When Riddick crosses the threshold into Underverse, he sees all.
He feels his life-force unravel, transforming itself from a tightly-coiled mass of confusion and ignorance, unfurling and exposing the hidden layers of who he is, who he has been, and who he will be. It's a bright silver line, stretching back into to the blackness of eternity, every second of the ages past leading up to this moment. The life he lives now smolders like the red-hot fire at the end of a fuse. And, like a fuse, it chases rapidly toward destruction, the end of all things. It is not something he will experience, not within this life time or possibly any. But it is inevitability itself, for even the universe will not live forever. And staring into the face of the oblivion the Necromongers serve, Riddick finally understands—
He will not surrender his soul to it as they have, but still he sees.
But more than anything, what Riddick sees with his expanding vision is himself, reflected in a thousandfold mirror. He remembers lives in which he was many things—soldier, poet, cop, criminal—but first and always, a survivor.
He sees, and for Richard B. Riddick, a man who has walked his path alone since birth, the grand illusion parts before his eyes and realization comes upon him like the crashing of a wave...
Because he sees the other threads that are intertwined with his own, and knows that he has never truly been alone.
He sees a face of wisdom that has guided him in many guises, from behind many names. Imam Riddick knew him in this life, as Shepherd in another. And in still more others as his uncle, his captain, his king. He sees the sister of his soul. She is almost always a woman, but whether she is a warrior born, a courtly lady, or a courtesan, she always carries the same strength of spirit, the same fierce dignity.
And, throughout lifetimes too numerous to count, he sees a single cord so closely entangled with his own that they are practically one, defying death and chance in order to unite and reunite, again and again. There are lives in which they do not meet, but these are unvaryingly short, miserable things, and ultimately unimportant.
It is only when they are together that they truly live.
A soldier is born into the ranks of Rome. He labors from a young age beneath the weight of a fallen honor, but his life does not truly begin until the day he meets the slave. Gentle yet fierce, and filled with pride beyond his circumstances, Esca is captivating, exotic, and yet somehow already familiar. A Celt and a Roman, honor sworn and blood spilled has named them enemies, yet it is blood and honor that forges the path which brings them together. A bond tested becomes a bond strengthened, and against all odds, they become comrades, friends, brothers...more.
On the banks of the Volga, an Arab encounters a Northman. It is unlikelihood itself that these two should meet, yet they have. More unlikely still that they should share a language with which to speak, and yet they do. And as he travels with the Northmen, all become as his own brothers in battle, but only one does he count his friend. Still, he does not understand the depth of his fear when he watches his bright-eyed Northman provoke a warrior twice his size, nor the despair that squeezes his heart when it seems his friend will falter. And when the deception is thrown off, and his friend stands triumphant, he does not understand his longing for things he cannot have and should not want.
Once the battle is over—the enemy routed, and the day lost and won—his purpose is served, and they give their farewells on the shore. Yet, while he knows in his heart that he and Herger will never meet again, and his sense of loss is deep, Ahmad ibn-Fahdlan feels not as though their tale is closing, but as if a new chapter is about to begin.
As though he were somehow aware the story had no ending.
When Javier Esposito meets his new partner, it's almost like reuniting with an old friend. Though they never speak of it, he knows with an odd certainty that Kevin feels the same. The connection sparks almost immediately, but simmers unacknowledged, though nothing truly keeps them apart but their own self-doubt. Javier is too stubborn, too concerned with machismo and reputation, while ties to faith and family are the soul of Kevin obstacles. But more than anything, and against all logic, what they each fear the most is that what they want will lose them the other.
They come to their realizations separately, but in the end they each decide that what they have is far too powerful and valuable to ignore.
Yet, while things work themselves out eventually, all that second-guessing has lost them an awful lot of time. Only seven years after their relationship begins, it is cut tragically short when Javier takes a bullet on the job. And as his life seeps out of him, Javier looks into Kevin's eyes, silently cursing every second they needlessly spent apart.
Of course, neither could have known that Kevin wouldn't survive him very long.
A girl is born into a broken world, her voice soon chased away by pain and death. Left alone, and helpless in her smallness and silence, she very nearly perishes. Her savior's eyes are a familiar blue, and his smile a comfort she is too young to remember having seen in this life—not in the dreary, blasted world that remains. She knows him, though. She cannot speak his name, but she knows him all the same.
When she finds the badge in the ruins of old L.A. she gives it to him. Shows him. She wants him to remember as she does, remember the last life in which they'd managed to come together. He takes it from her small, dark hand and stares at it for a long time, quiet, confused, and almost, almost—
But in the end he simply pins it to her hat, favoring her with a smile. As she grows older, she too forgets why it was so important. She forgets almost everything about it, save that he began calling her Star after that.
She cannot speak, and so can never tell him how she feels. She is so much younger than he, and even once she is grown he feels for her only as a brother would. Perhaps, given time, it would have been otherwise, yet in the end it is time itself that takes him from her. There are things that must happen simply because they have happened. The past must be properly written by the present if any future is to follow.
But this chance at victory has cost Star her love, and has cost her love his life, and she cries silently only because she cannot scream.
With her bright savior's sacrifice, man eventually triumphs over machine, yet the battle has wasted the Earth entirely. Technologies pioneered to enact their destruction are now reclaimed, re-purposed, and with a shaking hope the remainder of humanity's survivors leave their world-that-was and take to the stars.
And in no time, they begin to repeat their old mistakes. Humanity's instinct to conquer and control is strong, but its unwillingness to be controlled is stronger, and as always it leads to war.
In the bitter aftermath of defeat, a soldier's savage heart is tamed by the love of a man who is kindly and childish, and later undone by his loss. Riddick sees her grief transformed into rage by pain and the thirst for vengeance. He sees a new war follow the old as the broken and the outraged are drawn to dead, silent Miranda under the banners of rebellion. And he sees the warrior-widow give her life in bloody sacrifice to the forging of a new world from the planet's haunted corpse.
From the ashes of Miranda, Furya is born.
The taint that first destroyed it has been diluted over the years, but never cleansed, and generations of its people are twisted subtly by its influence. Those who succumb to the sleeping weakness are killed out of mercy, and those who remain grow stronger for it. Finally, the disease is cut from their ranks, and soon it is as all know it now—or did before his race was destroyed:
A true Furyan never lies down, and even in cryo there is a savage part of them that is ever-waking.
And Riddick sees, finally, the events leading up to the day of his birth and the death of his people. He watches his life take him from the streets to the slam. He relives the wreck of the Hunter-Grazner, and watches himself meet his wisdom and his warrior-sister once again. They survive only to part ways, but their time together, while short, is important. And when the Imam's well-meaning betrayal brings them together once again, it is as it had to be. Knowing only now how important they both were, he mourns them the more deeply, yet without their loss, he would never have found himself here.
Would never have found—
When Riddick wakes from the journey that has taken him deep inside himself and just as far without, he is irrevocably changed. He has become the Holy Half-Dead that the Necromongers will follow. Yet he is himself still, possibly more now than ever for the understanding the change has brought him. For the second time in this life, Riddick relearns his world through new eyes, but it is when his gaze falls upon his First-Among-Commanders that, for the first time, he truly sees everything he missed.
Because now he recognizes in Vaako the fierce, gentle soul that Necromonger Purification has dulled, and damaged, but could never truly destroy.
"Are you still with us, my Lord Marshal?"
And Riddick's lips pull in a smirk he has given the other countless times, for countless reasons throughout the ages.
"'Til Underverse come," is his answer.
And though the words are a much heard echo in the halls of the Necromonger fleet, Vaako offers him a confused and wary frown. The reaction is quickly schooled, the concern in his eyes shuttered. Riddick knows such emotion is considered unbecoming of the disciplined soldier that Vaako is, and to the Necromongers such a thing could only be called an inexcusable weakness.
But Riddick sees. He sees what Vaako does not...
For Riddick intends to make him see.