CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE:

What is he?

AN: to: TheCauldron: Your review was so cute! It had me grinning from ear to ear. I hope this chapter doesn't disappoint!

LAST TIME:

"I'm not gonna go easy on ya, settler."

"Wouldn't expect less, mate." Was Zekes easy, gruff reply.

Riddick gave a low growl and made his voice even lower so that only Zeke could hear. "You should've never shook my mate, Zeke. Yer gonna pay for that….."

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RIDDICK

He could still see it clearly in his minds eye; the way the Free Settler had grabbed his mate by the shoulders and shook her. It hadn't been done with cruel intent, Riddick knew that. Zeke was a good man, one who would make a good beta, but still…..

`He laid hands on my mate…..

He shook her…..`

The punch he threw wasn't light, it wasn't holding back. This was retribution.

A lesson.

Zeke had no time to dodge, no time to sense the attack no matter how he strained to make up for his lack of eyesight, and the punch nailed him right on the jaw, snapping his head to the side so fast his neck popped.

Before the settler could even think of hitting back, Riddick neatly swept his legs out from under him with a leg sweep then landed a one-two punch. The sound of cracking bone filled the air and Shazza cried out in alarm.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HIM!?"

"He's fine." The Furyan barked dominantly to still her. "A broken nose never killed anyone…..well, not the way I just did it." Riddick added, and he would know. Infact, he had done it a few times; slamming into the nose in just the right way that the bone splintered and went up into the brain, causing cerebral hemorrhaging then death.

But he wasn't trying to kill Zeke, just teach'im a lesson.

He leaned down close to the Free Settler to whisper in his ear. "You never, NEVER lay a hand on my mate in that way again or you're dead."

Zekes voice came out choked and nasally from his broken nose. "I…..I thought she…..was crazy…scare'n the kid."

Riddick growled low in the settlers ear. "The only one crazy is someone who dares to lay a hand on my mate."

Suddenly, Zekes arms shot up, attempting to grab Riddick by the head and wrench him to the side, but the Furyan grabbed the mans wrists and easily slammed them down on the ground before planting his knee in Zekes gut, knocking the wind out of him.

Then he spoke quietly to Zeke, again hiding his words from the others. "I expect you to look after my mate as you would yours when I'm not around. In return, I'll be the one guard'n yer mate when you're not near, got it beta?"

Zeke fought for breath to reply and Riddick waited patiently.

Finally, the settler managed out. "Got it."

The Furyan Alpha gave a low growl of approval and roughly helped the settler sit up. (Gentleness and careful handling was only for his mate and pup or the other children. His beta needed no such coddling and to do so would be an insult to the man.)

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CASSIE

Shazza was NOT a happy camper, Cassie didn't need her eyesight to see that; she could practically feel the womans anger and tension as if it were a tangible thing.

When the sound of breaking bone filled the air, Cassie winced but Shazza practically screamed.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HIM!?"

"He's fine." Riddicks low, dominant voice barked and she shivered at the sound of it. That voice…..she could listen to it for hours on end. "A broken nose never killed anyone…..well, not the way I just did it."

That statement made her a little curious as well as sending a shiver up her spine, and this time it wasn't one of arousal. `So does that mean he HAS killed someone by breaking their nose?` she shook her head to herself. `Come off it, Cassie-girl, you knew he was a killer even before you turned up here, but the only ones he's killed were the mercenaries that wouldn't leave him alone or those that tried to kill him first.`

She didn't think the others could hear the next words that came out of Riddicks mouth, but with her sensitive ears she certainly could.

"You never, NEVER, lay a hand on my mate in that way again or you're dead."

`Mate…He's talking about me!?` The term managed to shock her. `Does he mean 'mate' like husband/wife mate or does that just mean like pack-mate?`

But she remembered how he had let her kiss his cheek back at the ship, how he had wrapped her feet and made her that little nest. The way he had held her ontop of him in this very cell, his hands running up and down her body, soothing even while he looked for wounds or hurts.

A sudden wave of insecurity hit her hard. `But why would he possibly want ME as a mate? It's not like I'm a good fighter, I could probably never keep up with him. I'm not ugly, but I'm not exactly a raving beauty, either.` Of course, she knew she wasn't without talents of her own, she could draw, write, sing, but these weren't talents that could be useful to a convict on the run. `I'd probably just end up being baggage…..but I don't have to STAY that way…..`

It was like liquid steel had run down her spine then hardened. She would learn what Riddick taught her and try to soak up the knowledge like a sponge.

She would become a mate worthy of Riddick.

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THE JUUNANI:

DUUNGA

Duunga watched the Alpha Uplanders actions through the floating view orb with interest, sipping at a glass of wine refined from mold and glow-worm.

`Intriguing…..so the uplander has decided to begin his own training.` he watched as the uplander began to train the others one at a time, circling them.

Duunga tilted his head to the side thoughtfully, remembering how this alpha uplander had looked straight at him through the bars of its cage. The Juunani had thought that, perhaps, this uplander already knew how to maneuver without sight, operating on sound alone but, watching the uplander as he trained his 'pack', the Juunani realized that that wasn't it at all.

"…..he can see in the dark." Duunga whispered outloud, slightly impressed and very curious.

None of their previous captives had ever had that ability.

Duunga studied the uplanders dark skin, his rounded ears. He was definitely not a Juunani and none of their kind had ever mated with an uplander (the very idea was unthinkable) so a hybrid was out of the question.

`Then what is he? From what planet does he hail?`

"You look deep in thought."

The voice broke him out of his thoughts and he turned to see Gnoosh, the Leader of the Taki Tribe, the ones who had caught the very uplanders he was watching…..and a childhood friend.

He and Gnoosh had played together as greylings (the Juunani term for children) digging together for glow-worms to try to make their own wine (which the Juunani greylings were NOT supposed to have until they came of age) and sneaking into the grue pens to try to ride them.

Duunga motioned to the view orb with his wine glass. "Tell me, old friend, what do you make of this uplander?"

Gnoosh moved to stand beside him with the fluid grace of a warrior and observed the Alpha Uplander, clicking in approval. "This one will make a good contestant for the games. My warriors are already arguing over who will be the first to fight against him."

"Watch him closely…" Duunga advised. "…tell me what you see."

They were silent for a short time, simply watching when Gnoosh started and gave a sharp curse. "He can see!?"

"So it would seem." Duunga responded, finishing off his wine and moving to a small stone table to refill his glass. "What were these uplanders doing when you caught them, Gnoosh?"

Gnoosh furrowed his brow in thought. "Well, they were trying to go somewhere, that much was obvious, trying to surround themselves with those cursed lights."

"Were they carrying anything?" Duunga asked, pouring a glass for his friend.

Gnoosh shrugged. "Each had some sort of device that expelled air, our scientists think they were to help the uplanders breathe-"

Duunga nodded; that would make sense. An uplanders inferior body could not do well on decreased oxygen whereas a Juunani could not only breathe easily on low oxygen but also hold their breath for days if necessary.

"—they had some of those fire sticks" Gnoosh continued.

"I believe they call those 'guns'." Duunga cut in.

"And the Alpha one was pulling something like a sled with black and blue cylinders on it." Gnoosh accepted the glass of wine with a nod of thanks.

"Probably something they need to make a ship run." Duunga concluded. "They were trying to get off planet."

"What does that matter?" Gnoosh asked with a wicked grin. "They're with us now."

VOCABULARY:

CEREBRAL HEMORRHAGING: brain bleeding

CODDLING: to treat tenderly; nurse or tend indulgently; pamper: tocoddlechildrenwhenthey'resick.

TANGIBLE: adjective: capable of being touched; discernible by the touch; material or substantial.

CITATIONS:

Mazzolari, Christian. "How do you knock someone off their feet in a fight?." . Yahoo Answers,. 2009. Web. 17 June 2014. question/index?qid=20090714184915AAXjipy.

coddling. . Unabridged. Random House, Inc. browse/coddling (accessed: June 17, 2014).

"tangible." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 17 Jun. 2014. browse/tangible.