A/N: First of all, I would like to say THANK YOU all so, so much, to everybody who has reviewed! Secondly, I am so, so sorry for it taking so long to get another chapter up, and worst of all it's not even a particularly huge one. But at least it's something, right? I'm finishing up my last semester of undergrad school, while helping my husband with his first semester of grad school, along with a ton of other miscellaneous busy crap, and my free writing time has been cut down as a result. I know that's not much of an excuse, but it's true. When I'm writing major research papers at least twice a week, the fun-time writing just doesn't always make the cut. Hopefully with classes slowing down a bit for the summer I'll have more time to write coming up soon, so hopefully it won't be such a god-awful gap between chapters again. Let me just say thank you again to everyone who reviewed, though: you guys are the reason this even got continued and posted anytime this year, sad to say though that kinda is. Every time I'd forget this story even existed or ignore it completely for too terribly long, I'd receive another review asking me to please update or telling me how much this story is loved, and it really kidna bugged me into writing more again, finally. So keep up the reviews, it makes me so happy! And it reminds me to write, lol.
Henry looked out calmly at the sitting population, musing that if there were any crickets aboard the ship, he certainly would have been able to hear them.
It was amusing, really, watching the quick, jerky motions of peoples' heads as they turned to stare at him when they thought he wasn't looking, then quickly turned their heads another direction, any direction, once he started to look their way. He caught a few people blatantly staring at him, only to freeze like a deer in headlights when they realized he was watching them stare at him. One turned to his side, pretending to be in the middle of a discussion with his neighbor, only to realize that the closest person on that side was three seats away.
They were purposely leaving the implication open for discussion. Henry was sitting next to Riddick, which was very strange and rare. Yet they weren't sitting particularly close together, the way a couple might, and both of them were fully clothed, a change of the usual for Riddick. So the nobles and soldiers were confused, and it showed.
Finally it came to a head as one man, a young soldier of low rank, stood up loudly, his chair making a shrill screech against the floor. The entire hall watched with bated breath as he turned to face Riddick and Henry with a determined, angry expression, and marched up towards their raised area at the end of the dining hall. Upon reaching it, he dropped into a short bow, then straightened again.
"What's the problem?" Riddick asked brusquely when the man didn't speak for a few moments. For a second, it looked like the soldier was going to back out, then he clenched his jaw and tightened his resolve visibly.
"Your...escort, sir," he bit out.
"What about him?" Riddick prodded, raising an eyebrow. Henry sat calmly, watching the back-and-forth with a tiny smirk at the corner of his mouth.
"Is he your lover?" the soldier demanded, apparently deciding to be blunt.
"And what if he is?" Riddick drawled, leaning forward on one elbow.
"It's unclean and unworthy of the Necromonger religion, sir. The previous Lord Marshall-" Riddick cut him off.
"The previous Lord Marshall. Seems to me that the important word in there is previous. Since I'm the current Lord Marshall, I think I'm a little bit more important than he is." Riddick stood up, ignoring for the moment the sputtering soldier before him. "Let me make this very clear, people. I am not the previous Lord Marshall. I happen to disagree with an awful lot of the shit that guy decided and did. For the record, Henry here is in fact my lover. I don't give a damn what your previous Lord Marshall said was right or wrong, as long as I'm your Lord Marshall then it doesn't matter who you are attracted to or with. Straight, gay, lesbian, it doesn't matter to me. Are we fuckin'clear?" Without really waiting for an answer, Riddick motioned towards Henry, who stood up fluidly at the unspoken request. Riddick waited until Henry stood next to him, then they went to walk down the steps to leave the dining hall.
"Filthy faggot!" the soldier screamed, yanking his boot knife from his calf and rushing the few steps towards Henry. The smaller man caught the soldier's wrist before he could do anything with the knife, twisting the man's wrist and driving the blade back towards his own side. The soldier shifted, but not before his own knife sliced a long, deep gouge in his ribcage. Henry twisted the knife the rest of the way out of the man's grip and kicked him in the back of his knee, sending the man to his knees before him.
"Please, mercy," the soldier cried, holding his injured wrist against his chest and pressing his other hand against the bleeding wound in his side.
"You're pathetic," Henry hissed. "I ought to kill you. But I won't. Let this be a lesson to anyone else who wants to try something. I'm not easy to get rid of. If someone else wants to try, just know that this is my one mercy call. Next time someone tries anything, they're being sent to the morgue."
Riddick was silent for a long minute, staring at the bleeding man on the floor. Finally he sighed and nodded, accepting Henry's judgment call.
"Get yourself to the medical bay if you don't want to bleed out soon." A few people moved to help him, and Riddick cut them off with a sharp glare. "No one is to help this man. He attempted to kill my consort, he is lucky to be alive. He certainly doesn't deserve someone helping him get around." The people who had moved sat back down, not looking happy with this decision but unwilling to challenge Riddick's authority.
The soldier picked himself up from the floor stiffly, gaze staying firmly on the floor at his feet and not meeting anyone's eyes. He shuffled quietly from the dining hall, a slow trail of blood drops following his progress through the hall and the hallway beyond the doors.
"I'm going to go to the bathroom to clean up," Henry announced to anyone who cared to listen. When Riddick gave him a questioning look, noting that Henry had only a very small amount of blood on one forearm, Henry gave him a small, discreet wink. Riddick rolled his eyes and gestured carelessly.
"Go on then, meet me in my quarters when you're done," he told the smaller man. Henry smiled and nodded, setting off towards the dining hall bathroom.
Once he had secured himself inside a stall in the bathroom, Henry cast a small glamour over his face, making it so that anyone who looked at him would see a vague face, with no ability to remember exactly what he looked like or recognize his face. With that done, he disappeared with a tiny popping sound.
He appeared again in the middle of a nearly empty hallway. Nearly empty, because it was occupied by one other person.
The soldier gaped at him slack-jawed, having just watched him appear from thin air in front of his eyes. Not wasting any time on pleasantries, Henry strode towards the man, withdrawing from his waistband the same knife the man had tried to stab him with only minutes earlier. Before the man had time to do anything to stop him or raise an alarm, he had driven the blade home in the same wound from earlier. The blade pierced through his ribcage with an audible cracking sound as the ribs fractured to allow the metal through.
The soldier collapsed to the ground, making wet gurgling noises as he drowned in the blood that was filling his lungs rapidly. Henry withdrew the blade cleanly as the man fell, allowing his weight to pull him off of it. He cleaned the blade with a quick touch of a fingertip to the side of it, then tucked it back into his waist where he had it before. With a salute to the dying man as he took his last few ragged breaths, Henry disappeared into thin air once again.
He reappeared in the same bathroom stall that he had left moments before, and immediately heard the shuffling noises of a person in the next stall. Not wanting to be conspicuous in case the person had been there long, he quickly dropped his zipper and pulled his penis through, summoning a quick pee to satisfy the curiosity of any listeners. Tucking himself away again and with a brief moment of focus removing the glamour from his features, he exited the stall and washed his hands briefly, striding out to meet Riddick in their quarters. He gave Vaako a brief nod, as the other man was standing with a small group of nobles in the dining hall still, looking to be explaining to them that yes, Riddick did have the authority to make it acceptable to have relations with one's own gender.
Once he was safely within Riddick's private quarters, Henry sighed in relief. He glanced around, seeing Riddick lounging in his favorite recliner, gazing at him steadily. He smiled softly, and walked over to him. He settled himself comfortable on the larger man's lap, smiling when Riddick's arms drifted up to encircle his waist and hold him more firmly on his lap.
"I have something to confess to you," Riddick said quietly. Henry turned himself so that he could look at Riddick, who had an unusually pensive look on his face, forehead wrinkled and lips drawn down at the corners.
"What is it?" Henry asked, genuinely concerned.
"I'm tired of all of this," Riddick admitted quietly. "I'm getting so bored with the meetings, and sick of the drama of the nobles, and god damnit I'm so fucking fed up with hearing the phrase, 'the previous Lord Marshall'," he mimicked in a high falsetto voice. Henry chuckled despite himself, and smoothed a hand over Riddick's powerful arm in a reassuring gesture. "All the nobles do is argue with me and tell me that they need to conquer more planets, they need to kill off more civilizations, they need to gather more troops and converts. I'm just so fucking fed up with it all!" Riddick growled.
"I know what you mean. Believe me, I know what you mean," he agreed. "Even killing people I don't like is getting old; they're just too easy and boring. But what can we do about it? You're Lord Marshall now, the only way to lose your job is for someone to kill you," he pointed out.
"Well, what's where we would have to get creative," Riddick said slyly.
"Fine, we'll do it."
Stunned silence filled the conference room as the commanders exchanged glances, unsure if they had really heard their Lord Marshall finally decide to stop being stubborn.
"Um, excuse me, Lord Marshall, could you repeat yourself?" one commander finally requested meekly, cringing when Riddick turned and gave him a dismissive glance.
"I said fine, we'll do it. You can select the next planet for conquering and converting, and all your other Necromonger shit."
"Thank you, my Lord Marshall-"
The commanders and other assorted officials in the room, with the exception of a very few, stumbled over one another as they tried to ingratiate themselves before Riddick changed his mind.
"There's one condition though," Riddick said casually. They all froze, and he had to bite his tongue to keep from chuckling at the caution that suddenly appeared on their faces. He waited, keeping them suspenseful just to be a pain in their asses. Thank god he would finally be getting away from these uptight assholes, he thought.
"What condition might that be, my Lord Marshall?" Riddick looked over and was pleased to see that the speaker this time was Mackenzie, the friendly and somewhat odd older commander that he had spoken with before.
"I will visit the planet first on a scouting mission. The only person accompanying me will be Henry." Immediately, sour expressions appeared on many of the faces of the men surrounding him.
"You wish to bring your...catamite...along with you?" Cornelius spat the word as though it had a foul taste, looking disgusted. In an instant, Riddick had the man tip-toeing the air, one muscular arm lifting the commander by the throat.
"How fucking dare you," he growled. "You think you can just say whatever shit you want, and I'll listen to it nicely 'cause you're one of my advisors? Think again, dipshit. I am the Lord Marshall here, and my fucking word is fucking law!" he roared. A chuckle broke his furious stare at the asphyxiating man dangling in front of him, and Riddick turned an incredulous look at Mackenzie, who stood next to him laughing quietly.
"Your decision is the one with power here, my Lord," he acquiesced, "But if you want 'dipshit' here to have any brain cells left at all, you better set him down before you suffocate the last of them," he suggested with another chuckle. Riddick rolled his eyes and did as suggested, tossing the man a little as he set him down so that Cornelius stumbled and fell on his ass, gasping and wheezing for the precious oxygen that had been denied to him.
"Just me make it perfectly fucking clear," Riddick paused for effect, looking around and making eye contact with the commanders one by one, "the next person to insult Henry will die, either by my hand or his. I'm not gonna tolerate that. Moving back on topic, I will be going planetside with only Henry on a scouting mission. You don't like it, too bad."
"Yes, Lord Marshall," Cornelius wheezed, echoed by the other commanders.
"So...what planet are we stopping at next?"
"He called me a what?" Henry laughed, shaking his head. "How unimaginative. He could have at least come straight out with it and called me your whore."
"Piece of shit really would've died then," Riddick grumbled.
"The one day I am not in the meeting with you," Vaako said mournfully, shaking his head.
"I thought you were always in the meetings with him?" Henry asked, pretending to have only had it explained rather than seen firsthand the workings of the ship and its hierarchy.
"No, today I was overseeing some of the training of the more recent recruits. It motivates and disciplines them to have a senior officer check up on them once in a while, so that they do not become sloppy," Vaako explained. Henry nodded in understanding. Vaako turned to Riddick with a raised eyebrow.
"And what is this rumor I heard regarding our stop at the next planet? It had been my impression that you did not approve of our previous recruiting methods?" Riddick chuckled.
"I don't. But this is getting too boring, at least going planet-side for a while will give me a chance to stretch my legs a little."
"We have a full-facilities gymnasium and running track, Lord Marshall," Vaako pointed out, being deliberately obtuse with a slight smile.
"It's not the same and you know it," Riddick replied with an eye-roll. Henry grinned at the banter.
"Well, so when do we actually make contact then?" he asked.
"In three days," Riddick replied.
"That should work out very nicely to give everyone in the landing party time to prep, then," Vaako mused.
"Actually, only Henry and I will be landing," Riddick grinned. "Call it a scouting mission."
"My Lord Marshall, you cannot be serious," Vaako sputtered. "You are far too important to be placed at risk like this!"
"Who the hell could take me down? Remember who it was that beat your last ghost-powered Lord Marshall," Riddick boasted. Knowing when it was a lost cause, Vaako only shook his head in defeat. "Besides, if anything happened to me, you'd make a great Lord Marshall in my place," Riddick continued casually. Vaako shot him a confused frown, but was cut off from saying anything by Henry speaking.
"So we go down in three days then," Henry confirmed. "To the planet- what was it called? – Consequence. Why would anyone name an entire planet something strange like Consequence?" he mused. Distracted, Vaako began to describe the planet's history and occupants to Henry.
"Hurry your ass up," Riddick grumbled irritably.
"Learn some damn patience already!" came the yelled response.
Riddick leaned against the doorjamb to their private quarters, watching the smaller man tying his boots. Henry had wanted to eat breakfast before they left, while Riddick had denied being hungry, and Riddick had as a result become impatient to head out.
"Alright, I'm ready," Henry finally announced, standing up from the chair.
"'Bout time," Riddick growled, and walked out of the room without another word. Henry sighed and followed him, catching up quickly. They had started a rumor that the hellhound had shredded Riddick's favorite chair and was grounded to the private quarters during his absence as a result of Riddick's ire, in order to concoct a reasonable sounding excuse for the lack of hellhound visibility while they were gone, as well as why the hellhound was not accompanying them.
"Vaako said it would be the transport ship at Dock C," Henry reminded Riddick, who merely grunted. More than accustomed to the man's mood swings and general irritability at times, Henry ignored the surly man next to him and focused on the trip ahead of them. Vaako was still not pleased about their solo trip, and neither was anyone else on the committee of advisors and generals, but Riddick's will superseded their desires in the end, and Henry and Riddick were alone. Riddick had left, in the hands of a very reluctant Vaako, a mountain of paperwork that he had painstakingly filled out in the past three days. Combined, the paperwork essentially made Vaako the acting Lord Marshall in Riddick's absence, as well as making the title permanent if anything should occur to kill or otherwise incapacitate Riddick.
The planet they would be visiting was a fairly temperate one, of a jungle-type terrain and foliage cover. It was not very densely populated, but they had decided to land their transport ship just outside one of the major cities in order to use that as an easy vantage point on the populace.
It was a short hop to the surface of the planet, only taking two hours to cover the relatively minor distance. As they approached the ground, Henry leaned forward in his seat as much as the four-point harness would allow, but could see only dense tree foliage. Riddick landed smoothly between two massive trees, causing Henry to raise his eyebrows, impressed despite himself at the casual display of Riddick's superior piloting skills. Of course, being much more talented than humble, Riddick waggled his eyebrows and smirked smugly at Henry when he noticed this. Henry laughed a little, shaking his head.
They unbuckled their harnesses as the landing ramp descended with a hiss of pressurized air and the whirring of hydraulics. Exchanging conspiratorial smirks at the successful completion of the first step to them escaping, they turned and filed out of the small transport ship, Henry in the lead.
No sooner had Henry's foot touched the ground, his eyes down on the ground where he was stepping, than he heard a cut-off shout. As he turned to see what Riddick had shouted about, he caught sight of a steady flow of blood coming from Riddick's shoulder just before a solid blow was delivered to the back of his head, and his vision went black.