Epilogue: Out Of the Jaws Of Death
A few hours later, she'd found a comb somewhere and brought it up to the co-pilot's chair. Her feet were bare again; Riddick guessed boots weren't totally comfortable after going without for so long. She'd found an oversized pair of pants but she'd made them stay on her hips with the gun belt. A man's button down shirt was wrapped and tied at the small of her back so the fabric didn't chafe under her gun and sword harness. She held another shirt as she stood beside him and he realized that she hadn't spoken a word since she'd said they had a deal.
"Don't need to talk. Can hear his mind, he is used to silence and she doesn't mind only hearing his thoughts now and then," Kitten shrugged at him. Riddick gave up as the nickname stuck in his head. She'd just have to hit him, or pinch him like she had on the bike, until he remembered to call her Lil. Or she could just take Kitten. It wasn't like she was a pet or anything. He was a big guy. He could take a punch or two. When she'd pinched him on the bike his reaction had been more amused than annoyed. Something in him, the animal probably, was strangely insistent that Kitten wasn't interested in hurting him or betraying him.
Her smile tilted approvingly, "She does not mind being called Kitten. If it is a name he thinks suits her, it is…without associations so it is a good nickname."
"Right," Riddick turned in the chair and looked at Dog, who was sleeping again, its breathing steady. "What've you got there?"
"Riddick must set the autopilot for a little while; his wound must be cleaned and dressed. Also found a shirt to replace the punctured leather skins." She held it up. "A discussion of our destination is also in order."
"Right," Riddick had stripped off the torn leather shirt and given himself a quick wash on Johns' ship. But apart from making sure his side didn't show signs of infection he'd left it alone.
Kitten gestured for him to scoot forward in the chair so she could get at his side and carefully pressed on his ribs, thankfully not directly on the wound. "Can't feel anything stuck in there," She observed. "Cauterization has effectively stopped the bleeding. Healing is accelerated?"
Riddick nodded, "Always healed up faster'n most folks. If it was infected, I'd be seein' the red streaks already. But I tend to not get infections anyway."
She nodded her understanding and produced a bandage and some salve that smelled like antiseptic. It was some dark color. She made a face as it got on her fingers but smeared it over his wound and pasted the bandage to his skin. "Probably should change it tomorrow, helps healing, keeps the skin elastic," She explained quietly and wiped the excess off her fingers with a rag that looked like her old shirt.
"So I'm fine," Riddick took a look at her. "How're your ribs? Givin' you any trouble?"
"Kept the support you made for her," The slender woman lifted the hem of the tight wrapped shirt to show him the leather he'd first wrapped around her waist. "Aids in breathing and movement. Keeps her ribs in place."
"But are they botherin' you?" Riddick pressed, not entirely pleased she hadn't actually answered the question.
"Does not have accelerated healing," Kitten was looking equally annoyed at being pushed to answer. "Not as good as he. Anticipates the fractures should be fully healed within three weeks. Less if she can get access to menders and calcium injections."
"You don't do any sorta heavy liftin' then," Riddick frowned at her. "Ain't like I don't got the muscles. An' the last thing you need is pneumonia." When she made a face he rolled his eyes, "If you're serious about this partner thing then let's at least try it? I let you poke an' prod me. So you let me pull some of the heavy weight until your ribs are up to snuff."
Kitten made another face but nodded in resignation. "Will endeavor to remember Riddick does not wish her to exert herself. No moving water tanks on her own." Riddick nodded and looked at her expectantly. Something told him that she had something else on her mind. The dark eyes regarded him and her scent changed to burning steel for a moment. That pretty mouth firmed and she nodded, "Destination," She began quietly. "She first should ask; if he has one in mind?"
"Was thinkin' to find a library of star charts. We all started out in the Alliance, thought maybe they'd have a record of Furya," Riddick said slowly recalling his thoughts before the rain had driven everything but survival from his mind.
"The libraries at Sihnon are open to all, but Sihnon is in the heart of White Sun," Kitten told him solemnly. "Riddick should not go there until we have worked on his records."
"Worked on..." Riddick repeated slowly speculation rampant in his mind. "You've got somethin' in mind?"
"There is a moon, unpopulated, its inhabitants were killed before the Miranda Wave," She began in a quiet voice. Her scent was rife with pain and determination, old and layered as if she was echoing what she'd felt then. "The man who lived there...was a genius with the cortex. Can't stop the signal. Everything goes somewhere and I go everywhere." Her words and accent had changed again, amusement and arrogance running through them. He guessed she was using someone else's words again. Kitten's mouth tilted sweetly, "Had backups upon backups. All his code, all his hardware, redundant and redundant again. Operative only destroyed one set." She shrugged at him, "A little bit of fixing here and there and the equipment is running again. No one goes to that moon. Most people think it's a dead rock, uninhabitable. Mr. Universe made them think it."
"And the folks who aren't most people," Riddick asked curiously. "What about them?"
"Operative won't go back to the place where he was forced to see a world without sin," She said softly. "Captain and crew won't return to the place where they lost the pilot, where they made their stand. No one goes there who knows about it. No one goes there who doesn't. Even the Purplebellies leave it alone.
Riddick looked at her, "We got enough fuel to get there? How far away is it?"
She knelt in the co-pilot's chair and looked at the fuel reserves, "Enough to reach it and scavenge. Kept fuel on the moon for the people who brought him supplies. Not much, but enough to get to a station. Had money, food, information, everything he wanted."
"And you wanna go there why exactly?" Riddick wasn't quite catching that part.
She smiled, "To husk the records, Alliance records. Mr. U's moon is the only place she knows with equipment that will reach into the heart of the Alliance. Can check for Furya. Check my records. Alter the recorded image so she is not matched by facial recognition programs fed by cameras. Do the same for Riddick. Minute adjustments will not fool the naked eye. But the brain compensates for irregularities. Cortex makes no such adjustments. Must be exact, ones or zeros. Yes or no. No maybe's in the cortex."
"So you wanna do some work, make it safe for us to move around the 'Verse," Riddick tilted his head as she sat back and picked up the comb. "And we might pick up some salvage and supplies so we can limp to a fuel station."
"Yes," She nodded, working the comb through the ends of her hair with an effort. "Much to do. But it must be done or we will be running from too many people. Cannot let Riddick's face be seen, he is still officially alive. She is dead, but if her face is seen she will be resurrected and the hunt will begin all over again."
He brought up the navigation screens and slid them over to her side of the console. "Well key it in and we'll get goin' Kitten."
She punched a few keys and charted the course, "Second star to the right. And straight on 'til morning."
Riddick laughed; even he could recognize the old line from some kids show. "All right, let's kick this pig." She giggled and shook her head and he gave his attention back to flying. This was really going to be an interesting few months. Who knew where they'd end up in the future?
Author's Note: So this is it! Hope you guys liked it. There is a sequel in the works as I've mentioned. It's going to take me some time to get it written so it may be a while but I've got bits and pieces and it's definitely going to have a romantic element. Also Shirah, the Necros eventually and the crew of Serenity for a few cameos if not through the entire story.
I almost feel bad for River and Riddick! I'm so mean to them.
Thanks so much for reading and all of your reviews. And thanks again to RCoots and her incredible beta-ing skills. All errors are my own. If you haven't read her stories before now I highly recommend that you go and do so now. Nice long juicy story and some great shorter ones as well that are all Riverick just how we like them.
On a different note, I've got another story that's wildly different from this one. I'm still writing Animals but the other story is pretty much finished but for editing so in a few weeks I'll start posting that. I'm happy though because today I started feeling well enough to start writing again and Animals is creeping forward. So I hope you'll keep an eye out for the new story and the new chapter of Animals. I've got a bunch of ideas that I've been writing down and putting off so I'm looking forward to making progress on all this stuff.
You know the old joke about still having your health? Yeah...don't take that for granted because its not fun (seriously) when it goes. Between work and getting sick I'm lucky I had the energy to do anything. But BtCC's chapters were all edited so I could at least post them.
So until I see all of you folks again, thanks once more for reading. Any questions you can always PM me. I do my best to reply as quickly as I can and I love to hear from you folks.
Second star to the right. And straight on 'til morning. - Peter Pan