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Riddick had run. He'd stolen a shuttle and run. The hell if he'd wanted to be prince, king, or Lord Marshal of a fleet of half dead sheep. No matter what Aereon--the damn Air Elemental--had said about futures and odds and calculations. He'd aimed the fleet towards the Necromongers mystical Threshold and then jumped ship when they weren't looking.

Or so he had thought. Now he was on the run from both mercs, damn the Elemental, and the Necros. At first no one had come looking for him. He'd gotten a couple of days of peace, of rest, to lick his wounds. Then he'd been spotted by a merc and that's how Riddick discovered the bounty had not been lifted as promised. He'd run and for the last several weeks had managed to stay ahead of the mercs by hopping from planet to planet. He'd only had to steal a ship twice and he knew those had put him back on more radars. If he'd stolen a better ship he wouldn't be stuck running across this planet now but he'd taken the first ship at the last port that had looked ready to fly. Lesson learned.

"Stop running." It wasn't a scream but it was a harsh and demanding sound that carried on the wind as if he could feel it in his very being.

Riddick glanced over his shoulder to see the Necromonger Commander standing on the edge of the cliff that Riddick had just leapt from. The gap between cliffs was several yards long but Riddick was sure that this particular Commander could have easily cleared the distance. Especially as he was dressed like a normal hunter and not one of those half-dead things. What game was he playing and where were his soldiers?

"I'm alone."

Riddick tilted his head. Truth. One Necro soldier armed with a single pulse weapon and whatever knives might be concealed on his person. This was going to make getting off this planet easier.

"No it won't."

Riddick pulled off the goggles he was wearing. The sun had set enough, at least until he cleared this particular range of mountains, so that he no longer needed the goggles and they seemed to always fuck with his vision every time he dealt with this man. The man was dressed similar to Riddick--cargo pants, shirt, light-weight jacket. The other difference Riddick could see from this distance was the man's complexion didn't look like death warmed over and the eyes were no longer sunk in and red. The slight breeze caused the Necro's hair to shift which meant the beads and braids must also be gone but that was only a guess and Riddick tried not to deal in guesses and speculations. Those often got him in places he didn't need to be.

"Vaako," the man said and when Riddick didn't seem to understand added, "It's my name."

Riddick growled. The man was a Listener.

Vaako raised an eyebrow and shrugged. "You project when you're not fighting, as if you've not had enough time to learn calmness."

The Necro was too calm for Riddick's taste. "Shouldn't you be Lord Marshal or something by now?" Riddick questioned, trying to figure out Vaako's game plan.

"And be killed in my sleep by my ex-wife? No thank you," Vaako answered. "Besides, that was never my path."

"Hell if it's mine."

Vaako snorted and instead of arguing with him about returning to the Fleet said, "I know how to get the bounty off your head."

Riddick growled again. "What, by you bringing me in. Never happening."

Vaako laughed and Riddick growled again. That man always set him on edge. His presence had itched at the back of his mind from Day One.

"If I had wanted to bring you in I'd have shot you before you leapt over the ravine. And if I wanted you dead I would have shot you as you jumped."

Riddick snarled. "What do you want, Necro?"

"Not a Necro any longer, you saw to that," Vaako replied, turning on his heel to walk away. "We need to talk; unless you want to run some more?"

Riddick didn't say anything and the Necro continued to walk away. "How will I find you should I want to get this bounty off my head?" That was all Riddick was really interested in he told himself.

"You're the Furyan, you figure it out," Vaako called back without turning around.

~~~***~~~

Vaako continued to walk away. He was tired of chasing after Riddick, and the Death Squad his ex-wife no doubt had sent after Riddick would be here in the next day; if not sooner.

His marriage had been more than just a political move to get him into Zhylaw's inner circle; it had also been the best place for him while he searched for a way to end the Necromonger fleet before they got to his home planet. For all of Zhylaw's seemingly otherworldly powers the man never could see what was really standing in front of him; not since the moment the Elementals had made their precious prediction of his greatness and his defeat at the hands of a single alpha male Furyan.

If Zhylaw had been able to tell, Vaako would have been dead or turned into one of the Quasi Dead. However, hiding in plain sight had caused stress on his body and Vaako had known his time was running out, and then standing on Helion Prime he had felt it--a Furyan mind so much stronger than that of the Purifier. It had almost shone brighter than a sun.

It also came with the snooping mind of an Elemental. He'd had to stay away from her because there was no doubt in his mind that she would have squealed about what he really was and he couldn't have that.

When Riddick had run, the Elemental had proclaimed that Dame Vaako, now Dame Tharin, would become not only the next Lord Marshal but the first female Lord Marshal. The person who had always been destined to lead the Necromongers to greatness. However, this could only happen if Riddick could be sacrificed to the Threshold. The Elemental had also prophesized that there would be no stopping the Necromongers after that.

He'd risked it and done a scan on the Elemental. He'd waited until they were in a crowd and then ripped as much information from her wind-filled mind as he could. What he'd found hadn't been good, but it had been very useful. From the moment he did the scan he knew he would be on a timetable to get off the ship. He also knew he needed to make it hard to follow him.

Vaako had moved through the ship like a ghost after that. The top two Death Squads had been found dead--one in their sleeping chambers, the other in a depressurized cargo compartment. It left a handful of other Death Squads still operational but their training and success rate was nowhere near the two that had been lost. Commander Toal had also been found dead, killed with his own knife. The same Toal who had been sleeping with his ex-wife since before she'd become Vaako's ex-wife.

He'd done as much damage as he could before he'd run. It would look like there had been dozens of people involved in a coup. It had happened during Kryll's bid for the seat of Lord Marshal but that one had successfully gotten Kryll the seat previously occupied by Baylock.

Vaako blew several of the armories around the fleet and jettisoned escape pods from every ship. Purification chambers had been damaged and half the ships would not be moving until their systems had been repaired. He'd even gone so far as to make sure a burned corpse would be found wearing his armor and just enough blood evidence to trick the Lensors into saying it was him. At least until the bodies could be further investigated.

Timing his departure had been everything. He'd waited for his wife, the new Provisional Lord Marshal, to order the escape pods destroyed and then stolen one of the fighter planes and taken off in the mêlée that followed.

He'd brought the Necro plane down in an uninhabited area of a planet that had a spaceport. He'd blown up the plane, making it look as much like a crash as he could knowing that eventually the fleet would track the fighter. He'd left the borrowed armor inside and watched it all explode through a set of binoculars. Then he'd hiked to the nearest town. After a quick change of clothes he'd purchased a first class ticket on the first ship out and spent the following three days meditating and clearing his head. By the time he disembarked he looked almost normal. Well rested, but still pale which most would take for him being a spacer. The purification marks would take longer to fade but his hair and a jacket covered those for the most part.

Finding Riddick had been a simple matter of fitting in with the locals on one planet and going into a bar known for being a merc hangout. He never used his skills outright, as he didn't want to get labeled or made, since it could get him killed or sold to the highest bidder, he'd used them just enough to play cards, win currency and scan for information. He did this on each planet while he tracked Riddick. It didn't take him long before he'd had enough currency to buy a ship and repair it and not have to book space on passenger liners. It made tracking Riddick easier and faster when he didn't have to rely on other ships to get him to the next planet. His skills had finally led him here and at the exact time as Riddick.

Now he just had to wait and see if Riddick took the offer. Four hours later his wait was over.

"Explain," Riddick's voiced carried through the dim lighting of the main cabin.

Vaako didn't move. He kept his feet propped up on the table and his arms relaxed across his chest. Not wanting to spook Riddick into rabbiting. He'd left the lights dim to give Riddick an advantage of sorts.

"What exactly would you like me to explain?" he asked.

~~~***~~~

Riddick took another quick look around the small shuttle. He stood just within the main hatch, his back to the side wall so he could take everything in. His Furyan senses were telling him there was no one else on the shuttle. He'd spent two minutes sizing up Vaako's ship and knew there were two bedrooms, a single refresher unit, and a storage area directly down the short hall behind him. The main cabin area included the sitting-dining area where Vaako sat, a small galley-kitchen and the flight deck was in front of him.

"The bounty?" he said, asking the question but not coming any further into the room.

He'd had more dreams of Shirah since he left the Necros. Her cryptic talk of Furyan history and control that he'd tried to ignore had come rushing back when Vaako had walked away on the cliff face. Leave it to a ghost to try and teach him something.

"She's not a ghost."

"Would you stop that," he growled.

"You were actually better at keeping your thoughts to yourself until you thought of her," Vaako answered. "But she's still not a ghost."

"The bounty!" Riddick demanded.

Vaako used his feet to push the chair back on its track and turn it so he could put his feet on the floor. "Have a seat, Riddick, this is going to take a few minutes."

Riddick didn't move.

"Fine," Vaako said with a shrug of his shoulders. "Your ghost is already in the process of buying out the three bounties on your head--including the one from the Elemental. You're free to go," Vaako added. "So, go."

Riddick breathed in. Truth. The Necro was telling the truth or at least something he thought to be truth. "Why?" he asked.

"Why what?" Vaako asked in return. "Why is she not a ghost? Why is she paying off your bounties? Why am I here and not there? Why did that Elemental tell Zhylaw a Furyan would be his downfall? Why didn't I shoot you? Why didn't that Wrath energy of yours kill me like everyone else? You have to be more specific."

Riddick growled to himself. Vaako was being difficult on purpose, was trying to push him. He just didn't know why.

Vaako looked up at him. "I do owe you an apology though while you think about which of those why's you want me to answer," he said. "The child, she was not supposed to come to the throne room. I can only guess the Elemental finally convinced her or Zhylaw otherwise. Though I did not know what game Aereon," he continued, pulling the name from Riddick's surface thoughts, "was playing then."

He didn't give Vaako a chance to finish before he had the other man by the throat and pinned to the bulkhead wall. He glared directly into Vaako's face. "You don't talk about her," he said.

Riddick didn't back off even though he noticed Vaako didn't look panicked or afraid. Most people by now would be scrambling to get away or pissing in their pants. He tightened his grip around the other man's neck and squeezed. "Understand," he said through clenched teeth.

Vaako lifted his hand but not to his or Riddick's throat instead he laid it over the handprint on Riddick's chest and pushed. Vaako's mouth never opened but Riddick could clearly hear, "Let. Me. Go." in his head. The words were accompanied by a shove that came from no hand but an unseen force.

Riddick let go and rocked back a step or two. "You are not just a Listener," he accused, hands clenched into fists. He hated not knowing what was going on and with this man, right now, he didn't have a clue.

Vaako gave a small shrug. "You are the one who assumed that," Vaako said aloud, his voice a little rough. "And don't touch me again or..."

Whatever threat Vaako was going to make was cut off as an emergency klaxon sounded from the flight deck. Riddick watched as Vaako spun on his heel and took the four steps up to the cockpit. Punched in several commands and watched the heads up display.

Riddick watched as an image appeared and calculations of distance and time popped up on another screen.

"Time's up," Vaako told him without even turning around. "You're either staying or going. You've got a minute to decide. Door's still open."

Vaako punched in a series of commands and Riddick felt the engines start to hum to life.

"What's coming?" Riddick wanted to know.

"Necomonger Death Squad."

"For you?"

"Only if they've already found out I'm not dead."

"For me then?"

He watched as Vaako's fingers paused in their typing and turned his head to look at him. "You haven't grasped it yet, have you? Dame Tharin needs your body and that of Zhylaw's to claim the throne and the title, as well as pass through the Threshold. Without both she's a pretender to the throne. Provisional Lord Marshal will only get her so far. Remember, keep what you kill." Vaako turned back to the nav system. "Are you staying or going?"

Riddick climbed the few stairs to the flight deck and sat down in the other command chair.

~~~***~~~

"Excellent choice," Vaako said, already closing up the ramp and pressuring the ship before sitting down in the other pilot chair. He input a code and waited for the port's flight command to respond.

"Go for flight command."

In a perfectly cheery Carrelon accent Vaako said, "This is the Eidyia, registry Zulu Three Seven Alpha Five Five Five launching from pad number twelve."

"Roger, Eidyia. We hope you enjoyed your stay on Shileth. Please come back and visit us soon."

"Thanks for the hospitality," Vaako replied, the Eidyia already in the air and banking to the left in a trajectory that would have their exit hopefully masked by the other departing and arriving ships.

Vaako piloted the Eidyia through the atmosphere and out of Carrelon space before inputting a set of coordinates and putting the ship into hyperspace. He stood to leave the flight deck and was stopped when Riddick caught his wrist. He glanced down at the fingers wrapped around his wrist and then up into Riddick's eyes. The grip wasn't tight and he could pull his arm free with ease but he stood there waiting.

"Where are we going?" Riddick asked, fingers still lightly wrapped around Vaako's wrist.

"Metis," Vaako replied, pulling his arm free and going into the small galley. "Tea?" he asked, calmly.

Vaako sensed Riddick stand and follow him and wasn't surprised when the other man leaned against the counter next to him. "No one goes there," Riddick said. "It's just as dead as Furya."

"Neither planet is dead, Riddick," Vaako said, taking his tea to the table while leaving out the supplies Riddick would need to make his own cup. "Just healing." He did not mention that Furya would require decades longer to finish mending and then it would still need a little more time to fully support human life.

Watching Riddick make tea was interesting to say the least. Like most Furyans he relied on his heightened senses --one of the qualities that made most of the known universe think of Furyans as a feral, slightly animalistic people. Riddick sniffed the tea leaves and then ran the tips of his fingers through the leaves. For a man who had never lived with his people, Riddick was quite adapt at using the innate skills he'd been born with. Coming to some type of positive conclusion, Riddick put leaves in the brewing holder and poured in hot water. The water bubbled and washed back and forth over the leaves until Riddick liked the color and pushed the button that would hold the leaves in a strainer while the liquid drained into his cup.

"If you are not a Listener, are you some type of Elemental?" Riddick asked, joining him at the table. There was a look on Riddick's face that Vaako knew was Riddick trying to hide his dislike for Elementals. He tried probing more to see what Riddick thought of him but he could get nothing. It wasn't that Riddick was able to truly hide his thoughts or emotions. No, it was more like Riddick had no opinion right now other than that of suspicion and curiosity.

Vaako laughed. It was probably the first time since he'd started his charade with the Necromongers that he'd laughed. It felt good. "Hell no," he said, through his laughter. "To the Universe at large, I am what they would call a Listener. Nothing more and that's only if they realize it. Most think we are a thing of the past or bought by the wealthy as pets. No one has ever been able to truly keep a Listener as a pet. It's a risk few are willing to take, as never waking in the morning tends to be the outcome."

There was a quiet low growl that escaped from Riddick's lips as the man's silver eyes glared at him. Then again, maybe Riddick was a quick study because it was getting harder to read him.

"I told you that I was not just a Listener." He took a sip of tea trying to figure out where to start. It would have been easier to just drug Riddick and transport him to Metis but there had been a part of him that had not wanted to do that. It was the same part that recognized who and what Richard Riddick was from that first meeting on Helion Prime. "My father was Furyan," Vaako answered, deciding to start there.

Though by the grunt of acknowledgment by Riddick maybe it wasn't a start.

"I got that before we took off. You didn't fall on Crematoria like the rest. Did the Purifier guy know?"

Vaako shrugged. He honestly didn't know. "He knew there was something wrong with me towards the end," he replied, hands wrapped around the warmth of his tea cup. His body still adjusting to no longer playing the role of Necromonger. "The Purifier gave up being Furyan when he helped Zhylaw destroy Nephel; no matter what he felt at the end of his life."

Nephel had been a Furyan colony that had been destroyed five years ago. Luckily they'd been able to get most of the colony evacuated before the invasion, but Nephel had been victim of one of the Ascension Devices and nothing of it remained.

Shortly after that Vaako had taken up his mission. Infiltrate the Necromongers and wait for the Alpha that the Elementals were sure would come. That the Furyan Queen was sure would come. Vaako had used his talents--even the one he thought of as a violation--to push memories into certain Necromongers minds. It had been such an easy thing to do as their minds had no resistance to such things after rounds of Purifications. He'd made up a history of having been on the ships for years longer than was true, and found an ambitious woman who could get him closer to the throne.

"Then I waited," Vaako said, finishing all he was going to say for the night.

~~~***~~~

Riddick tilted his head. Vaako had told him the truth. Riddick hadn't always been able to sense that. If he had he would never have gotten thrown into his first slam. No, it was a skill he had picked up after meeting the Imam and then spending the next five years alone and watching people. The year on the frozen wasteland had helped. Maybe it had been a skill he always had and had never been trained to use. He might never know. Just like waking up with his silver eyes.

"Who is the Furyan Queen?"

Vaako glanced up at him from his tea cup. "You already know the answer to that question Riddick," Vaako answered, standing from the table. "We'll hit Aodh in ten hours. You can have the room on the left. Try and get some sleep."

He watched as Vaako washed out his cup and then entered the room on the right. Vaako hadn't told him to not change the navigation path or to not kill him in his sleep. Riddick ran his hand over the back of his head before getting up and going to the nav computer.

The ship's system wasn't coded to prevent him from changing their direction. It was all laid out there. Their path through various quadrants all to throw off the Death Squad and anyone else who might be behind them. Seven stops altogether and then Metis where this Furyan Queen would be along with the answers to his questions.

Riddick rubbed at his chest, at the hand print that glowed brightly to his eyes when he thought about it. Vaako had said he knew who the Queen was, but outside of the Purifier and now Vaako he had never met another Furyan. If his suspicions were right the reason Vaako had apologized for Jack's death was because she was Furyan --either by both parents or one. But that still didn't answer his question and Riddick didn't want to put the one singular group of thoughts now bouncing around in his head into words. It would make it real.

Was the Furyan Queen his ghost? Was his ghost his mother? Was his mother the Furyan Queen?

He pushed back from the nav system and backed away from the flight deck, almost falling as he hit the edge of the steps. That alone told him he was done with it for now. He spun on his heel and all but stomped to the refresher unit. He was going to shower away the grime from running and then try and get some sleep. He was hoping sleep would wash away the questions and allow him to forget where his thoughts had taken him mere moments ago.

Hours later, when he woke from what was probably the best sleep he'd had in years --no dreams, no mercs in sight-- the troublesome thought had not left his mind as he had hoped. He sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed at his temples. The thought had not left and was even clearer and glaring at him more than the night before and now he had more questions. Those questions were making him angry because each question led to another and another and they were all based on two simple questions: would his life have been different and why hadn't she come looking for me?

When he left the small sleeping chambers Vaako was sitting at the table eating breakfast. There was another plate in the warmer and the tea setup was still out.

"You have more questions, that I still cannot answer," Vaako said, putting his fork down. "I can only hazard a guess which may or may not help your mood."

"Stop reading me," he said through clenched teeth.

"I am not," Vaako answered, tearing a piece of bread in half and taking a bite. "I am only guessing by your mood that you believe you have figured out some of your questions which perhaps spawned more questions. The directions which your thoughts probably went and the answers you might further seek. At least they would be the answers I would seek if our places were reversed."

Riddick ignored the other man as he made his tea before grabbing the plate of food and sitting down at the table. He was having issues with trust. Trusting himself chief among them. There was part of him that told him he could trust Vaako --whatever he was-- and then there was the part that didn't want to trust anyone at all because it just led to more grief and trouble.

"What's on Aodh?" he asked, sniffing the casserole like dish on the plate. It smelled like something from a memory. It smelled of spice, egg, potato, and cheese.

"Absolutely nothing but desert and a space port that doesn't care who comes and goes and keeps no records," came the answer as Vaako stood and tossed his dishes in the recycler. "Fuel and time to change the engine's emission profile."

"Then?"

"Fionn, a moon in the Neas System," Vaako climbed the stairs to the flight deck. "But I'm sure you already looked at our path."

Riddick grunted. He had and he had noticed that while Metis was listed it was the only planet whose coordinates had not actually been entered into the nav system. Though Riddick was sure the computer could plot the path if it had a nav system old enough to have the planet in its history. After all, the entire Phrixos System was believed to be a dead system. The coordinates would most likely have to be entered manually from their last stop.

~~~***~~~

Vaako hadn't been crazy enough to leave Riddick alone with his ship on Aodh, Fionn or Zephyr. The Furyan might not have actively wanted him dead but he wasn't sure that Riddick, given the opportunity, wouldn’t have stolen the ship and left him stranded.

Without going into cyrosleep the journey to Metis with the extra precautions to throw off anyone that was following them was going to take another month and a half. The food and water supplies had to be refreshed. A planet-side check of the engine and weapons system would be beneficial as well; though a spaceport around a giant gas giant wasn't exactly planet-side, they couldn't wait another two weeks.

"We going into the actual port or just docking for refuel?" Riddick asked.

Vaako glanced over to the co-pilot's seat where Riddick sat with his feet propped up on the turned off control panel. Even though the window screens were darkened Riddick had his goggles over his eyes. They needed to find him a pair of dark glasses because the goggles were a little suspicious. And maybe Riddick stealing the ship at this port wasn't actually a concern. Maybe it hadn't been a concern since Zephyr.

Zephyr had not been the safe landing zone that Vaako had planned for; any other day it would be just another backwater world where the biggest excitement was a new shipment of cattle. Granted who could have expected half a dozen merc teams being there looking for Balic --a convict with a record actually longer than Riddick's and an almost equal payoff-- when they touched down.

Before the first merc, who had recognized Riddick, could signal his comrades Riddick had silenced the man and then pulled Vaako into an alleyway as an alarm had sound. The merc had been wearing a life monitor that had triggered as soon as the man's vitals started to inch towards death. Vaako remembered Riddick pulling him into the alleyway, their bodies pressed close as they watched the other mercs come running. He hadn't even tried to break Riddick's hold on him and what he had sensed from the Furyan had confused him. He remembered the feeling of Riddick whispering into his ear. More importantly he remember the heat of Riddick's body especially where Riddick's hand had gripped his waist.

Another merc spotted them as they moved around the buildings trying to get back to where the ship was docked. A brief fight between the merc's crew and himself and Riddick led to him and Riddick fighting back to back. In the end the merc crew had lost. Better yet, he and Riddick had run into Balic and left him trussed up for one of the other merc crews to find. Then they got off planet as fast as they could.

That had been a week ago. Now Vaako glided the Eidyia through the turbulence the giant solar gas giant created around the space port.

"You going to keep a low profile?"

Riddick didn't answer but Vaako sensed the other man's amusement so he took the non-response as a yes. Now he just needed to figure out what he was feeling for Riddick. It would be easier if he could actually get a feel for Riddick's thoughts but the other man had been a quick study on how to keep his thoughts to himself and how to not project.

Vaako had sat the man down three days into the journey and run him through an exercise that was taught to children on Metis. Within a day Riddick was an almost quiet hum unless the other man wanted him to sense something. It made Vaako wonder just how dangerous Riddick could really be if he had more training, but definitely understood why the Elementals would have wanted Riddick on the throne. If only Riddick hadn't been as headstrong, because the Furyan Alpha was not as feral or pliable as the Elementals had hoped. Riddick would not be controlled.

"The ship needs to be run through a full scan and clean," he said, bringing the Eidyia to a gentle landing on pad four. "I'd rather we do it than someone from the station." The we can't trust went unsaid but he figured Riddick would understand. And that was another thing, some time in the last few days he and Riddick had started to trust each other.

"Food stores?"

There was half a loaf of bread they had both been avoiding and a couple of emergency rations left. This stop had really become necessary. "One of us can go once we start flushing the system. I don't think we should leave the ship alone."

Riddick grunted.

"And I am not paranoid any more than you," Vaako replied, right eyebrow lifted just a little. "Cautious is all."

~~~***~~~

"I thought you weren't going to read me?"

Vaako made a face that clearly asked Riddick why he was even asking that. "I didn't have to," Vaako said, and Riddick was almost positive Vaako had rolled his eyes. Riddick was coming to realize that Vaako could be a little sardonic.

"I'm learning to understand what those grunts mean in Riddick-speak," Vaako finished not even trying to hide the sarcasm as he stepped onto the ship's ramp.

Riddick watched the other man as he walked down the ramp in front of him. To a normal person Vaako would look like any other traveller. To Riddick the man looked like a hunter. He still wasn’t sure what to think of Vaako. He wasn't sure he ever would. He just hoped he never had to kill him. If he was honest he would rather do other things with him.

"So what," he asked laughing and followed Vaako down the ramp. The station was old but looked well maintained and they should be able to do any repairs that were needed and purchase supplies. They would be back in space in less than ten hours unless there was something seriously wrong with the ship. "I have my own language?"

Vaako snorted. "Yes."

Riddick grinned. "Go open the credit so we can start the system clean. The waste flush, water refill and battery recharge will all take the longest." He didn't think the engines were going to need any work. Vaako seemed to have a good ship that he'd kept maintained before picking him up.

He walked around the ship, doing a visual check of the paneling and weapon arrays. He was finishing up the check of the undercarriage when Vaako returned. Riddick didn't know what to think of the fact that he could sense Vaako's approach without having to see him; or smell him.

"Anything?"

"No." Riddick liked that they could communicate with simple, short sentences and understand each other when they wanted. Was there anything wrong with the exterior of the ship? Nothing visual.

He turned to watch Vaako go to their docking pad's control station and start typing. Slots in the flooring started to roll open and the hoses contained within were released. Riddick grabbed the tools from just within the ship that would allow him to remove several sections of the paneling that covered the ports the hoses needed to connect to.

"Requests?"

So Vaako was going to trust him with his ship and do the supply run while he worked on the ship repairs. Riddick thought about that for a moment and he knew that he'd have done the same thing in Vaako's place. Less time on the station if they split the duties. Plus, he was beginning to trust the other man. "Dried fruit mix and coffee if you can find it," he answered. Then tossed in, "And bread that doesn't look like it's contemplating eating us instead of us eating it."

Vaako chuckled lightly and nodded before turning on his heel and walking away. "Vaako," Riddick called and waited for the other man to turn around and look at him before he finished. "Be careful," he said, then turned around and went back to work without waiting for a response from Vaako. Hell, he wasn't even sure why he had just said that. Trust did not equal care for.

Riddick worked on the ship while watching all the people at the other landing ports. Most looked to be people who were just trying to get lost. Space dwellers who only came to populated areas when supplies were needed that they couldn't manufacture or grow on their ships. He knew the Necros hadn't taken into account the elimination of the thousands of space dwelling ships in their goal to rid the known universe of all humans. He wasn't even sure if the Elementals counted those people as human any longer, as most had never stepped foot on a planet. That was a conversation to have with Vaako later.

An hour and a half into the refresh he'd spotted a group that was definitely a merc crew. He'd gone inside the ship to run a diagnostic while they'd been roaming the platforms. It had eaten up another hour that he could have used to start the water recycle but he wasn't going to risk being spotted with the ship locked to the platform and Vaako in the markets.

The next thirty minutes he'd spent wondering why Vaako mattered. He hadn't cared about anyone this much since Jack. Even the Imam hadn't ranked this high. Riddick had thought of the Imam as an acquaintance and someone he could trust; maybe even a friend. Jack had been complicated. He had thought of her as family --someone to protect, even when she wanted more. He was beginning to think of Vaako as a friend. He already trusted the Listener far more than he had ever trusted anyone and that had been a hard thing to accept when that realization had hit him.

What he knew now was that he wanted more. A lot more by the way his thoughts made the images in his mind play out. He just needed to figure out how open Vaako was to that plan.

~~~***~~~

The Eidyia left the space port as silently as it had arrived and for two days the trip had been quiet. He and Riddick had danced around each other clearly avoiding discussing the same thing which had become clear just hours ago.

He had managed to restock the supplies and add a few extras as he'd walked through the market. The station had been better stocked than Vaako would have first thought. Then again, it was a central trading port for those who didn't want to go planetside. The whipped chocolate confection that he'd just finished was among the extras he had brought back. The sweet confection settling him in a fashion he hadn't needed in more than a decade. It had reminded him of the home they were slowly traveling to. The home he had missed over the last few years and was trying to save.

Vaako wasn't sure how the Elders were going to react to the actions he had taken while living as a Necromonger, but he could guess. He'd managed to keep the Necro fleet from returning to the Phrixos System and Metis but in doing so had helped kill and convert a half dozen planets. Those planets had not been heavily populated, at least not until Helion Prime when he hadn't been able to push the new Navigation Technician in the wrong direction. Maybe that had been fate, since he'd found Riddick.

He resisted the urge to lick his fingers of the last remains of chocolate, instead wiping his fingers on the cloth he had brought with him from the counter. He would accept the Elders' judgment, whatever it was, if he managed to survive all this. Right now his major concern was two fold. What to do about his evolving relationship with Riddick. And then there was the more important question, just how much information had the Necro Death Squad managed to send before their ship had been blown apart and would it lead another of the squads to them.

The latter they would have to deal with if it came. No, when it came. He knew Dame Tharin wouldn't give up; not while she was still breathing. They were going to need to make a few more hops in their flight plan to draw out anyone else who might be following them, or to throw them off their trail.

"We have unfinished business," Riddick said coming down from the flight deck and headed straight toward the press full of coffee Vaako had left for the other man.

"Our business nearly got us killed."

"Do you believe that?" Riddick asked, turning to look at him. Vaako watched as the other man breathed in the rich aroma before taking a long pull from the cup.

"No," he answered and Vaako thought that right there was the real problem. Being caught with your pants down by the enemy should have bothered him but all it had done was piss him off. He'd been enjoying Riddick's mouth on him. Enjoying the spikes of pleasure the likes of which he had never felt before and knew that it had just been the start of what he would have felt if they'd been able to continue.

Vaako tried to forget and focused on his own cup of coffee. His thoughts strayed again to what would have happened next had the Death Squad not fired across the bow of their ship. Him stretched out on his bed, Riddick above him. In him. Both of them inching towards climax. Vaako put the coffee cup down. Those were more than just his thoughts. He glared up at Riddick. He hadn't realized he had dropped his mental shields that low around Riddick.

"You are learning," he said and left it at that.

Riddick was still leaning against the kitchen counter like it was just any other day but Vaako could clearly see that Riddick was hard and ready. Riddick took a sip of his coffee and smiled a very lecherous grin as he pushed his mug and the press into the warmer for later and walked toward Vaako.

"Keeps me from having to tell you what's coming next."

Vaako licked his lips and stood. Meeting Riddick halfway. Taking Riddick's mouth with his own. Hands grabbing Riddick's waist, fingers digging in tightly. "Who says you get to be on top?" he breathed out when he broke the kiss, his hand reaching down to grasp Riddick's cock and he wished that neither of them had clothes on.

Riddick pushed into his hand and somehow managed to get around his mental shield and projected the same images. He groaned as Riddick grabbed his ass and massaged it while licking at his neck. Vaako couldn't think and he knew just a moment ago there had been something important, but he would worry about that later.

~~~***~~~

The beds in the sleeping chambers were a little narrow for two grown adults to share if they both wanted to stretch out on their backs, but Riddick had always been more comfortable sleeping on his side. He slept with his back up against a wall leaving his hands free and a weapon within quick and easy access; not that he normally ever slept hard enough to need one. Now though, there were weapons within easy reach that weren't all his and his arms were around another person.

He'd never had sex with anyone like Vaako. Didn't know if it was always that intense because the other man was part Furyan or a Listener or some combination of the two. Or, if it was just Vaako himself. What Riddick did want to know was if he was always going to want to pull more and give more to his partner of choice because they were both Furyan. Not that he had plans of giving up Vaako anytime soon. The man was his perfect partner in everything.

That had been proven when they landed on Werther to lay a trap for the other ship that had been following them since the jump from the Riniago System.

Vaako had brought the Eidyia down on the darkside of the planet with a "let's setup camp" and it had worked. They had locked the ship down, created a campsite and lit a fire. He'd even managed to quickly hunt down one of the local rabbits and had it cooking over the pit. There were sleeping palettes and everything. If Riddick hadn't known better, and had come across the site at any other time he would have thought the site real and not a perfectly laid trap.

The whole scene had made it look as if they hadn't noticed the tail; as if this was all normal business. Neither one of them had been in armor; just clothes that were easy to move in as they sat by the fire. Then they had been surrounded by twenty Necromonger warriors and the fun had really begun.

"Our Lady Marshal wants them alive," Commander Scales had said, coming into the light cast off by the fire. "She wants the traitor on his knees."

Riddick had glanced over at Vaako and saw the other man shrug.

"We just need one of them and their ship," Vaako sent.

Riddick had shrugged and returned the thought of whatever. Then the fighting had started. Vaako got off two clean blasts with his pulse gun before moving to hand-to-hand. The Necros may have wanted them alive but the same couldn't be said for he and Vaako wanting the soldiers alive.

He and Vaako had moved around each other as if they were long time dance partners until there were eighteen dead bodies on the ground and the two remaining Necromongers weren't going anywhere.

Riddick had felt revitalized. His body humming.

"She'll still get you on your knees, traitor, there are more coming," Scales had challenged.

Riddick had yanked the commander up by the neck and whispered, "The only person he's getting on his knees for is me." Then snapped the man's neck.

"Was that necessary?"

"Yes," Riddick said, dropping the body and walking over to the fire pit. The rabbit had been a little overdone but fresh meat had done them both good. "Besides you said one, and the one you have under your foot is still alive."

He had walked over to Vaako and kicked their prisoner. He hadn’t wanted an audience as he’d made Vaako howl in pleasure.

That had been the first time that Vaako's shields had slipped completely. After that, Vaako had become a drug and a challenge of sorts. Making Vaako completely let down his shields, letting his thoughts in, and the sheer pleasure they both received from the feedback loop in doing so was indescribable. Just the thought of it was making him hard again.

Vaako shifted next to him. "Knock it off, Riddick," Vaako told him, rolling over to look at him. "Or I really will go into the other room. We need sleep."

Riddick growled and pulled Vaako to him.

"You are mine," he said.

"Whatever," Vaako murmured and reached up to touch Riddick's chest. "Sleep, Riddick," Vaako said softly and that was the last thing Riddick remembered until they were both waking up several hours later.

~~~***~~~

"Don't do that again," Riddick told him at breakfast the next morning, even though Riddick clearly looked and felt more rested than he ever had before.

Vaako smirked slightly. "I doubt it would have worked if you hadn't needed the sleep."

He went back to his food. "I don't know what's going to happen when we land," Vaako admitted, but he wasn't going to admit to being afraid. There was a good chance that once they landed on Metis he would never see Riddick again.

The Death Squad soldier had known more than Vaako thought the Necromongers would. The data cells and the Quasi Dead on the ship had both been very beneficial as well. They now knew the path the Necromonger Fleet was taking and that Dame Tharin had killed two other Elementals on the behest of Aereon. Until that moment Vaako hadn't known what side the Elemental had been on besides her own. The Elementals had their own plans for the Threshold--that's what Vaako had learned from Aereon before he'd left the Necro fleet. Aereon had now secured her place in the Necro fleet and would make a much better Necro than Vaako ever had. But just by taking out the Death Squads he and Riddick had confirmed they were both alive and that would keep Dame Tharin in power. It would drive the fleet into finding them if it meant that success and the Threshold for all was within reach.

"Eat breakfast, Riddick," Vaako said, pushing away from the table. "You have a long day in front of you."

Vaako climbed the stairs to the flight deck and manually entered the coordinates for Metis. The ship gave a small jerk as it jumped into hyperspace.

Neither man said a word for the rest of the flight except when Vaako had let Riddick drag him back to one of the sleeping chambers where he had ridden Riddick until they both couldn't hold back any longer and came hard enough that Vaako let the feedback loop carry them both back to hardness. To where Riddick had flipped them over and pounded into him, marked him. It had left them both sated and blissed. It had given Vaako a chance to forget for a time that he would have to face the Elders while Riddick was reunited with the woman he was positive was Riddick's mother.

They had both showered and dressed before the Eidyia had even entered the Phrixos System. Both sat on the flight deck lost in their own thoughts until the Eidyia dropped out of hyperspace.

The landing on Metis two hours later had been tricky. It wasn't the landing so much that had been the problem as it was not being vaporized as soon as the shuttle had passed the outer planet of the Phrixos System. Proving who he was and why they were there without being destroyed had been time consuming and stressful. Then there had been the two debris fields they had to navigate through upon reaching the middle of the Phrixos System --the remains of two planets that had collided millennia ago-- before even Furya or Metis came into proximity had just added to the stress. Then there had been the fact that everything but sight-to-sight comm relays were being blocked proved just how serious the Phrixos System was in keeping the myth of a dead system alive.

Being surrounded by gunships was not among his favorite things but stopping Riddick from going with instinct and firing had been the only thing that had kept Vaako relaxed and entertained. And that, hadn't seemed strange to him at all.

Vaako set the ship down on a raised landing platform that was instantly surrounded by soldiers and two airships.

"Warm welcome," Riddick commented even as he leaned over the console to look out the window, the dark glasses Vaako had given him, in place.

"Just another precaution," he said, leaving the flight deck, the hatch already opening and the ramp lowering to the ground below.

He took his first deep breath of home as he walked down the ramp, arms loose at his side.

"You will surrender your weapons before being taken forward," one of the soldiers announced.

Riddick's growl seemed to vibrate in the air around them. Vaako sensed one thing from the soldiers around him, Alpha but they didn't lower their weapons.

Vaako grasped Riddick's wrist. "It'll be okay," he said. "Let us meet the Furyan Queen."

~~~***~~~

The first thing Riddick realized when he stepped off the ramp was that the light from the Phrixos System's sun did not bother his eyes. That if he took off the glasses he'd be able to see even if he did have to squint slightly at the peak of the sun's light. He had thought it was just the tinted glass on the Eidyia. It made him wonder if he'd need the dark glasses on Furya.

"Leaving them on would be for the best," Vaako sent to him. "And watch your thoughts, there are other Listeners. I can already feel them."

Vaako let go of his wrist and he growled again. He was not liking this plan and he knew there was something Vaako wasn't telling him. He watched as Vaako carefully removed the pulse gun and the two knives he carried and handed them over to one of the guards. Another guard waited for Riddick to do the same.

"You are a weapon as much as those blades you carry," came a soft female voice that he was positive was only in his head, but he recognized the voice as belonging to his ghost.

"Shirah," the voice said softly. "My name is Shirah, my son."

Riddick didn't like having someone in his head unless it was Vaako and tried to push the woman out. He felt a soft laugh and then she was gone. Vaako was looking at him patiently and he knew that if he turned around and went back into the ship that Vaako would come with him.

He pulled the set of ulaks from his waist and another knife from his boot. "I want those back undamaged," he said, and his voice was not pleasant sounding and spoke of someone's death if the blades were damaged or went missing. "Let's get this over with," he added and walked straight through the crowd with Vaako at his side, neither waiting for the guards to lead the way.

~~~***~~~

For one brief moment Riddick had dropped from his thoughts as if a steel door had been slammed into place and he knew that it hadn't been Riddick's doing. Whatever the growing connection between him and Riddick was, it had come very close to being severed. Just as quickly as it had been gone it had flared back to life with what felt like the softest of apologies. In that moment Vaako had realized there was more to the Furyan Queen than he'd been allowed to see or even know.

He worried now for Riddick. What if this Queen was not his mother?

"She is," Riddick said softly and it had been a long time since Vaako had unintentionally projected his thoughts to anyone.

He saw Riddick glance his way before giving him a slight shrug. It was Riddick's way of telling him many things but mainly that he didn't know what to think about the situation.

At the top of the steps of the main hall they were separated and escorted to different chambers. Strategically speaking it was not something either man wanted, but Vaako knew Riddick would need time alone with his mother. He knew that at least half of the Council of Elders would be waiting for him; maybe a Furyan or two as well since Vaako's father had been Furyan, and this issue did involve both people --who Vaako thought had slowly started becoming one people long before Zhylaw had entered the Phrixos System.

He wasn't disappointed when he was shown to a chamber with a curved raised platform with seven individuals sitting behind it. Vaako would have to look up to see into the eyes of five of the Council Elders and two Furyan Elders as he answered their questions.

"Vaako, son of Aella and Vidar, we welcome you home to Metis and thank you for your service in returning the lost Furyan Alpha."

Vaako stood there, his eyes the only part of him moving as he met the eyes of each man or woman on what he knew was the panel for his trial.

"It is time for you to be judged."

Vaako didn't drop his shields. He knew this was where the idea for the Greater Quasi Dead had come from. That as a child Kryll had once seen several Listeners judge a suspected felon of his crimes. That it had made an impression on the child and when Kryll had become Lord Marshal he'd taken that knowledge and used it for his own gain. You might not ever be able to own a Listener without them destroying you, but you could weaken them to a point that they might just give themselves over to a barely there existence thereby trapping them --a skill Kryll had learned.

He braced himself as they hammered against his shields while asking him questions. They kept pushing at him until his shields were no more and then he was grabbing at his head and falling to his knees. Images, screams, smells all coming back to the surface.

Vaako wasn't sure when the screams became his own.

~~~***~~~

Riddick was feeling twitchy and he couldn't pinpoint what was causing it. It was not meeting his mother for the first time face-to-face because he was still shoving that to the back of his mind to deal with later. She looked older than she did in the dreams. Her hair starting to gray with age, but she still looked strong, ready to fight. She reminded him of Jack. He hated that.

He hadn't said a word to her yet. Just stood several feet in front of her while the other people in the room whispered back and forth as the Furyan Queen stared at her long lost son. Riddick could see the family resemblance in how they both stood, both observed without moving or talking, but it was really the eyes--the shining silver eyes that told him the truth.

"Walk with me, my son," she finally said, quieting the murmuring voices and waving off any objections that might be made.

They walked through the building until they came to a recessed section with a skylight and benches. His mother sat facing the three painted walls. "This is the history of Furya after its encounter with the Necromongers," she said, quietly. "After Zhylaw took the prophecy of one Air Elemental as truth."

When Riddick looked closer he could see that it was dozens of scenes all merged together making a progression through time as he moved his eyes from left to right. One of the small paintings was of a very young Shirah. Her stomach cut open and bleeding out, and with a shadow of a baby a little older than a newborn lying nearby. He spotted her image again standing in an open field surrounded by graves. The shadow of a child following her. It was the image from his waking dream.

"I come here to think. To remember," she offered. "I came here to try and reach out to you. It worked," she said, lifting her hand to touch his face but Riddick moved out of her reach and she slowly dropped her hand back to her lap. "You have the eyes and the wrath which has only grown stronger with the rage of our people after the attack."

Riddick still said nothing. So she had been looking for him.

"Someone stole you away," Shirah replied, her expression turning sad. "We might not ever know who or whether it was to keep you safe or not. I can only guess it was a Listener though as your father's name was Richard and we had named you Riddick."

Riddick didn't turn away from the murals when he finally spoke. "My first family was very kind." They had been what Riddick would now consider normal and loving and not something he'd had since and maybe that's why he always risked helping a family when they crossed his path. "But they died and the streets became my home for a while."

He felt her moving behind him and still did not turn around. "When did you know I wasn't dead?" he asked instead.

"When the bounties grew enough for system-wide warrants. You looked so much like Richard at that age," she moved so that her back was to the wall and if he moved again she would be standing in front of him. "We tried to find you after Hubble Bay and the Correctional Institute but you always escaped before we could get there. Then it just seemed better to not corner or approach you directly. I wanted you to come home willingly."

Riddick said nothing for several minutes. The twitchy feeling getting worse and it was taking more and more of his concentration to work around it. "This place is not for me," he finally said.

"It is not Furya," Shirah said, quietly. "But Metis could be your home."

He continued to look at the mural. "I'm past the age for a mother," he said a little more roughly than he had intended.

Shirah didn't flinch but gave a strained laugh, her voice was very sad when she spoke. "I'll never be too old to be your mother, but perhaps never knowing about me would have been better for you."

"I would have sent Jack to you!" And that was a hard thing for Riddick to admit. That while he might not have come to Metis after having been thrown into his first slam he could have--no, would have--sent Jack here. Of all the deaths he had been responsible for that one hurt him the most and here was a woman who could have kept Jack safe.

Thinking about Jack made his thoughts instantly turn to Vaako and that was when what was making him feel twitchy came fully into focus. "What is happening to Vaako?"

"He is being judged," his mother said, her expression and eyes flashing something that Riddick thought looked like disapproval even if he hadn't been able to hear the same in her voice as she spoke.

Riddick turned his head, his silver-eyes boring into his mother's own. "Explain that one to me," he said through clenched teeth; already knowing he was not going to like the answer.

~~~***~~~

Vaako was on his knees, blood dripping from his nose when the room came back into focus.

"You are once again blocking us," one of the Elders spoke. "You are holding things back. Release your mind. Your judgment is not over."

He knew he was protecting his moments with Riddick; holding those tightly to himself while the Elders judged his actions while he was with the Necromonger fleet. He let them have free rein to those actions and his thoughts and reasoning to why he had allowed such atrocities to happen, but the last few weeks with Riddick were his and his alone.

In what felt like a bright flash in his mind's eye he realized that it wasn't his shields they'd hit against. No, somehow the connection he and Riddick had was now two ways and almost tangible--like a cable connecting them together. It was stronger and Vaako doubted even the Furyan Queen could block it again. The Elders had not hit against his threadbare shields but against the shields he'd taught Riddick how to build weeks ago. Vaako's mental shield was slowly repairing itself but somehow Riddick was protecting him and what he was getting from Riddick right now was that the first Alpha Male the Furyan people had seen in more than a hundred years was pissed and was just outside the doors.

Vaako struggled to his feet just as Riddick slammed the doors open. He caught the surprise from the Elders--from all seven of them.

"We're leaving," was all Riddick said, his eyes scanning the room again and then settling on him. "Can you walk without falling?"

Vaako's first thought was clearly probably not as the room was barely in focus but had at least stopped spinning. He never got to his second thought as Riddick was instantly there supporting him. The guards who had followed Riddick and the Furyan Queen into the room stood frozen at a signal from Shirah.

"Alpha, you should not be here," one of the non-Furyan Elders said from his seat. Whatever thought Riddick had at the moment sent two of the Metis Elders flinching back in their seats.

Then one of the Elders snorted in amusement. Coul was the one Elder who had not been as intrusive with his scans, seemingly the only one to recognize what the others on the panel should have, that their agent had done whatever was necessary to keep the Necros away while still hunting for the missing Alpha. Vaako also knew Coul was like him--part Furyan. "I think," Coul said ,"if you continue to tell young Riddick where he should and should not be, we will discover whether he really can scoop your organs out with your tea cup."

Vaako did not mean to but he laughed. "He's done it before," he said, his voice clear yet rough sounding from the screaming he had done earlier.

~~~***~~~

Riddick was pissed. The hell if he was going to help these people with their plans to get rid of the Necros, even if they rescinded the payment on the bounties. He didn't know them; he didn't care about them. He and Vaako were leaving before he really did try to kill someone.

"You don't mean that," Vaako said and Riddick wasn't even surprised that the two of them could now communicate telepathically, as the feelings that had been making him twitchy were now gone. He suspected the ability was related to his mother being an Alpha or the Queen.

"Both," Vaako suggested out loud before grasping Riddick's wrist.

Riddick knew instantly that Vaako's head felt like a pulse weapon had gone off inside his mind, that he was tired, but yet somehow relieved.

"They have no right to judge you; they sent you," Riddick thought.

Again Vaako answered out loud, "It is a way for them to feel better about what they did."

Anyone listening would have a hard time following their conversations from here on out. Riddick shrugged and led Vaako down the hall to the mural. He knew his mother and her guard were following, but no one else.

"No one else will bother you for a while, my son," Shirah said. "You have given some of the Elders things to think about."

Riddick grunted, not deeming a true verbal response worth his time. He led them to the furthest bench in, the one closest to the mural that showed his, he guessed, kidnapping, and waited for Vaako to settle in the spot he knew his mother normally sat. Her guards had not come into the recessed room but had taken up positions on either side of the hall leading to the area.

"Are you a Listener?" he finally voiced the question to his mother that he'd wanted to ask since he and Vaako had walked off the Eidyia and she'd spoken to him in his mind.

"No," she said, sitting down on the edge of her bench at an angle that allowed her to watch both Vaako and Riddick. "The talent of telepathy runs in families on Metis, but it is still rare. Maybe one in every ten thousand truly possesses the talent. The talent for empathy is higher of course but the reading of emotions requires great skills. On Furya both talents were very rare; one every few generations unless they'd had family from Metis."

Shirah paused. "The exception was always the family lines of the Alphas. We are the leaders of our people, of our armies. It was a way to lead great battles back when Furya was still a feral planet. Then it became a way to lead when we became unified and started travelling away from our lands, away from Fuyra."

Riddick watched Vaako and not his mother. "Was Riddick's father an Alpha? Because that's not," and Vaako stopped his question. "He was a descendant of one of the Queens."

Riddick saw his mother smile softly at his...at Vaako before answering. "Yes," she said.

Her grin widened as she turned her focus on him. "Your Mate," she said softly in his head. "He is yours, you are his. Bound whether either of you ever admit it out loud."

Shirah's focus returned to Vaako. "Your Vaako is a product of a very special bond," she said speaking softly so her voice did not carry. "One who would have been a Metis Elder and a great Furyan warrior from one of the Queens' lines. He has much power, as do you, my son. You must decide your futures."

She stood. "Come I will show you to the chambers that I had set a side for you; unless you would prefer your ship."

Riddick didn't even think before he answered. "Ship."

Vaako would have shaken his head but the thought of that action made him queasy. "We will take the chambers, my Lady," Vaako said politely and just as quietly.

Riddick glanced at Vaako and growled out a sound of displeasure but followed Vaako's lead.

~~~***~~~

Even with his head pounding Vaako gave an easy chuckle at the sound Riddick had made. "I know that doesn't make you happy," he said, standing, his head feeling only slightly better. The thought of throwing up in a corner because the world was spinning in the wrong direction was all but gone, and that was probably only because he was leaning against Riddick. "But if we go to the ship, as soon as I'm asleep you'll take us from the planet."

Riddick didn't say anything and Vaako smiled at that. "You're simply speaking Riddick again," he said, unconsciously leaning even further into Riddick.

The sound of Shirah's soft laugh broke both men from their stalemate. She stood and began to guide them through the hallways. They entered a lift and traveled nearly to the top before Shirah led them to a set of double doors.

"When you are ready to talk, just call for me, I will hear you both," Shirah said, and this time Riddick let her fingers graze softly across his cheek.

Once inside the large room, Vaako sensed Riddick relax as soon as the doors were closed and locked behind him. "You are both trying," Vaako said, walking towards the large window that looked down on the city and out towards where the Eidyia sat. "She does not expect you to run up and hug her, just letting her touch you was enough. It was proof to her you really are here."

"I'd rather not be..."

"Don't finish that, Riddick. I know better than anyone else you wanted answers. You just don't want to deal with all the other shit."

Riddick said nothing but Vaako felt the frustration rolling off the other man. "I would like to eat," he said, trying to break Riddick out of his thoughts. "Then a shower to try and wash away the others that were in my mind."

"You need to sleep."

"That is one trick, I will not be teaching you," Vaako replied, carefully walking to the small table and the food that had been laid out for them. He took a sweet roll and a small portion of the poultry dish that was a staple of the city. He hoped by eating and showering he could relax and be rid of the remainder of the aches. The rehashed memories were not going to be so easy to be rid of; nor he guessed should they be.

He watched as Riddick sniffed several of the tins he knew contained various teas and coffees that Metis had to offer before settling on one. Within moments the warm scent of chocolate and coffee surrounded him as Riddick sat two steaming cups on the table.

"The judging is a sham to make themselves feel better," Riddick told him, taking a small sip of the drink. He knew Riddick didn't like overly sweet things but the coffee must have met with his approval as he watched Riddick continue to drink; this flavor had always been one of Vaako's favorites and he took in the calming aroma.

"They sent you there," Riddick said, after a moment. "Knowing what you would have to do. Knowing that killing would be on the agenda."

Vaako nodded. That was all true. "A few think I should have sacrificed myself before following through," he said and instantly felt Riddick's anger. There were thoughts of doing more than just ripping them to shreds.

"Then you would not have completed their mission," Riddick ground out between his teeth. "They cannot have it both ways and you read them while they were reading you."

"But the Necromonger fleet would not be pursuing us," he said, not confirming the end of that statement. Not needing to either.

Riddick shrugged. "Did they think finding me would be easy? That it wouldn't have brought Zhylaw or the Necros to their front door as soon as he realized that there was a male Furyan Alpha? You jumped off that balcony more for yourself than anyone else."

Wasn't that just insightful coming from Riddick, and he didn't mean that in a bad way. It had taken Vaako being on his knees being judged to fully come to that conclusion himself. Vaako had been tired--knowing that if he spent any longer with the Necros there was a good chance there would be no coming back from it--and then the answer to finally going home had been standing below him about to die. So yes, he'd jumped. Vaako rubbed at his forehead. "I think some thought I would fail. Hoped I would fail. The Necro fleet was going in the opposite direction. Had no reason to circle back."

Vaako said nothing else while he finished his small meal and drank his coffee. The headache slowly vanishing but now he could feel how tense his muscles were; feel the complete strain on his body the judgment had caused. His mental shields were back up but they were now so interwoven with the ones he knew were Riddick's that there would be no separating them. Not even Shirah would be able to cut one from the other as she had almost done when they first arrived less than ten hours ago.

They were bound to one another. It had probably started the moment he had jumped from the balcony. While he could keep his thoughts to himself if he wanted, there would always be an emotional connection between them.

He avoided looking at Riddick. It was something that was normally discussed with a bondmate before they bonded, not just going ahead and doing it. He wasn't sure how Riddick was going to react.

~~~***~~~

Riddick watched Vaako closely as the other man finished the light meal and coffee in front of him without ever looking up at Riddick. He let Vaako have his silence and the time to think through whatever was going through the other man's head. Then watched as Vaako stood and went to the private bathing chamber. His mother's words came back to him. They were bound to each other. On any other day and with any other person that would have pissed him off; but not today and never with Vaako. Riddick wasn't sure but he had the feeling that neither of them had started the bond but both of them had subconsciously been searching for something and wanted it when they had found peace with each other.

Coming to the conclusion that he didn't really care who initiated it, he stood up from the table and followed Vaako's path into the bathing chamber, shedding clothes as he went. Vaako was his. Would be there at his side, to watch his back, to keep him from being alone.

He stepped into the shower behind Vaako and wrapped his arms around the other man and waited the few seconds it took Vaako to come to a decision. He got it when Vaako relaxed back against him and felt his mate's mind settle. If they were truly bound to one another then he was going to take care of the one thing in the Universe that was truly his, and the rest could be damned.

"You don't mean that either," Vaako said softly.

Riddick ran his hands up Vaako's chest and then down his sides before turning Vaako so his back could rest against the warm walls of the steam shower. "I do," he said, taking Vaako's mouth in a kiss that stopped either man from speaking out loud.

He followed the kiss with another at Vaako's neck, leaving a trail of marks from neck to just above Vaako's heart before trailing even lower. Vaako's hands lightly grasped at his head trying to pull him back up. He took one last lick of Vaako's cock and then let the other man pull him up.

"We need to talk," Vaako said, his hand sliding down Riddick's face to rest lightly on his shoulder.

Riddick moved in and kissed Vaako sending the only thought that mattered as his hands maneuvered Vaako higher up on the wall so Vaako could wrap one strong leg around his upper thigh and the other just slightly lower. I want this. I want you, he thought, aligning their cocks and sliding his hand over them both.

Vaako moaned and hitched his body at a better angle so Riddick could slide his fingers into Vaako's warm passage. The liquid soap on his fingers gliding in and out smoothly had Vaako's breath catching. Riddick felt the sting when Vaako bit his shoulder and chose that moment to slide his cock into his partner's slick passage.

He felt Vaako once again relax and give himself over, and if they had thought the bond between them was strong before, now it was even more so. Right now Riddick thought they could take on the Universe and bring it to its knees.

Vaako's laughter rang in his head until they screamed out as one when their climaxes rolled through them both. The feedback from their bond caused them to climax a second time, almost causing them both to fall to the bathing chamber floor.

It was several minutes before either man really moved from where they were leaning against the wall. Both were thankful they were on a planet with good water resources or the water hitting them would have been very cold by now.

"Next time we do that on a horizontal flat surface like a bed."

The grin Riddick gave Vaako promised no such thing except that there would be a next time. Vaako retaliated by licking at the bite mark before sucking at the water that was pooled on top of it. Riddick hissed out in pleasure.

"You will be out as soon as you lay down on that bed," Riddick said, trying to calm his breathing as Vaako released his shoulder only to lap his tongue up to Riddick's neck.

"Our dreams should prove interesting now," Vaako whispered, stepping under the water jets and quickly washing off as he had originally intended. Vaako stepped from the shower and dried off, repeatedly running the towel over his long hair to get most of the water out of it.

"Will they?" Riddick questioned, swiftly following Vaako's lead in showering before turning off the jets and grabbing a towel.

Both men walked to the bed without bothering to dress and climbed in under the sheet. "We'll just have to see, won't we?" were Vaako's last words before succumbing to the much needed sleep.

~~~***~~~

Vaako woke slowly. He was more relaxed than probably he'd ever been and it was something new. He had never known how stressed he had felt before; even as a child. Riddick's arm was tightly wrapped around his waist and he would have to wake the other man just to get off the bed.

Even though Riddick was still asleep his arm tightened around Vaako's waist at the mere thought of Vaako leaving the bed. It meant Vaako was staying put unless it was a necessity. Vaako thought about shifting around to be a little more comfortable and the arm loosened a little to allow him to reposition. As soon as his leg was comfortably resting over one of Riddick's and their bodies aligned, the arm tightened slightly and Riddick released a soft breathy sigh without waking.

Vaako drifted off back to sleep only to wake some time later as a hand lightly slid up and down his cock. He moaned as his cock filled and jerked in response, but this time he was going to be the one to drive Riddick insane.

"According to the warrants," Riddick said huskily from sleep but already rolling onto his back and bringing Vaako with him to lay on top. "I'm already insane."

Vaako didn't say anything; neither of them really needed to speak aloud to each other anymore. They did it because they wanted to. He took Riddick's cock in his hand and started long, slow slides up and down as his tongue dueled with Riddick's until he had the other man almost panting. Then he slid down the bed and took Riddick's cock in his mouth. Swirling his tongue around it, only to create suction moments later that had Riddick arching off the bed with a harsh cry while Vaako slid fingers into Riddick's hole, preparing him.

There was no more going slow. There was need and want and now and Vaako couldn't figure out whose thoughts were whose as he began thrusting into Riddick. Riddick grabbed at his hips, fingers digging in, urging Vaako on. The thoughts changed to more and harder and faster. Their bodies were slick with sweat before either man came, as if the temperature in the room had grown warmer than it was. When they collapsed against each other there were several minutes as both their bodies spiked and trembled with pleasure almost bringing them both back to hardness before either could catch their breath.

Riddick rolled them so Vaako lay with his back on the bed, and he straddled Vaako, riding him until they were both coming again; their bodies seemed to glow in a strange silver light that slowly faded as they separated. The handprint on Riddick's chest still glowed softly as they both laid there, catching their breath. When their hearts were beating in sync the handprint stopped glowing.

"If we'd done that on the ship," Vaako said, looking over the room at the broken bedside table and shattered glass, "we'd have destroyed it." The flames of the meditation candles across the room were dancing happily though neither of them had lit them.

Between last night and this morning, and the dreams they had shared, the bond between them was fully active. Settled around them, linking them together until one died and took the other with them.

"That's not going to happen," Riddick said, rolling to his side and laying a hand on Vaako's chest. "We're going to die fucking in our nineties."

"Eloquent."

Riddick laughed and Vaako could feel the humor across his skin. He shifted to a sitting position and looked over at the candles.

"Put them out," Riddick whispered into his ear, having shifted around to sit behind him.

"I didn't light them," he said, but even to him the words didn't sound true. He knew he hadn't gotten up from the bed to light the candles but there was a memory of thinking of flames while he pounded into Riddick. Of watching them dance in his bondmate's silver eyes.

Vaako felt Riddick rest his chin on his shoulder before settling his arms around him.

"You told me you were more than a Listener."

He had telepathic, empathic, and some telekinetic powers, but this was new. "I meant I was half Furyan. Neither of us is an Elemental. And fire is," he started to say looking at the flame as it seemed to dance on an imaginary breeze.

"What did your grandmother teach you?"

How did he know? Oh yes, one of the dreams from last night--a memory of his past. They had each shared memories. He had seen his grandmother do this. She had taught him how, but it was so long ago.

~~~***~~~

Riddick waited. He felt Vaako's chest rise and fall and his heart beat slow as he gazed at the flames. "Think of your time with her," he said quietly, eyes on the candles. Through Vaako he had remembered what it was like to have a family. They had shared their pasts in a way that had made it feel like the other had always been there--that they had always walked this life with each other.

The first one went out with a soft hiss as if someone had licked their fingers and then pinched the wick between them. The second candle went out the same way.

Riddick licked at the side of Vaako's neck and the third candle's flame grew brighter, taller. Vaako turned his head and glared at him. He grinned back. "Think of Zhylaw," he said.

Vaako's glare turned to a look of disgust and the candle's flame exploded, engulfing the wax and floating even as smoke began to stain the wall behind it. "Think of it like a blade," Riddick said, kissing Vaako. It can be a tool, a weapon or decorative. Deadly or Beautiful.

Or both, came Vaako's reply silent reply.

The flame hovered for a second longer before slamming into the room's unlit fireplace. The fire roared for a second and then died down.

Riddick laughed into the kiss before pushing Vaako back onto the bed and stretching out on top of him. I wonder what else we can do? he asked, silently. Though he wasn't expecting an answer as he rubbed their lower bodies together.

Since last night he'd felt like a horny teenager. Vaako must have as well because he widened the V of his legs so that Riddick could settle in closer. Their hard cocks were already slick with precum, and Riddick moved his body slowly, sliding his cock up and down Vaako's until Vaako dug his fingers into his waist to urge him to move faster. They were howling out their completion in moments.

He moved to lay next to Vaako and used the sheet to clean them both.

"We can't keep that up," Vaako said, his breath still ragged. "I think our bond is making up for lost time."

Riddick laughed. "We need to fight," he said and his comment caused Vaako to roll to his side to look at him. They might be inside each other's heads but it was good to know that they could still keep things to themselves because he liked keeping Vaako on his toes. He liked feeling the sensation of Vaako being puzzled.

"We need to know how we've changed," Riddick answered the unasked question, his fingers massaging Vaako's hip.

"See how well we work as one," Vaako replied.

Any other plans they were about to make were interrupted by a knock at the door by a palace guard. Riddick glared at the door and thought go away. What they heard was the door vibrating slightly and the guard stumble on his feet.

The door stopped vibrated as Riddick sat up, his hand dropping away from Vaako's hip. Vaako grabbed his hand, and the door started to vibrate again.

Vaako laughed and told him to stop.

"Come," Vaako said, keeping hold of his hand and pulling him to the bathing chambers.

Riddick spared the door one last look but he could sense no other people on the other side. As a matter of fact the entire hall now seemed to have quickly emptied. They had wanted Vaako back in the room to complete his Judgment, but that would never happen. He'd kill all the Elders in their sleep first. Leave both populations to fend for themselves.

"Murder later, my mate," Vaako told him, stepping into the shower. "My feral, insane, Furyan mate. The Universe can be ours later."

Riddick pushed Vaako into the shower wall. The water coming on because Vaako had thought it on.

Yes, Riddick thought, his hand sliding over Vaako's wet skin, ours.

~~~***~~~

Sitting in the mural room, Shirah smiled. The guards had reported the sounds of breaking glass and the scent of smoke followed by the trembling door from the Alpha's chambers. She had not batted an eye at the news, having already felt it all. The bonding of the first male Furyan Alpha in more than a hundred years to something even the Elementals had not predicted. Vaako with his Furyan blood and his very old, very rare talents inherited from his Metisian grandmother could rule the known Universe, or rip it to shreds if they wanted. Soon Furya and Metis would not be two separate people but one--one new Furyan race.

She knew that everyone with just a hint of the talent had felt what had started last night and finished just minutes ago. The Elementals had gotten their prophecy so very wrong and there would be no stopping what was going to come next. The Furyans were ready to settle their debt against the Universe and the Necromongers, and those that got in their way would not survive.

She would direct her son's army as they took control of the Ascension Device that Zhylaw had plunged into the surface of Furya but never set off. He had gloated at his easy destruction of the planet's population by leaving the device as a warning. He should have killed them all instead, because now that device would be used to destroy his precious Threshold.

"I can read you now," Vaako said from behind her.

She had not heard the other man or even felt his approach, and her thoughts revealed as much.

"Does that bother you?" he asked.

"Neither do, no," she answered, getting up from her bench to walk to the blank edge of the mural where she ran her hand down the black painted wall. "We must have this updated."

"Do you wish the Elemental brought here?"

"Only her head," Shirah said with a smile which Vaako returned.

"As you will, my Queen."

Her son entered the mural room and she watched as he prowled around it. "Do you have questions, my son?" she asked.

Riddick walked over to her and ran the back of his fingers over her cheek much as she'd done to him the night before. "We will talk later, mother," he answered. "But right now I'd much rather shove that device of yours right up the ass of their ship and have Vaako make that bitch of an ex fly it right into the Threshold."

Shirah laughed. The Universe was truly about to change.

"Come, my sons," she said, leaving the mural room. It was time to show them the Furyan fleet.

~~~***~~~

Riddick and Vaako shared a look as they followed Shirah from the mural room. Their bond humming with the thoughts of what they were going to do next. Their journey home was complete. Neither Riddick or Vaako had expected this outcome but both would not change a thing.

Together they were going to enjoy what came next and the death of the Necromongers was just the tip of it.

~end~