhanced abilities, including something like what Elementals do. They already saved as many as they could – hell of a lot more than would have lived otherwise. Best bet is to let them take the lead. Ain't like you don't already know that. Put up or shut up."
Captain Mitchell stared piercingly at the convict, thinking quickly. The big man was right, and the Captain's well-honed instincts insisted that trusting the two, elegant men was the wisest choice. Still …
"And what of you, Mr. Riddick? Your reputation, not to mention the reason you're even on my ship, isn't exactly reassuring. You gonna' do something I'm gonna' regret?"
Despite the flare of protective anger that Riddick felt coming from Thomas and Hadrial, Riddick grinned. "I ain't an angel, Captain, but I ain't your worst problem here, either. Don't try to stick a blade in my gut and I won't return the favor." His grin widened as he added, "Besides, Mitchell, you of all people ought to know that the Company isn't exactly the most reliable source for information on who's a criminal and who isn't."
Mitchell's eyebrows rose in shock, before a return, dark smile crossed his broad face. If he understood what Riddick was implying, it seemed that he and the big man shared something in common apart from recent events. "Let me guess," he said mockingly. "Your worst 'crimes' happened on a new colony somewhere, and had something to do with your inability to follow orders?" At Riddick's slow nod, Mitchell sighed gustily, ignoring Fry's tightly-crossed arms and glare, and said with weary courage, "Let's do this one right, then, yeah?"
And with that, Riddick and Mitchell became comrades-in-arms. After all, as he told an appalled Fry, "Ten years from now, assuming we survive this, do you think that the report on how you were simply following procedure an hour ago really tells the whole story? If Johns or his buddies try to take you in for mass-murder, are you gonna' go quietly – or are you gonna' survive, Carolyn Fry?"
Although the sulking Navigator did not reply, her silence satisfied the veteran. Hopefully, the woman would stop reacting so much and start thinking a little more.
Looking back at the man standing near him, the Captain extended his hand and said gravely, "My great-grandfather was an Elemental, and his abilities weren't even close to what I saw you and yours do already. I'll trust you, for now. Don't make my decision hurt the survivors of this mess."
Thomas nodded solemnly and said with smooth confidence, "We shall not. Given the circumstances, please call me Thomas. My younger companion is Hadrial. And you have met Richard, whom – I will add – is responsible for much of the power we used to set your ship down safely. Now, to the matters at hand… are you aware of the fact that you have a small stowaway, Captain? Let us begin with retrieving her from the storage container in the third compartment, shall we?" He and Hadrial laughed at the Captain's appalled expression.
Shaking his head ruefully, the Captain prepared to follow orders. As an afterthought on his way out the door, he called back over his shoulder, "Can't have two Thomas's in command. Call me Mitch!"
Watching in fascination as Hadrial opened the pack at his feet and shoved his entire arm into it as he muttered about potions, Riddick sensed Thomas approaching just before two long, muscular arms wrapped around his abdomen and a tall, strong form pressed against his back. He drew his breath in sharply when Thomas purred in his ear, "You will be impressed at our planning abilities, Richard. We have even brought along my ancestral home. You will, of course, share a suite with Hadrial and myself." Sharp teeth nipped at Riddick's ear, and goose bumps raced over his skin as Thomas added with a growl, "How do you feel about hot tubs?"
Given the ….err….. increasing evidence, it seemed that Riddick was in favor of the idea.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it so far. More to come. You may blame or thank TheDarkLadyVoldemort666 for the order in which I post the updates this month. She did an awesome job guilting me about putting off posting! Sorry about that, everyone; "Schooled" chapter 11 explains the whole ordeal.
Update Notification List: If you asked for and did not receive a notice from me about updates as of 7-12-12, please send me another request. I'm really sorry; the change in my computer caused some issues that I'm having to fix. Remember, if you want to be added, send me your email address (NOT your FFN penname). You can either email me directly from the account you want me to notify, or PM me your private email address. NOTE that FFN deletes email addresses from everything, so you have to add lots of spaces between most of your name and especially the server. (For example: pe (a t) [d o t] n e t)
RANT: I realize that I've said this before, one way or another, but is it really necessary for me to say that my stories are OOC and AU? Seriously? Because I have enough faith in my readers intelligence that I think most of you realize if I'm putting Riddick together with Tom Riddle and Harry Potter, it's pretty much NOT CANON! In my opinion, anyone who reprimands me for not stating something that freaking obvious is probably the same type of person who runs up to the teacher at recess to complain that kids are running too fast or yelling too much. Because, honestly, don't you silly people realize that there's a difference between a guideline and a law, and not every law requires stringent adherence? I hear that sodomy is still illegal in some states; you gonna' try to enforce that, too? Of course, considering the size of the stick up your ass, you'd probably have to arrest yourself. Dumbass.
Blessed Be, y'all!