Chapter 25. An Old Friend Return
Damien sat in the far corner of the bar and ordered a shot. The place was dirty and overcrowded with damned souls. It was the kind of place that he’d always loved. He was about to take a sip of his drink, when he overheard the conversation between the two men who sat at the table closest to his. Damien frowned deeply and started to pay attention.
“I tell you, man. It was him.” One of the men said to the other. “I saw him leaving the space port earlier tonight.” He added as he took a sip from his beer.
The other one just shook his head. “How are you so fucking sure? Lots of people are coming and going these days. There must be hundreds of ships docked there.”
The first one raised his brows. “Are you shitting me? Tall, bald, goggles, dangerous. It’s him. The fucking Richard B. Riddick in the flesh and bones, man.” He laughed as he gulped the rest of his drink in one pull.
As soon as the man said Riddick’s name, Damien grinned slightly. He continued to drink evenly, while from time to time, he would glance from the corner of his eye at the two men. They were talking almost in whispers, but Damien could hear enough to realize that Riddick was on the planet. He tried with all his will not to burst into ecstatic laughter. Instead, he lit up a cigarette and took a deep breath. Yeah, Damien. You are a lucky bastard, he grinned broadly.
The second man looked around and dropped his voice even more. “Ok, let’s say you’re right. Why would Riddick land on Zul willingly?” He asked. “I know for sure that the fucker won’t be here for that long.”
“Don’t know, man. But he’s here with a chick.” The first man smirked. “You should’ve seen the bitch, man. She’s fucking hot.” He added as a dirty grin spread on his lips.
The other grinned back. “Great fuck, huh?” He asked as he thought for a second on his friend’s words.
In response, the first one swallowed hard. Just thinking about Riddick’s bitch caused his mouth to fill with saliva. He then cleared his throat. “I wouldn’t mind getting a piece that ass.” He said, grinning a dirty smile as took a sip of his friend’s beer. The second went silent for a long moment, recalling the words of his mate. Suddenly he spoke.
“You think big evil’s bounty is still in force?” He asked as he moved closer to his partner.
The first man that had spoken looked puzzled. “What? You’re seriously thinking to catch him? You’re fucking stupid, man.” He said as he slapped his friend on the back.
The other moved even closer. “Come on, asshole. Riddick’s bounty is a hell of a lot of credits. We’d be able to leave this shit hole.” He said as he gulped his own drink. He then stood. “Let’s check it out.” He said as he turned to leave.
His partner nodded no. “No fucking way, man. I haven’t got a death wish. That fucker would slash your throat before you got within ten meters of him. I’m not a merc anymore.” He continued as he beckoned to the waitress.
The man stood looking down at his friend. “He’s just a man. No one is immortal, not even Riddick.” He hissed as he grabbed the other’s arm and raised him up. “And what’s that shit about not being a merc anymore, asshole? Now, move your ass. There’re a lot of credits in this game.” He added as he pushed his friend out of the bar.
Damien watched them leave. Let those two assholes find big evil. They’ll save me the time, he grinned. Two for the price of one, he told himself as he thought about Alain Morris and Riddick. Yeah, Damien. You always have been a lucky bastard, he added as an evil grin graced his lips. Fortunately for Jack, Damien hadn’t heard the part where they had mentioned her.
When the two mercs were outside of the bar they looked at each other. “How are we going to find where he is? This shit hole is big.” One of them asked. The other one went silent for a long moment. Then a smirk appeared on his lips.
“I’ve got a fellow who works at the space port. If we give him a good cut, he’ll find out where Riddick’s ship has been docked. First we’re gonna go get the others, then we find big evil. Said and done, asshole. When we’re out of Zul, we can fuck the shit out of his bitch while we decide in which slam we’re gonna drop Riddick.” He said, grinning.
A moment later, Damien stood and went out the door of the bar. He crossed the street and headed toward the whorehouse. Damien was sure that those two assholes were going to end up dying by Riddick’s hands. He had known a lot of mercs over the years, and had learnt how to recognize the good ones. And these two assholes definitely weren’t good. Damien knew that they wouldn’t present any complications to his own plans. In the meantime, he could enjoy some time in the company of a slut. There would be plenty of time afterwards to kill his target and find out where Riddick was. He’d only have to follow the trail of corpses. Damien had been waiting almost six years to catch him, a couple of hours more wouldn’t kill him.
From the far corner of the bar, four men had been watching Damien the whole time he’d been there. They were just waiting for the perfect chance to catch him, and that chance was about to take place. One of them, whose name was Carl, slowly stood to his feet and headed toward the entrance of the bar, followed by the other three.
They followed him across the street and entered the brothel. As soon as they made their way through the customers, and to the bar, they had caught everyone’s attention. An air of danger was floating around them. Almost immediately, a petite blonde full of curves, headed toward them and stopped in front of Carl, smiling broadly. Carl looked down at her and grinned. He tilted his head and murmured something against her ear. The blonde frowned slightly and nodded yes. She then turned on her high heels and hurried her steps, disappearing behind two heavy purple curtains.
Carl and the rest of the men waited patiently for her. After a long moment, she returned to his side, and extending her small hand, she gave him a key card. In response, Carl grinned and bent his head, kissing her lips softly. Afterward, he turned and tilted his head in the direction of the stairs on the left. With one vigorous nod, the three men headed toward the stairs. Carl turned and gave the petite blonde another look over. In response, she gasped with surprise. Carl chuckled and gave her a last glance before he turned around and headed toward the stairs.
The petite blonde with the high heels stared at Carl’s back side as she narrowed her eyes in suspicion. She didn’t know what these ex-soldiers were doing here, looking for a merc. That was a novelty. It used to be ex-cons looking for ex- mercs, or vice versa. This was an illogical thing. She frowned deep as she had the thought that the poor bastard was going to regret his landing on Zul in a matter of minutes. She hoped that at least they wouldn’t ruin the room completely.
Alain Morris fixed his gaze on the screen, grinning. The room was in shadows and he had taken off his goggles. After a moment he rubbed his eyes and checked the information again that was on the screen. “Yeah… You still have the touch, Hacker.” He muttered to himself, smirking.
Alias(s): The Hacker.
Protocol Security Code: 25710290 / Q
Offence(s): High Treason.
Sentencing: Capital Punishment. (Forgiven by The Firm’s Board).
Current Status: Imprisonment for life on Xela. Planet Zul. Alhaur system.
Not even he would have been able to detect that the chip was a copy of the one that had been inserted under his skin fifteen years ago. Alain leaned back in his chair, sighing. He closed his eyes as he concentrated on his surroundings. Well done, tiny-boy, Alain told himself. A few seconds later, he swiveled his chair, still grinning, just to find Riddick leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed over his chest. Jack was standing behind him, looking directly into Alain’s eyes.
“Silent as a shadow.” Alain muttered as he stood, his face showed a slight amusement. Riddick had learned more than Alain would have expected from him. Riddick had hacked Alain’s shop security code without him even noticing; not just anyone would have been able to hack that. “I knew for sure you were paying attention while I was talking back then.” Alain added, full of pride concerning Riddick.
Back in slam, Alain had filled their time in the cell talking about codes, programs, computers, and other matters related to hackers. Riddick always seemed out of their conversation, but Alain had always suspected that the kid was paying attention, and tonight he had the confirmation.
Riddick knit a brow over his goggles as he moved forward, grinning. Jack just followed him; her eyes narrowed in suspicion. She didn’t trust Alain. Just a glance at him and a strong shiver crossed her spine. His appearance brought back memories of Dr. Morris. Unconsciously, Jack moved even closer to Riddick. Alain frowned, surprised. He didn’t want to make her feel uneasy or scared. Riddick noticed Jack’s reaction and tensed in silent alert, just to relax a second later. “Relax, Jackie girl.” Riddick growled in a low voice. “The old man is a smart fucker.” He continued as he titled his head, cracking his neck.
“You don’t have to be afraid of me, Jack,” Alain said gently as he moved forward, staring at her eyes. “I’m not gonna hurt you.” His voice sounded with a hint of pain. If Alain was sure about something, it was that Jack had been hurt many times before.
Jack raised a brow slowly. “I’m not scared of you.” She retorted coldly. “I don’t trust you.” She added as she looked him over. That wasn’t exactly the truth, the voice inside her head told her that she could trust this man, but she didn’t want to admit that to herself though.
“Don’t need to trust me either.” He said as he looked at Riddick who was now staring back at him menacingly. Alain’s eyes were wide open as he gasped. “Besides, I haven’t got a death wish this morning.” In his voice there was a slight touch of fear. Riddick isn’t a man to mess with, Alain told himself.
Riddick grinned a devilish smirk. “Speak up, old man. Ain’t got too much time.” He growled as he moved forward.
“Just listen to what I’ve got to tell you.” Alain said as he returned to his chair. Jack frowned slightly and looked at Riddick who just nodded. In response she let out a deep sigh. Jack wasn’t sure anymore if she wanted to hear whatever this man would have to tell them, but kept silent.
Alain motioned for both of them to take a seat. Riddick sat on a chair next to Alain, and Jack just stood behind Riddick. She didn’t feel comfortable around this man, at least not for now. Alain looked at her and sighed. What had he expected? She had suffered too much and had learned not to trust in anybody. Obviously, tiny- boy is the exception. Alain couldn’t help but chuckle at his thought. No one would trust in Riddick but her. They are definitely made for each other.
Alain shook his head and began to talk. “Twenty years ago, The Firm financed a secret experiment. They were trying to find a cure for a disease. It wasn’t the first time, but this disease was more deadly than any of the others that had appeared for many years. At that time there wasn’t a cure or treatment to fight it. The main source of the infection was located near the frontiers, where The Firm had most of its main investments at the time. Thousands of its employees died over a few weeks time. The Firm was loosing millions of credits each month.”
Alain swallowed hard, he knew that the following information was going to be a Hell. He breathed deeply and continued. “The Firm’s Board itself selected the team of scientists. One of them was my brother, Maurice. Well, back then, he was the head of the team.” Alain then went silent for a few seconds. Jack frowned as she felt her heart speed its rhythm, and pressed her hand onto Riddick’s shoulder. He then took her hand in his and motioned her to sit on his lap. Alain grinned as he watched the couple. He then continued. “Maurice found something. It seemed as if after a couple of years of investigation, he had finally discovered the antidote. I’ve got to give the fucker at least that much. He always had been one of the best fucking scientists in the Galaxy.” Alain chuckled as he thought about his brother.
Jack tensed. Dr. Morris’ treatment had made her sick for five years, turning her into a junkie, wiping away her memories, making the last five years of her life a living hell. Riddick noticed how she had tensed and put a hand on her thigh, stroking gently, evenly. Jack relaxed a bit under his touch and made herself more comfortable on his lap. Riddick began to grow impatient.
“What’s that shit have to do with Jack?” He asked, his voice serious. Riddick was feeling Jack’s tension and didn’t want to spend more time that necessary there. Actually, he couldn’t stop the feeling that mercs were near.
Alain watched Jack for a few seconds in silence. She stared back at him, her eyes cold. Alain shook his head. Jack was mimicking Riddick’s cold face without realizing it. But what he didn’t know, was that Jack was scared about what he had to tell her. She suspected she wasn’t going to feel any better when he finished.
“Jack, you were born on Yoly, a planet located inside of the Taurus system. Your parents died in a plague that assaulted Yoly’s population. I’m not sure if you remember them. But as far as I know, they were a happy couple that loved you.”
For a second, Jack tried to remember her parents, but they were just a blurry vision. Jack was only three years old when they had died. She had no clear memories of them, just an absence in her heart. She had always wondered how her life would have been if her parent hadn’t died when she was a little child. Even on those horrible nights in the Homes in Transit, Jack dreamed of them; what they looked like. Every time she looked at herself in the mirror, she always wondered if she bore a resemblance to her own mother; like the color of her eyes and hair. Jack’s mind always played with the idea that they were wonderful, and had loved her with all their heart and soul. She had even created for herself a little fantasy world, where only her parents and herself were living. Inside that world, she was painting and playing with her father, while her mother was cooking a delicious meal for the three of them. Back then, when someone hurt her in any way; she could always hide inside of that wonderful world where she always felt safe and loved. It was only during the time when Jack had been living with Imam and Riddick, that she had felt safe and loved again, like in her imaginary world of fantasy.
Jack’s eyes narrowed in suspicion while she looked at Alain. How could he know if her parents loved her? Just hacking files? She wondered. Alain fixed her with his silver gaze and smiled sadly. Alain knew what she was thinking. “How do I know that? I have spent the last fifteen years of my life searching for something, anything, to use against my brother. I’ve been reading reports and files from each and every living soul who would have had something to do with him in any way. And I mean everything and everyone, with no exception at all.” Alain said and then sighed heavily.
“Maurice needed a place to use his new treatment, so The Firm decided that Yoly was as good a planet as any other to test the virus and its treatment. Taurus system was close enough to the frontiers. As a direct consequence of those experiments, everybody died on Yoly, with the exception of children under five years. It seemed as if the children were immune to the virus. Of course, The Firm said that it had been a plague. They didn’t need an insurrection so close to their highest investments. The Firm was overwhelmed by the implications of the experiments. Then things went out of control really fast. They would have never been able to imagine what was going to happen. All the survivors were relocated on other planets in the systems, in either fosters homes or adopted. But, there were many children; too many, so they decided to create the so called “Homes in Transit” Jack. Unfortunately, you ended up in one of them.”
Jack’s eyes went wide and she gasped at this revelation. Memories of those days filled her mind without warning, causing her to shiver. Alain watched in shocked silence as Riddick immediately lifted a hand and stroked Jack’s back by instinct. Alain never would have figured that Riddick would have been able to show that kind of affection to anyone. But again, Alain suspected that he didn’t know the man in front of him. At least, that meant that Riddick was starting to trust him enough to drop his guard a bit around him. And that fact made Alain felt proud of the kid he knew fifteen years ago. Obviously, that kid had taken long steps in the direction of rejoining with the human race; with the help of a young woman who had more in common with that kid, than anyone would have ever imagined. Who would have been able to think that Richard B. Riddick had one soft spot? And even more bizarre, that the soft spot named Jack was the same place from where Riddick received his strength.
Then Alain focused his thoughts on the “Homes in Transit” and sighed sadly. He had always known how those homes were run. “Those children, the ones relocated in the “Homes in Transit”, were the strongest ones. Somehow, they not only were immune to the virus; they had developed in their bodies the antidote. So, naturally, The Firm took advantage of the new situation and agreed when Maurice and his team demanded to continue with his investigations. The Board allowed it to continue, as long as they would be able to find a way to fight against that virus and any others that should arise. It wasn’t as a result of casualty that all those kids ended up together. Back then it was easier to keep them together and supervised if they were the same age. Maurice wanted to be sure about how the different serums would affect the kids, taking into consideration their ages and how they were growing. Of course, they didn’t want to arouse suspicion regarding their actions, so Maurice masked the experiments as simple blood tests or vaccines. That fucker, along with the rest of his team, assumed direct supervision as they continued with their research.”
Alain swiveled his chair and pressed a few buttons on his comp. Suddenly a big screen on the wall in front of them lit up with thousands of pictures. All of them were of children, both boys and girls. Their ages appeared be from five to ten, maybe even twelve years old. At the bottom of each one, a personal code and two dates were written. Under the dates a word in big capital, red letters could be read. DECEASED.
Riddick fixed his gaze on the screen as Jack’s eyes widened in horror. Oh, my God! Her mind cried out as she reached a hand out for Riddick’s. Immediately, Jack felt tears rise and tried to force them back, but she couldn’t. Silent tears rolled down her cheeks. Riddick shut his eyes as his hand tightened gently on Jack’s, grunting, he circled Jack’s waist. Alain closed his eyes just for a few seconds. No matter how many times he had seen those pictures; they always had the same effect on him. Then Alain surfed along the different pages, showing the pictures of those dead children, as he continued with his explanation, trying to swallow the knot in his throat and the nausea on his stomach.
“They continued testing on those poor kids with different serums and treatments. Some of them mixed with the food and water; some directly injected.” Alain sighed sadly. “Over the years, the children began to die. Too much shit had been injected into their bodies. Nobody gave a fuck about them though. They were orphans. No family, no credits. Nothing. Their deaths were hidden and children from other places were relocated into those “Homes in Transit”. As the years went by, the Galaxy forgot them.” Alain let out a deep breath. Jack sniffed silently as she cleared her eyes. But her vision was still blurred. Alain stopped on one of the pages and selected a picture. Riddick’s silver eyes went wide behind his goggles. What the fuck? He growled to himself.
A picture of a fourteen-year-old Jack filled the screen. In the picture, her brunette hair was longer than it was now, resting above her flat chest. Her big and beautiful green eyes were looking directly at the camera. At the bottom of her picture there was just one date. Her birth date, along with a personal code. Jack blinked and focused her attention on her picture. She remembered the day that the manager of the “Home in Transit” called her and took that picture. After a long moment Jack looked at Alain, puzzled.
“Yes, Jack. After all those years of experiments, you were the only survivor.” Alain paused, he knew too well that that revelation was going to provoke a shock. Jack’s eyes went wide as Riddick’s body tensed and he growled. “The Firm discovered that fact just a few weeks before you ran away from the last “Home in Transit”. You are the only witness left of that fucking mistake. You’re the only evidence that those experiments were ever done.” Alain stated.
Jack’s mind was racing at this point. She remembered all the vaccines and blood tests. She remembered the other girls and boys she had met, and how some of them had fallen sick without a reason. Sometimes the symptoms were just like a cold; sometimes like rare diseases. Jack had suffered a few of them herself, even though she’d always recover faster than the others. “That’s why they sent their men to look for me?” Jack’s voice was almost a whisper. Her mind continued flashing with memories, she was looking at a spot only she could see. Jack felt her rage rise. “The son of bitch needed me to continue with his fucking experiments.” She muttered suddenly, full of anger. “I would kill him with my own hands if I could do it.” She hissed through clenched teeth, thinking about Dr. Morris, as a new wave of tears, this time angry ones, threatened to appear and her hands closed into fists, making her knuckles go white under the pressure.
“That’s my line, kid.” Riddick growled as he stood, grabbing Jack by her waist. He wasn’t sure if her legs would be able to support her weight right now. “You ok, Jack?” Riddick asked, concern written on his face. Jack looked at him as she nodded yes slowly. Riddick squeezed her waist gently as she sighed heavily. He then looked at Alain. “Ok, old man. Now what?” Riddick growled.
Alain fixed him with his silver gaze. “As far as I know, The Firm isn’t informed about your…. Relationship.” Alain couldn’t help but grinned. “Therefore, that fact is playing in favor of you.” He added as he stood.
Riddick fixed his gaze on the screen where Jack’s picture was still flashing at them. “That explains why The Firm wants you dead. And why they wanted me to kill you.” Riddick growled, locking eyes with Jack.
Alain frowned in puzzlement. “What!” He asked, surprised and confused.
Riddick turned his attention to Alain. “It was ordered that I had to kill her.” He said through clenched teeth as his hands closed into fists. Jack moved closer to him and stroked his arm gently. Riddick relaxed slightly under her soft touch and turned his head to look at her. Jack smiled shyly as she pressed her body to his. Riddick grinned then bent his head, kissing Jack’s temple softly. How someone would be able to think that he was going to kill the only woman he had…. What? Cared about? Loved?
A dead silence laid over the three of them. Alain’s mind was racing with thoughts that had been caused by Riddick’s words. At the same time, Riddick was staring at Jack’s eyes, trying to figure out what exactly his feelings were concerning her. Certainly, it wasn’t just that he cared about Jack, it was more, probably much more, but what exactly? For Riddick right now, just thinking about something stronger between them was much too foreign for him.
Jack, on the other hand, was busy trying to assimilate the information that Alain had given them. She wasn’t really surprised by the revelations. Just more pain to add at her already painful life. After so much time dealing with it, Jack honestly was starting to even feel comfortable with herself, and proud of herself too. It wasn’t that she had gone insane, finding enjoyment in her sorrow, but she definitely had to admit that she felt stronger with each day that passed. At this point, she only needed a few minutes to get over a new painful memory and move on to another subject.
“Oh, fuck, Riddick. No way.” Alain muttered lost in thought, bringing them both back to reality. They looked at Alain, frowning. After a moment, Alain shook his head and looked at them. “Maurice….” he trailed off.
“What the fuck do you mean?” Riddick asked, his voice more menacing that he thought it would sound. That made Jack look at him and Alain winced a little.
“Maurice wanted her dead.” Alain said almost in a whisper. He then looked at Riddick. “The fucker used The Firm, Rick. It’s Maurice. Maurice wants her dead. Oh fuck, how couldn’t I have figured it out?” Alain’s eyes moved in frantic action, his mind racing again. “Jack isn’t useful anymore. Maurice’s last experiments had been completed.” Alain murmured.
He had read the conclusions of his brother’s experiments with a serum to cause memory loss. Dr. Morris had been expecting to show his results to The Board. In his report, Dr. Morris recommended his serum to be applied with prisoners, spies and others who The Firm would want to control or manipulate. One of the side effects of the red serum was that the patients fell into a state of semi submission. As a direct consequence of the treatment, patients suffered extremely painful seizures. These involved, nausea, hemorrhaging, shivers, tachycardia, cold sweats and many others symptoms that it would be supposed are constant reminders of a painful death. If a patient attempted to stop using the serum, these symptoms would become steadily worse, usually ending in the patients death. However, it is noticed, that most patients only tried this once, then would continue to use the serum to avoid the consequences of the withdrawal.
Alain then locked eyes with Jack. He remembered that in his brother’s reports, attached to Jack’s files, there wasn’t anything about Riddick. Dr. Morris was completely oblivious about their relationship. Inside of Jack’s brain, the events that had occurred during her trip back to Thalion, on board of The Firm’s ship, had been a deep and strong shock. That strong physical and psychological trauma had caused Jack a loss of selective memory, that in some way had made Jack forget the details of the tortures that were inflected to her. Dr. Morris used that opportunity to test his new serum with her. As a result, he could prove that his serum worked, but along with that, the serum wiped away the rest of Jack’s past as well.
Alain grinned. Without even being conscience of it, Dr. Maurice had kept Jack safe from himself, because she never revealed her past with Riddick. “You’ve been really smart, Jack. Hiding from him your relationship with Riddick. That’s been what has kept you alive. If Maurice or The Firm would have discovered that you two met before, and that you had already begun to remember things, you would have been dead long ago, beautiful. By now he thinks that you still have a memory loss, and that that isn’t gonna change, as long as you continue injecting that red serum.” He said, frowning deeply. “It seems that the fat fucker is not as smart as he thinks he is.” Alain ended, smirking.
Riddick looked down, confused. Fuck, Dr. Morris wants Jack dead? his mind echoed as he arched his brows. If this was a joke, Alain was playing with fire here. “Are you shitting me? It was The Firm itself that wanted Jack ghosted, not your fucking brother, old man. They sent me the intel. Everything they figured I would need to find her and kill her.” His voice sounded deadly serious. His eyes showed a dangerous glimmer. “They contacted me as usual. The fucking Firm”
Alain cut him off. “No, no, Riddick. Maurice is wiping away his dirty past. That fat piece of shit is using his connections to eliminate any black spot on his fucking flawless career. The Firm is helping him with that matter, that’s all. Jack has become a loose end, like Mariel was, like…. Me.” Alain said as he turned to his computer, ignoring Riddick’s gaze. Typing faster than anyone would have been able to follow. He didn’t bother to take a seat. Alain selected a program and began to make a copy on a disc as he continued speaking. “I should tell you to stay on Xela for a while, Riddick. But unfortunately, time is running out for all of us. You are not safe here anymore. You both have to leave Zul today.” Alain added, sighing as the disc was finally finished. He then turned around and locked eyes with Riddick. “Mercs, Riddick. Actually a merc.” He said seriously. Riddick tensed, making Jack shiver. She could sense the animal within him go on guard just at the sound of the word. “Yeah, Maurice has sent a merc to kill me. I suppose he grew tired after all these years. I figure that he can no longer wait for my natural death. Probably, his sick dream is about to turn into reality, so he’s no longer able to leave loose ends.” His voice was even, not a drop of emotion or fear in it. “First it was Mariel; now Jack and me. The fucker needs us out of the picture.” Alain had always suspected that sooner of later this was going to happen, but not yet.
Jack turned her head and with confused eyes, stared at Alain. “What about you?” Jack suddenly asked. He turned around and looked at her. “You have to get out of here too.” She said looking to Riddick, who seemed lost in his own thoughts. Jack frowned slightly and looked again at Alain.
“Unfortunately, Jack, I can’t leave this planet.” Alain answered as he rubbed his arm. “A fucking tracking chip.” He sighed as he pulled out the disc.
Jack looked puzzled. “What’s that?”
Alain ignored Jack’s question and looked at Riddick. “Take this with you Rick. You know how to use it.” He said as he extended the disc to him. Riddick shook his head slightly and focused his attention on Alain. “Please, Riddick. You know that I’ve never asked you for anything, tiny-boy, but I need you to do me this last favor.” He said almost pleading. “When the time comes, use it. I’ll be waiting.” Alain added, smiling. Riddick took the disc and gave it a closer look. It was a red disc with a white skull drawn on it. Riddick knew well what that disc was. Grinning, he put it in his pocket.
“Done.” Was all Riddick said.
Jack looked at him, frowning. “What’s a tracking chip and what’s on that disc?” She asked staring at Alain. He turned around and locked eyes with her.
“I’ve got a chip implanted under my skin. It’s high tech shit. Impossible to remove or hack. It’s a shame coming from me, I know. But not even I can hack it.” Alain rubbed his arm as he continued. “If I’d leave the planet’s atmosphere, The Firm’s spec ops would receive a signal. They won’t ask questions or send warnings. They just blow any vessel with a tracking chip inside of it.” Alain ended by picking up a small chip with his fingers. He then looked at Riddick. “But, I’m The Hacker, which means that I’m the only one who can make a copy of it.” Alain grinned as he elaborated. “I figure that the merc who has to kill me has been ordered to bring the chip as evidence of my death. Probably has to contact The Board, and ask them to disassemble the chip, otherwise they’d blow him away as well.” Alain chuckled. “That would be a fucking irony, wouldn’t it?” he added, smirking.
Jack still looked puzzled. Dr. Morris had sent a merc to kill his own brother, but at the same time, he expected that The Firm’s men would blow the merc’s ship? At that moment Jack understood that Dr. Morris was not only a real bastard with no respect at all for human life, but he was a smartass as well. “And the red disc?” She asked.
Alain grinned a devilish smile. “You’ll find out soon, Jack.” Was his answer.
For a moment it seemed as if Riddick had been oblivious to Jack and Alain’s conversation. As if he had been lost on his own world again, and that wasn’t exactly far from the truth. When he heard of the merc who had land on Zul to kill Alain, a vision of part of his nightmare had popped into Riddick’s mind. Jack was covered in blood, agonized, fighting for her life. Riddick grunted as he closed his hands into fists. No fucking way. That won’t happen, he growled to himself. His inner beast roared as all the muscles in his body tensed at once. Riddick then focused his gaze on Alain once more. “What’s the fucking doc’s dream?” He growled, his eyes flashing devilishly; his voice was cold and hard. Alain couldn’t help the huge shudder that crossed his spine. He could feel the air of danger surrounding Riddick’s body at that very moment. Alain swallowed hard and cleared his throat.
“I would say that it’s to become a member of The Firm’s Board.” Alain said as he sat back onto his chair. He then looked down and breathed deeply. He suddenly felt exhausted.
During the last fifteen years of his life on Zul, Alain had been collecting information, planning carefully each and every step of his particular race against his brother. And now all his efforts were about to be tested. It’s in your hands now, Rick, he sighed. It’s all in your hands. Alain raised his head and looked at Riddick. “According to my sources, he is now at the top of his career. Maurice has always been thirsty for power. From his current position, his power is limited, but if he were to be able to take a seat on The Board,…. Maurice would be untouchable. His ambition doesn’t know limits. At this very moment he is drunk with dreams of power and glory.” Alain said as he looked down again.
While they had been talking, Jack had sat on the chair that Riddick had left free. She appeared shocked, and in some ways she was. If someone must be considered an animal without scruples, it certainly had to be Dr. Morris, not Richard B. Riddick. First it was The Firm that wanted her dead, now it was Dr. Morris too. That fucking doctor not only had turned her life into a hell, but now he wanted her dead. Jack would have laughed if the situation wouldn’t have been dangerous enough. Just when she had found Riddick, and her life made sense to her. Jack wanted to scream as she felt her anger rise again.
Riddick turned his head and looked at her, and moved to her side. Riddick crouched in front of her, resting his hands onto her thighs. She let out a sigh as circled his neck with her arms. Alain’s eyes were wide as he watched them in complete silence. Jack rested her head on his shoulder, burying her face in his neck. “What are we gonna do now, Riddick?” She asked.
Riddick lifted a hand to her back. He stroked up and down as he spoke almost in a whisper. “We’re gonna pay a visit to a little fucker. He doesn’t know it, but he’s already fucking dead.” Riddick growled as he thought about the little man who had been his contact with The Firm for five years. He then thought about Alain’s words. If he was right, then not only would they have The Firm’s men on them, but every merc available as well. He raised his goggles and made them rest on his forehead. Riddick put his hands on both sides of her head and titled it back, locking eyes with Jack.
“Everything is gonna be fine. I promise.” His voice was a sweet deep rumble that sounded reassuring to her. Jack’s lips curved in a confident smile.
“I trust you, Riddick. I know you’ll protect me.” Her voice held no trace of doubt. Riddick nodded as he bent to capture her lips in a slow, gentle kiss. They both understood that Riddick meant to keep his promise up as long as he had breath in his body. They were kissing each other as if they were alone in the room. After a moment, Alain cleared his throat. He had begun to feel uncomfortable around the couple.
They parted lips a few seconds later. Jack locked eyes with him again. “Ok, then. Let’s find that little bastard.” Jack said as an evil grin graced her lips. Riddick nodded as he stood, pulling her to her feet as well.
She then looked at Alain. It seemed as if he was lost in his own thoughts. Watching them as they kissed each other had brought back to him memories of Mariel and himself kissing in a much similar way. “You want to know something, Jack?” Alain suddenly asked her as he stood. Jack looked at him. “Your eyes are similar to Mariel’s eyes. You both have beautiful, green eyes. They sparkle with an unique brightness…” Alain trailed off as one hand reached into his pocket. He pulled out something as he went to Jack’s side. Riddick’s body tensed as soon as Alain moved closer to Jack. From the corner of his eye, Alain watched Riddick’s body radiating danger and stopped dead in his tracks. He then slowly turned around and extended his hand. Riddick arched a brow slowly as he relaxed. “I gave this to Mariel the day I asked her to marry me.” His voice was full of sorrow. He took another step and reached for Jack’s hand. She let him take her hand in his as she looked at Riddick; a questioning look on her face. In response, Riddick slightly shrugged his shoulders. “I know she wouldn’t be mad if I give it to you.” Alain added as he gently laid the necklace on her palm.
Jack gasped in surprise as she watched speechless. She had never seen something so beautiful in all her life. A green stone was linked in wrought silver, hanging from a black leather band. Its beauty settled in the color of the stone. It seemed as if the stone sparkled from the inside, and not because the light was reflected on it. Not even Jack would have been able to choose such a beautiful piece of jewelry for herself.
Alain stared at her. She then took a deep breath and swallowed hard. “I, … I can’t accept it.” Jack stuttered, her throat closed by emotions as she stared down at the necklace on her palm.
After a moment, she looked up at Alain and her eyes went wide as she saw how Alain’s eyes were full of frozen tears. Jack sighed deeply and swallowed the knot that had appeared from nowhere in her throat. She understood that Alain had been completely in love with his woman. The old man had lost her more than twenty years ago, but it seemed as if his love for her had survived through all those years, even after her death. She couldn’t help but wonder if she and Riddick would be able to have a love like Alain and Mariel.
“It’s the only evidence I have that she was alive. You keep it, Jack. For me it would be as if Mariel would be able to live through you again while you carry it, beautiful.” His voice was broken as he fought to keep his tears frozen in place.
Jack felt tears rising, but forced them back. This man was giving her his more precious possession. The only thing that meant something for him. Maybe she had been too fast in judging him. Just a glance at the necklace, and anyone could see that it wasn’t expensive, but its value was incalculable, because it had to do with feelings and emotions. For a moment she tried to speak. She felt overwhelmed for a second with his pain. Finally, she found her voice. “Thank you, Alain.” She said softly as she closed her hand, with the necklace inside of it. Alain nodded as a tiny smile graced his lips. He let out a deep sigh as if a heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Then Jack tiptoed on her feet and kissed Alain’s cheek softly, causing Alain to flush.
Riddick let out a deep grunt. Jack turned her head to look at him. His face was cold, unreadable, but she suspected that something was bothering him again; and it had nothing to do with The Firm, mercs, Dr. Morris or Zul. Jealous? She asked herself, frowning slightly as she walked toward him. Riddick followed her with his mercurial gaze in complete silence. When Jack stood in front of him, she gave him the necklace and turned around. She then raised her hair with one hand and titled her head slightly. Riddick arched a brow, and after a moment, he put the necklace around her neck. Jack felt his warm breath brushing her skin as he bent over and kissed her neck gently, lingering in his caress. Jack’s body shivered in anticipation, but she wasn’t sure if it had been caused by his hot lips, pressed on her skin, or the emotions floating around them. Alain watched them in complete silence as two single tears rolled down his cheeks.