Invictus In the Black

16 I Am the Captain of My Soul

Jayne looked up as someone stood in the doorway of the room. Ciara was dozing on the bed next to River. Zoe and Imam had wandered off, presumably to talk or go to bed, separately he guessed. River was still wide awake and sitting in front of Riddick, her low voice reading something off her data book. It seemed to soothe Riddick though the man had barely flinched when the pen and its needle had started to puncture his skin.

Mal was leaning against the doorjamb his dark eyes curious as he watched Jayne make the ink on Riddick's skin permanent. To his credit he didn't speak, apparently having more sense than Simon in regards to disturbing their work.

Riddick never took his eyes off River but he spoke to the captain just the same. "Somethin' we can do for you Mal?"

"Finally got Simon calmed down, well mostly," The captain spoke slowly. "Just curious as to the sudden need for a tattoo."

"Knew Simon wouldn't understand," River's hand slid over Riddick's arm in light caress. "Didn't need his permission."

"No," Mal agreed amiably enough, "But a little warning to me mighta been nice, seein' as it's me Simon comes shoutin' to when you've done somethin' he finds upsettin'."

"Came in without knockin'," Riddick's deep voice wasn't at all sympathetic. "He's lucky River loves 'im, lucky I know he'd die for her, or I'da had an up close an' personal conversation with him 'bout bargin' in where he ain't invited."

"All I got outa the conversation was that River was defacing herself, which ain't as funny as it sounds when the Doc is hollerin' it at the top of his lungs whilst I'm sailin' the boat." Mal retorted shortly, "When I finally got him to make sense an' realized he was talkin' about tattoos I got a little irked."

"Didn't need your permission either," Riddick carefully turned his head to look at Mal, his mouth twisted into a frown.

"Ain't sayin' you do," Mal returned. "But lettin' me know I got a situation 'bout to cause imminent insanity is just the sorta thing I do need." He held up a hand to forestall any protests. "Look, when River an' Jayne wanted to start sparrin' and work on the things she didn't want Simon to know 'bout, they came to me and told me what they wanted to do. Didn't ask permission, didn't need it, but it was the sorta thing I gotta know since it's my boat and I'm supposed to be in charge of it."

"Captain Daddy finds it irksome to be taken by surprise when warning enables him to shorten Simon's rants." River explained to her husband.

"Didn't really expect the doc to find out, truth to tell," Riddick conceded. "In a room with a closed door, openin' it 'thout knockin's the sorta thing I'd do, not a prissy core fella like the doc."

"Well you can blame that on Serenity," Mal shrugged. "Simon's picked up a few of our bad habits."

"Richard is not used to family," River said softly. "I didn't realize Simon would become so upset. Takes longer for him to accept change."

"Thing of it is, Simon and Kaylee are the last holdouts on the boat for thinkin' River's still a little girl," Mal explained. "Inara is…well she's on the fence, she thinks River's real young in some ways, and too old in others…so she's just… Well let's just say she's workin' on findin' a middle ground."

"You and Zoe though, and Jayne, ya'll don't see her as a child," Riddick looked at his wife. "Could tell that even b'fore I got to talk to either of 'em on planet, though Zoe tried to act like River was delicate an' all."

"Simon and Kaylee weren't rightly aware when River sealed my crew away and fought an army a Reavers bare handed." Mal explained. "Inara was busy helpin' them, but Jayne and Zoe…they was both awake and aware when River went in that room, and when the doors opened and she was standin' there..."

"Dead Reavers all around her, girl was covered with blood an' gore," Jayne recalled, continuing from where Mal left off, "Just standin' waitin' for another fight, axe in one hand, sword in th' other. Purple bellies break through the wall, hollerin' and she just waits, I could see her grip tightenin' on her blades, wonderin' if she's gotta do it all again."

"Damn," Riddick stared into River's eyes. "No wonder you were so pissed Fry took your axe."

"Trophy." River shrugged.

"Yeah, well," Mal sighed, "That's one a the reasons Zoe an' me an' Jayne, we treat her like an' adult. Anybody can do that, fight to protect her family, she deserves to not be treated like she's fourteen still."

"Wish I coulda seen it," Riddick's voice was low, almost wistful as he looked at River. "Musta been somethin'."

"Well Doc didn't really see it," The captain shrugged. "An' maybe that wouldn't matter, maybe he'll always see River as the little girl he lost. She don't want him to know half a what they did to her in that place an' I cain't blame her for that. Savin' her don't mean ownership a her words an' deeds an' secrets."

"Got a right to her own life," Jayne muttered still meticulously working on the tattoo. "Girl can kick my pì gu (butt), probably take us all on an' win iffen she weren't worried 'bout killin' us."

"Also worried about injuries," River said absently. "Sorry about Simon Captain Daddy."

"Yeah well, somethin' to keep in mind next time," Mal sighed and shook his head. "Mind if I ask what brought this on?"

"River says the tattoos have a special ink, makes it easier for me to track her," Riddick muttered. "An' after hearing 'bout them Blue Hands, I'll take any edge we can get."

"Right…" Mal clearly didn't know what to make of that. "Why would ink make it easier?"

"Bio luminescence, links to the primal part of Richard's brain," River said absently. "Knows my scent already, but needs a constant in order to track through the variables. Ink intensifies natural markers."

"I wondered 'bout that," Riddick was looking at River with a thoughtful gaze only she could see through is goggles. "Know your skin, know blood and steel. The apples an' honey or cinnamon, they change, fade or get stronger. An' when you're shuttin' everythin' down, you smell more metallic. You're always blood an' steel an' silk though, that's what this'll intensify?"

"Uncertain as to the notes of perfume and how Richard interprets them mentally," River shrugged. "But the tattoo and ink will imprint my scent upon your mind. You'll always be able to find me. Jayne tracks by visual cues, signs and disturbances in the physical world. Your abilities…aren't like Jayne's."

Riddick nodded his understanding, "Long's you know I'll always find you Dancer."

"Counting on it," River looked at Jayne over her husband's shoulder. "Almost done."

"Yeah, just one last bit," Jayne nodded. After a moment he pulled the pen away from Riddick's shoulder and examined the work. "Yep, all around I'd say it ain't a bad job."

Mal looked down at the slightly swollen skin of Riddick's shoulder. The pawprint of a tiger, complete with claws, rode the dark skin. Letters teased his eyes as he stared at it, making out the word Furyan, and strange eyes, barely tinted green through the black stared out at him, strangely feminine eyes. "Ya'll wanted his shoulder to look like it got smacked by a great big cat?"

"She wears the Furyan's tiger, her mate must wear her mark," River told him solemnly.

"I cannot hide what I am," Riddick quoted with a grin, standing up to stretch with no small relief. "River, can you smear that gunk on the tat and cover it up?"

"Of course," She nodded and gestured for him to turn his back as she stood up on the bed and grabbed for the cream and bandages. Her expression was smugly satisfied as she surveyed the work before applying a liberal amount of numbing cream and covering it with a bandage.

Jayne yawned and slid past Mal, carrying the extra chair. The captain watched as River carefully set her cortex aside and began to move the other chair back to its place against the wall. Her actions were interrupted by her husband give the chair a shove with one foot, pushing it into place.

"How's your back feelin'?" Riddick asked, one hand playing with River's hair.

"Numb," River grinned cheerfully, "Should be fine tomorrow. No where near as painful as wound on planet."

Mal shook his head, "Ya'll want anymore tattoos, at least run the idea by me so I have some warnin' 'bout Simon's pendin' apoplexy." He ordered as he turned to go.

"Yeah," Riddick wasn't paying much attention to the captain. Jayne walked in and just rolled his eyes at the two of them before he scooped up Ciara and carried her away.

"Won't be long now," River whispered.

He reached out to shut the door, snapping the lock into place with a click. "Tell me how'm I s'posed to just let them take you River," Riddick muttered. "Don't think I can do it. Can't let you go."

"Won't be given a choice," River looked at him and shook her head. "They come at you sideways, hit you in the tender places, hold you still while they plunge the needle into your brain." Her whisper was tinted with remembered fear and she sighed. "Hard to trust in preparation when I know what's coming, but to do otherwise is to die of fear."

"River, you won't be with them long, I promise you that," Riddick began to strip her clothing off her body, his big hands firm on her flesh. "Want you to think though, is there anything else we can do? Anything, even if it seems stupid."

"Can try to reach Richard the way I did Zoe on planet," River nodded slowly. "Don't know if you'll be able to hear me."

Riddick pressed a kiss to her shoulder and started to tear off his own clothing. "All right then, start small, try to tell me something, and I'll listen."

"Richard's mind is not receptive at the moment," She smiled slightly as she regarded him, his nude form rampant with desire, need to imprint his scent upon hers.

"Yeah…maybe just…" His voice died in his throat as her hand wrapped around his cock, a groan vibrating through his chest. "So we'll practice after…"

"After," River tugged him down onto the bed and frowned for a moment. "Tattoos make positioning problematic."

"Nah," Riddick slid under the sheets laying on his back, and positioned her over him. "Ain't that bothersome a pain, more like a nice warm burn." He ran his hands up her thighs, spreading them apart so she straddled his body, and continued up to palm her breasts. "An' if they're comin' to take you from me we both need this."

"Yes," She leaned into his hands, her palms caressing his skin, sliding over his chest to his neck and face. Her face dips down to his, her lips brushing over his mouth, tantalizing and filled with promise. "Have me Richard," She moaned into his mouth. "Could feel you earlier, channeling pain into rage, rage into desire…"

"Ain't hard with you around," He growled wanting so bad to put her on her knees and plow her body.

She undulated against his hips and cock in response. "Yes it is," River contradicted him, her voice breathy with desire. "Why won't you do as you wish?"

"Ain't gonna hurt you our last time together…" He shook his head, scissoring her nipples between his fingers and loving how she shuddered in response.

"Won't hurt me," She shook her head frantically. "Need you to possess me, make me yours, claim your woman Richard Riddick, Furyan." River's hands teased at his cock beneath her, delicate deadly little fingers tugging at his flesh, tempting him to take her like an animal. He shook his head again, trying to think past the beast inside and she leaned down and growled, snapping her teeth in his face. "Awake the beast Richard," She snarled, "Make her remember for days afterwards the last time she was possessed by her Furyan."

He groaned as she slid her lips from his mouth to his neck and bit slightly down on his jugular. That woke the animal in a hurry, he had her off him and braced against the headboard in minutes, cock thrusting into her before she could utter a moan of pleasure or complaint. "Gonna take you so hard you're feelin' it for weeks River," He growled into her ear, nipping the tender flesh with his teeth as he pounded into her body. "My seed's gonna be deep inside you, makin' you mine."

Riddick felt her shudder, heard her cry low in her throat, and her body locked around his, fluttering tighter and tighter in an explosion of honey around his cock. He felt his seed erupt, flooding her and refused to stop moving, driving her higher into bliss as his cock worked in her again. "That's it River," He slid one hand from her hip to cup her mound, teasing and tugging on her clit. "I'm not gonna stop until you scream for me," He warned.

River gasped, moaned, and reached for his mind, felt his absolute determination, the animal inside him mad with the thought of losing its mate. Her own beast was keening in need, reaching out for its other half and she cried out as her mind found his. "Yes," She nearly screamed the word, "Yours, yours, yours...Richard!" Her body seemed to implode, compression and then a sudden burst of fire through every vein, dragging his seed out of his body.

He shuddered, gasped and felt her, the touch of her animal on his beast inside him, drawing his climax out until he thought he'd black out with the pleasure, her scream ringing in his ears. Riddick barely kept himself from biting down on her shoulder as he came, his abrupt fall so unexpected he nearly reverted to instinct again to mark her. Panting heavily he tried to hold his body away from the bandage on her back, aware of her hands reaching up and around his neck, drawing his face to hers, kissing him again.

Carefully he withdrew from her body and helped her to lie on her stomach, draped over his chest, his hand on her hip. "Somethin's a little different," He said slowly.

"My animal, reached out, touched yours…" River said softly. "Our minds…linked I suppose, desperation, fear of losing each other...our beasts...found each other."

He could feel her trying to figure out what had happened and patted her hip affectionately. "Well lets see if that makes it any easier for me to hear you," He suggested, turning on his side so he could play with her hair. There was no way he was losing her, no gorram way in the 'Verse he would ever let her go.

River sighed and laid her hand on his heart, the bruise had faded but she could feel the marks of her teeth on his skin. "Love to feel your heart," She whispered softly. "The feel of your mind...I have no words..." She closed her eyes and then opened them. "Must let go of flesh, no contact," she told him reluctantly.

Riddick let his hand slide from her hair down her side to cup her cute little pì gu (butt). "I'm guessin' I better get outa bed then," He let go of her grudgingly and rolled out of the bed, moving with unconcern for his nudity over to the chair.

River watched him walk, her eyes taking in the expanse of his flesh hungrily, her hand instinctively reached for him as he moved away. When he turned and sat, leaning forward to balance his elbows on his knees and rest his chin on folded hands, his eyes met hers and he smiled, a wicked indulgent smirk that promised more pleasure than she could imagine when he touched her again. She sat up in the bed, letting the sheet fall away from her body, exposing her skin to his gaze as he was to hers.

Riddick wasn't sure when he knew she was touching his mind, when he felt it for certain, but the sensation brought a growing certainty with it. It a breeze, like her laugh had sounded through the still cabin of the Hunter Gratzner when they were the only two aware. He felt his eyes widen and his animal seemed to stretch inside him. Her voice wasn't audible at least not to his ears, nothing stirred the air but her breathing. 'Can Richard hear her?' It whispered softly, touching the ears of the animal inside him, 'Furyan, do you hear me?'

He nodded slowly and tried to answer, letting his animal speak. 'The tiger hears his mate, does she hear him?'

River took a deep breath and nodded, her voice whispering in his mind. 'Tiger whispers, must growl to be heard firmly,' it told him.

Riddick closed his eyes and remembered how he'd felt after the coring room, the first time he and River had fought together. How he'd wanted to bend her over and take her right there, the animal straining against the man for its mate. 'Mine,' He growled the word through his mind, opening his eyes to stare at her. 'My mate.'

River shuddered as he watched, her skin flushed with desire and she moaned, a breathy little sound that sent his own blood pounding. 'Yes," her voice grew more firm in his mind, 'Belong to him, he to her, tiger to tiger, mate to mate.' Her scent filled the air, honey and blood, apples and steel and silk and he groaned deep in his chest.

He couldn't remember moving, didn't know how he got from the chair to the bed. But his hands were on her hips, and she was wrapping around him, sliding down onto his cock with a gasp of pleasure he felt in every part of him. 'Mine,' Riddick growled the word again, feeling the beast within stalk through his mind to meet River's animal.

'Yes!' Her cry was exultant as she rocked down onto him, his mind echoed with her voice, 'Mine.' River shuddered as her body exploded with pleasure, the tiger within her meeting Richards, joining. The two beasts merging into one as his fingers bit into her hips, their bodies imitating their minds as Richard's seed flooded her.

Riddick became vaguely aware that he was lying on the floor of the dorm, River sprawled on top of him. Their bodies were joined still, through position rather than his own peculiarity. River's hair was wrapped around his fist, his other hand was gripping her hip and everything felt different.

River's cheek moved against his chest, her lips brushing over his skin as she raised her head to look at him. "Richard's tiger was satisfied..." She whispered softly. "Minds joined, body was fulfilled."

"That what happened Dancer?" He muttered, "Everythin' feels..."

'Minds are still entwined,' Her voice spoke from within him. 'Furyan male claimed his mate completely, fear of her loss eclipsed self preservation,' Her whisper was slightly melancholy.

Riddick frowned and tilted his head, 'So we'll always be able to speak like this? No matter what?'

'Test will be when the Blue Hands take her,' River replied her smile adoring and filled with sorrow. 'Fear Richard will be harmed with all they'll do to her, don't want her tiger, her mate hurt.'

He growled, an audible sound that vibrated through his body and over her skin, silver eyes boring into her. His voice was audible, underscored with an echo in her mind. "Whatever this means, being able to hear you like this, I'll take it. I'll take pain and turn it into Fury to find you again River. And if this...whatever it is, our connection, if it means that when you die I die, because I can tell that's your fear, I'll take that too. Them's as would take you from me got no idea who you belong to, the nightmares I'll unleash on them. No matter what happens, you ain't ever gonna be alone again."

River blinked, the sound of his voice, the feel of his mind, walking through hers, like a tiger stalking through shadows, was incredible. "He makes her believe," She said softly. "Husband makes the wife feel safe. Furyan makes his mate feel complete. Man makes the woman feel loved."

He sat up, dislodging their bodies, hauling her up against his chest, until her mouth was under his. "You an' I, we ain't ever done, until the last breath," Riddick growled against her mouth. "Not until our hearts stop beatin', until our blood stops runnin'."

"I so swear," River's voice held a snarl of determination. "Not even death will stop us."

"Good." He grinned down at her, "Get dressed, an' we'll see if we can talk from opposite ends a the ship 'fore we get some sleep." Her dark eyes sparkled up at him and she nodded.

Riddick looked at Mal in the mirror and sighed. "Cap'n, you wanna come in 'fore I put a permanent crease in my skull tryin' ta shave an' look at you?"

The captain of Serenity inclined his head and entered the passenger dorm. "Just wanted to say that when ya'll get back your bunk'll be finished. Soundproofin's 'bout done, an' Jayne said he'd set up the bed ya'll bought." Mal's lips quirked in a wry half smile. "Had to make him promise he wouldn't test it out. Tol' him iffen he and Ciara got married I'd find a way to make him a gift a one."

River chose that moment to enter the dorm and rolled her eyes. "The girl will buy ge ge (big brother) Jayne a bed. Much of his ill-temper is due to lack of comfortable sleeping quarters."

Riddick blinked at that before he swiped the razor over his head again. "You mean to tell me that man, what makes me look puny, is sleepin' on a bed same size as River's old one?" He put the razor down and regarded Mal incredulously. "Dancer, he's pullin' my leg, right?"

"No," River shook her head as she brushed her hair out. "Serenity has never had money for luxuries."

"Gorram," Riddick shuddered. "Ain't ever been glad I weren't tall 'fore now." He chuckled as he picked up the razor again. "All right, Mal I'd 'preciate it if you'd leave, 'less you got somethin' else ta say. River's gonna be takin' that robe a hers off an' I really, really don't think you'd care for my reaction to you seein' my wife in her skin."

Mal's face was a study of horror and embarrassment. "Don't gotta threaten me with your reaction Rick," He shuddered as he pushed away from the wall and strode toward the door. "Ain't like I wanna see my yǎng nǚ (adopted daughter) in her skin."

River giggled as her captain shut the door behind him. "Richard has an odd sense of humor," She shrugged off the robe and began to get dressed.

"I ain't the only one," Riddick watched as she began to cover up all her white skin with lingerie the same chocolate as her eyes. "It's a gorram shame we ain't got time to mess you up again," He was aware his voice was coming out in a growl.

River dropped her bra on the bed and moved to slide her arms around him, her fingers slipping under the waist of his slacks. "Finish shaving, she will lay out her clothing," She kissed the tattoo on his shoulder. "We'll be quick."

Riddick wasn't sure he'd ever shaved quite so quickly, the last of his dark hair removed from his head and face before she'd even finished laying out the suit she'd chosen. He knew she'd picked the slacks and shirt he'd wear to match hers and compliment Inara's clothing so he didn't let the slacks just fall to the floor when he tore them off. River moved her underwear to the chair as well and pulled the quilts of the bed back. 'I need you to mark me Richard,' the gentle breeze of her voice blew into his mind, 'They will come for your mate today. Need your seed, your teeth, hands, mark me.'

He groaned and fell to his knees before her, gathering her into his arms, "They won't have you for long," Riddick promised. 'I will find you no matter how far away they take you.' He bent his head to her lips and kissed her fiercely. "You are my mate, and I will find you."

River sat in Inara's shuttle and held her husband's hand. Riddick's arm was wrapped around her shoulders, his other hand holding hers. He hadn't let go of her once since they'd left the passenger dorm. Inara had raised an eyebrow at the sight of them but hadn't commented on it. Mal had asked where her blades were and River had showed him her gun and her knives. Riddick had just smirked at the captain when Inara explained a sword and axe were hardly appropriate for an assistant to a mediator.

River had flatly refused to wear her axe or sword, even though Riddick had argued with her about it. She knew they 'd only be taken away. The argument had continued mentally until they'd gotten on the shuttle and she'd kissed him and asked that they not spend the last of their time together quarreling. Riddick had finally capitulated.

Now she simply sat and felt his hand in hers, his animal wrapping around hers, their minds becoming closer. They'd practiced it through the night, into the morning and now Riddick could find her mind anywhere. Her scent was embedded in his skin, as his was in her. The tattoos helped but it was the bond they'd forged during and after they'd had the designs imprinted into their skin that made it possible. She couldn't be certain if it was due to Richard's heritage, her gifts, or a combination of both, but whatever it was, the idea of losing her drove Richard to open his mind to her in a way that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

He was remembering all the places he'd marked her skin this morning, bite marks on her thighs, on her belly and how he'd kept his mouth to her breasts so long her nipples were three shades darker. River shuddered remembering all the places Richard had put his mouth before he'd slid inside her. His hand slid over her shoulders to stroke the back of her neck and River leaned into his grip. It wasn't long before they had arrived at the estate.

Riddick had decided to take his job as Inara's supposed guard seriously and had nixed the idea of the mediation occurring outdoors. Apart from the possibility of being overheard, an outdoor meeting wasn't defensible, and the gardens with their tall hedges, multitudes of flowers and gazebo were the worst possible place for them to be should something occur.

He wasn't sure how Inara had convinced the hosting family to let them use the library instead, but that's where they all were. That was something else he'd thought was funny, the estate they were on didn't belong to either of the primary parties, it was owned by a separate family altogether. Apparently the two families that were feuding had enough of an effect on business that it was in everyone's best interest to make peace.

River's voice had explained that each family would arrive with only three people in the party, they would arrive at the same time, and enter the room together. Everything was carefully choreographed so that there was no perceived bias on Inara's part. By the time the two warring families had arrived Riddick was ready to knock some heads together if they didn't get along at the end of the meeting.

River had decided she wouldn't bring her cortex along, so she sat at an elegant desk near the meeting table and took manual notes of all the agreements made. Riddick kept busy by making a circuit of the room, keeping an eye on the view from the two windows and talking with River mentally. He hadn't been able to initiate a mental conversation, but even without River speaking to him, he could find her. Hide and seek had been an interesting way to hone that particular skill.

Twelve hours after they'd arrived, the two families had agreed to a merger, a daughter of one house and a son of the other would marry in three years. During that time of courtship, the two companies would begin to consolidate their interests. Riddick found it humorous that the adults seemed to find the entire process irksome, but the eighteen year old girl and the twenty year old boy were eyeing each other with barely concealed pleasure. He wondered which had come first, the idea of the merger or the marriage.

River giggled in his mind, 'Boy saw girl, danced with her, knew exactly who she was. Girl liked the boy. Hatched a plot to pretend disinterest, continuation of the feud. Manipulated parents into insisting on marriage.'

'Smart kids,' Riddick replied concealing a smile as the families left.

"Well we are done," Inara broke into the mental conversation without realizing it. "I'd offer to take you two out for dinner but Mal wanted us back the minute we were done."

"That's all right," Riddick shrugged. "Be nice to get back and get all moved back into the bunk." He shrugged on the extremely elegant coat River had insisted upon and pulled the hood up so his face was fairly well hidden from the sun. He wasn't entirely certain why it was needful but River had been extremely insistent and when she was in that mood he'd found it was easier to just give in.

"Yes," River agreed with a smile.

"You two are such newlyweds," Inara smiled, "But thank you very much for your help today."

Riddick nodded, his lips barely curving as he looked around the paths that led to the shuttle landing areas. "It was interesting to see a war resolved without bloodshed." His instincts were screaming that something was off. Beside him River was determinedly not stiffening up, but he could smell her fear.

And there they were, standing between the three of them and the shuttle. Two men, almost cadaverous looking, with blue gloves covering their hands. Riddick couldn't help himself, he growled deep in his chest. They smelled of antiseptic and armor and pain, metallic and chemical. Before he could speak, Inara stepped forward, "You are interfering with a Companion's business. Guild law prohibits such."

"River Tam, it is time for you to return to us." They spoke in eerie unison, "Come of your own accord and there will be peace. Resist and we will make certain the blood shed is that of your crew."

Riddick growled in his throat again, regardless of what he and River had discussed, he couldn't simply stand by and let them take her. "You try to take her, just try." He stood in front of River and Inara, "I promise you there'll be blue blood on the ground."

One of the Blue hands took a device from his coat pocket, a narrow tube of metal, not more than five inches in length and River immediately pushed past Riddick. "No," She spoke for the first time. "There is no need for that." Her voice was cool and quiet, almost completely bare of emotion but still more human sounding than the men she faced. "She knows it is time to retake her place at the Academy. There is much to be done now that her sanity has been regained."

"No, River, no," Riddick caught her arm in his hand, he couldn't stop himself, his thoughts bound to hers, nearly begging. The animal couldn't just let her go.

'Must go, or her mate will be unable to follow,' River's voice drifted through his head. 'I love you Richard Baelfire Riddick. My Furyan. Find me.' Aloud she looked at the two men before her. "Her crew is emotionally attached to the girl. Attempts to find her will be made out of misguided loyalty and hope of unneeded rescue." She spun and twisted Riddick's wrist from her arm, throwing him down on the gravel path with a thump. Her foot in a delicate leather slipper pressed minutely to his throat, pushing the hood further over his face, concealing him. "She must return. Her mind and path are clear. River Tam belongs to the Academy. We are making a better world."

Inara hadn't spoken since first addressing the men, but now the companion took a step forward as River began moving towards the Blue handed men. "River, what should I tell your brother? You know he'll worry."

River stopped a few feet away from the men and their shuttle. "Tell the girl's brother that River Tam no longer requires supervision." She looked at Inara coldly her eyes so dark the Companion nearly recoiled. "She will be doing the work she is meant for."

A few more steps and she stood before the two men, able to see the blue extended into their sleeves and up to their collars. "At least a quarter of an hour will be required to outdistance their tracker's abilities." She informed them. "A non lethal form of paralysis is the most optimal method of delay."

"We can comply with that method." The second Blue hand nodded. "Please enter the shuttle and take your seat."

"Experience has shown the Academy to be heavy handed in their efforts," River retorted coldly. "This is not a tavern where blood on the ground is appropriate or expected."

"Our methods are not open for argument," The first Blue hand informed her. "Eta Kooram Nah Smech."

Riddick ground his teeth as River crumpled and was easily caught in the grip of the Blue Hands. His crouched position changed to forward motion and just as quickly was halted by the highest pitched noise he'd ever heard. He couldn't move, could barely breathe, falling forward he heard Inara do the same, every muscle stiff as if with rigor mortis. He was vaguely aware of the men entering the shuttle, River in their grasp, the door sliding shut with a metallic thud.

The engines of the Academy shuttle didn't roar to life, nothing smoked, nothing so uncivilized as even a vapor trail was left as the shuttle lifted and flew away from the estate and the two people lying paralyzed on a gravel path.


Author's Note: This actually started out as one really long story and then I realized I should divide it into two parts. So the second half is in progress and I hope you enjoy this one.

Quote sources for this chapter are as follows:

I cannot hide what I am - Much Ado About Nothing - William Shakespeare

Author's Note Revised: I'm pleased to announce that part two is complete. I've concluded it at 245 pages in Word and I'm dividing it into chapters so its a little longer than this one. Its called 'The Ghost & The Darkness' a hint at which can be found in chapter 2 of this story. It's less plot-centric and more character development but there's a reason I'm not a published author. I do think everyone who enjoyed this story will enjoy the sequel as it's a lot more of the same things we all like.

I do want to say that we all have our own ideas about Riddick and River and some of those tend to run along similar lines. Most of us seem to believe Riddick is possessive and he wants an equal, not someone he has to protect. We all have our own take on this couple and I apologize in advance if these stories or ideas seem familiar. Plagiarism is something I loathe and I would never copy someone else's work. If you truly believe I've stolen your work please email me and I will be happy to address it with you. I've read a lot of the fan fiction for this couple and I've done my best to give my own spin to common ideas.