Chapter 28 Let’s dance
It was dark outside of “The Darkveil”, but the space port had enough light to make vision comfortable. No one seemed to be visible within the immediate surroundings. Just a suspicious, dead silence that could only anticipate the events which would soon follow. Death.
As soon as the ramp of the ship lowered completely, with its unmistakable metallic hiss, Jack saw five men aiming their guns at the entrance. Immediately, a strong, dangerous, presence wrapped around her body, like an invisible veil of protection, causing an uncontrolled shudder to pass through her body. Jack knew that the beast within Riddick had been released from its cage once again, and this time it wouldn’t be to show its hunger for her. She felt her heart beating fast and tightened her grip around the automatic weapon. Suddenly, another unexpected shiver crushed her body, causing her heart double its rhythm for a second. That new shiver hadn’t been caused by fear, it was more anxiety and anticipation. Jack couldn’t get rid of the strong sensation that something terrible was going to happen. She couldn’t stop the bad feeling fluttering inside of her stomach. I don’t like this shit, she told herself. Something’s wrong, Jack, she added, biting her lower lip.
The mercs walked hesitantly straight to the ramp, stopping by the side of the ship as a shadow of motion jumped from the top. Jack watched, shocked, as Riddick landed in the middle of them. This caused some of them to lose their balance and to the ground. Riddick’s arms were in constant motion, slashing and cutting mercilessly. He was kicking them while turning around himself. Taking their own guns from them and firing shots into the others. Jack couldn’t help but be fascinated, watching Riddick kill. His moves were deadly choreographed, as if he had spent months training just for this fight. It was like watching a wildly furious black panther; its sharp claws slashing and tearing necks, chests and limbs. Jack blinked, trying to focus her vision, but all she could see was Riddick’s body moving so deadly and fast that her brain couldn’t even register his moves.
It seemed as if everything was over when from out of nowhere there was more gunfire aimed against them. More men had been waiting, hidden behind the other ships, containers, and big boxes that were at the space port. Only seconds had passed, but to Jack it was as if they were minutes. She began to fire her gun at them, focusing her line of sight. From the corner of her eye she could see how Riddick wasn’t just killing the mercs. He was sending a message to everyone who would try to fuck with him in the future. At that moment, Jack was sure about one thing. Not one of these mercs was going to see the few hours of natural light that would follow the present night. The vision of the beast free and unrestrained caused an unexpected, devilish grin to grace Jack’s lips.
Riddick had released his inner beast from its cage a while ago, letting it take control of his actions. His body was sweating slightly; his shivs were drenched with blood, along with his hands and arms. Suddenly a deadly silence laid over the surroundings of the ship. Riddick came to stop and looked around himself. Corpses everywhere; blood everywhere. He snapped his head up, narrowing his silver eyes behind his goggles. Riddick let out a deep groan when he sensed more men approaching his ship. Jack fixed her gaze on his line of sight and gasped in horror when she saw at least fifteen more men ready to begin a new attack. They had been taking positions, surrounding the area and started to load their guns, opening fire against them a few seconds later.
“There’s an entire fucking squadron.” Riddick growled as he launched himself to the ground, avoiding their gunshots. Grunting, he landed on his left shoulder. “FUCK!” he roared.
Jack could have sworn that she had heard Riddick cursing soundly. As soon as she laid eyes on the new batch of mercs, her first thought was to jump out there and help Riddick, but somehow, she knew that he would kill her directly afterward if they hadn’t killed him first. In seconds, the sounds of gunshots were replaced with the sound of men screaming in pain. Jack continued pulling the trigger of her gun, trying to keep her breathing even and her vision focused. She didn’t want to waste any bullets. More gunshots and more screams filled the air around The Darkveil, until they were the only sounds that could be heard.
Alain had arrived with the ex-soldiers in time to witness Riddick’s inner beast at work. He saw Jack firing a gun, crouched at the top of the ramp and sheltered by the ship. He then looked frantically for Riddick, but he wasn’t anywhere. Alain couldn’t help but feel proud of the woman that was Jack. After all the things she had been through and here she was, firing at everyone who tried to take her away from her man.
“These motherfuckers are starting to fucking piss me off.” Riddick growled through clenched teeth as he rolled to one side to avoid a burst of gun fire. He crouched behind a big container and loaded a gun. Suddenly, he heard more men approaching the area and peered to one side. Riddick frowned deeply. These aren’t mercs, he told himself as he turned his head to The Darkveil. His brows arched in amusement as soon as he laid eyes on Jack. She was oblivious to him, concentrated on killing whoever tried to come near the ship. No hesitation, no fear. Jack was all business at the moment. Riddick grinned, fascinated. She’s good, Rick, he told himself. Yeah, she’s fucking great! he added, a devilish grin plastered on his lips.
Riddick turned his head once again and focused ahead of him. He saw Alain and suddenly he realized that while he had been watching Jack, a cross fire had started around him. Riddick found himself trapped in the middle. Fuck, he grunted as rolled for the ground and to another container, situated a few meters away.
Jack frowned deeply. For a second a bizarre idea crossed her mind. What the hell…? She would have sworn that the bastards were killing each other. Focus, Jack, her mind scolded. Riddick needs you, girl. She shook her head and looked for Riddick between the chaotic battle that was now taking place in front of her. There were men running from one side to another. Firing their guns, cursing and screaming. She couldn’t help but think about the old war movies she had seen in the past.
Jack had been so lost in her thoughts, even though it was just for a few seconds, she hadn’t realized that one merc was loading a HPW gun. He was on the top of the building located on the other side of the space port. If Jack would have seen him, she would have pulled the trigger of her own gun just two seconds earlier than when she actually did.
Jack shook her head wildly and looked frantically for Riddick. After a couple of seconds, she spotted him with his back to her, busy slashing the necks of two ex-mercs. Without warning, the voice inside her head screamed. Jack! The building! Immediately Jack snapped her head around and focused her attention on the one building situated to her left side. It had plenty of windows. Her eyes traveled quickly over its surface, checking every window in the process, and came to stop at the top of building. Her eyes widened as soon as she saw a man aiming a weapon that Jack had never seen before. What’s that shit! Her mind screamed. Jack’s heart skipped a beat as she followed the man’s gaze. He was aiming his gun directly at Riddick. Shit, shit, shit.
Afterward, time seemed to have slowed down around her. Jack heard her voice yelling at Riddick as if from far away; she swallowed hard as she returned her attention to the man. She narrowed her eyes and fixed the man’s head within her gun’s sight.
At the sound of Jack’s voice, Riddick turned around himself to look at her in time to see her pulling the trigger of her gun. At the same time, a powerful gunshot echoed over the space port, silencing all other sound. The next thing Riddick felt was an indescribable pain crashing through his body. The animal within let out a deep, angry roar. Slowly, Riddick looked down at his chest as he fell to his knees. Jack winced slightly at the sound and watched the merc fall from the building and crash onto the concrete below. Riddick looked up at her. Jack….
Riddick? For a second she went motionless. Jack would have sworn that she had heard Riddick calling to her, inside her head; recalling the sound she had heard, she looked at the place where he had been slashing those bastards no less than a few seconds ago. Jack’s heart stopped when she saw Riddick’s body lying on the concrete, motionless. NO!
Her eyes almost popped out of her head. “Riddiiiiick!” Jack screamed as she dropped the weapon. Without a second thought, Jack pulled out her shiv and rushed to Riddick’s side.
Before Jack could reach him, an arm grabbed her by her waist and pushed her hard to the ground, making her land roughly against it. Jack let out a big “umphf”, followed by a scream as her shiv flew from her hand and out of her reach. Oh, fuck. NO! After that, she let out a yelp of pain when she felt a heavy body crushed against her. Jack forced air to pass through her lungs, and tried to block the sudden pain that covered her slim body from head to toe. After a moment, she started to struggle with all her might to release herself from whoever it was that was trying to stop her from getting to Riddick’s side. Jack tried to reach for her shiv, but whoever it was, had grabbed her arms too.
“Let me go, you fucking bastard!” She cried out, completely annoyed as the man pressed his body down harder, covering her head. Jack wasn’t thinking about anything else, just the imperious necessity of reaching her shiv. The man weighed much more than Riddick. Jack let out a hiss of pain and struggled even more, feeling the adrenaline run wildly thought her veins.
“Relax, princess. You’re gonna hurt yourself.” A cold voice, of the man on top of her, pierced her ear.
“Let the fuck go of me!” She retorted, still trying to get out from under him when she heard a familiar voice shouting her name.
Alain fired his own gun as he crouched behind a container in front of them. “Jack!” a voice called out to her. In response, Jack frowned. “JACK!” Alain repeated louder in an attempt to catch her attention. It finally made her pause in her effort to try to and get away from Carl.
He saw Riddick a few meters away from Jack, lying on the ground. Alain started to creep in their direction. He needed to do something to protect Jack from the cross fire that was taking place around them. Alain’s mind raced, thinking about different options when realization dawned. If Riddick was the man he suspected, he had probably anticipated this was a possibility, so maybe Riddick had activated the panic code on his ship to keep Jack locked in and safe while he was outside killing whoever tried to enter The Darkveil.
Jack’s heart was racing as she tried with all her will to keep her breathing even. She gritted her teeth and turned her head, ignoring the pain in her right side and the man’s weight upon her body. The place was crowded with corpses they were all around them, but still she could hear gunshots and people screaming. The air was filled with the smell of blood. Then she saw Alain. He was close, just a few meters away, and he was creeping toward her and whoever was on top of her, crushing her body.
“Carl, don’t let her go!” Alain said to the man as he pulled the trigger of his gun, killing a merc who was aiming at Carl. “Jack! The panic code.” He said. Jack’s face showed a questioning look. What was Alain Morris doing here? She wondered. Alain sighed deeply. “Tell me the panic code!” Alain demanded from her. Jack frowned in puzzlement; she didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. The panic code? Fuck. What panic code? She wondered, completely lost.
“Jacqueline….” A deep voice growled close to them.
Jack had been so busy trying to release herself from underneath Carl, that she hadn’t realized that Riddick had crept up and was now next to her, lying on his back. Her eye widened in panic when she saw that Riddick’s chest was covered with blood.
“Riddick…..Oh my God!” she cried, staring at his chest. Jack didn’t need to be told; she knew that the blood was his. Jack felt tears rising and forced them back.
Riddick was looking at her with an expression on his face that she had never seen before. It was a mix of rage and fear. Riddick had never called her by her full name either, with the exception of the few times he wanted to fuck with her mind. And right now definitely wasn’t the best moment to fuck with her mind. Riddick had always called her “Jack.” “Jackie girl” or “kid”. So, why in hell he was he calling her Jacqueline? And why was he looking at her the way he was? Jack wondered in panic.
Jack frowned deeply, looking at him. “Riddick….?” She murmured, her voice was just a whisper as finally, with a lot of effort, one of her arms broke free and she reached out to touch him.
Riddick extended his own arm to touch her. There were just a few inches between their fingers, but they weren’t close enough to make the physical contact possible. “Hacker?” Riddick growled through clenched teeth. Alain looked at him. “The panic code is Jacqueline.” He said, gritting his teeth. He was starting to feel cold and his mind had become slightly blurry. Alain nodded, grinned, and moved to one side to block the light in front of Riddick’s face.
He had been right. The tiny-boy was a smart motherfucker, gifted with an intelligence that most people could only wish for. Riddick used the momentary loss of brightness to lift his other hand. He let out a groan of pain at the movement. Riddick then pulled up his goggles and locked eyes with Jack. She went motionless, staring into his silver eyes.
“Go back in the ship, kid. Wait for me there.” He growled weakly. He could feel his inner beast howling in pain, stumbling and confused. Riddick didn’t know what was happening to him, but with every second that passed he felt weaker and his mind felt sluggish. Had he gone so soft that just a gunshot wound could make him fall unconscious? In response to Riddick’s words, Jack nodded no wildly, her throat completely closed and tears frozen in her eyes. She didn’t know what was going on, but she was sure that Riddick was hiding something from her.
“Carl. Take her to the ship.” Alain said and the man named Carl nodded. As soon as the words left Alain’s lips, Jack started to struggle wildly to release herself from Carl’s grip. She swallowed the knot in her throat back down and found her voice. Looking at Alain she spoke.
“No fucking way. I’m not going anywhere without him.” Jack hissed through clenched teeth. Her voice was strangled and hoarse. She fixed Alain with a gaze that said much more than just those words. In response, Alain looked amused.
“Little bitch.” Carl muttered to himself, chuckling.
In spite of the pain that was now piercing Riddick’s chest, which felt as if he’d been stabbed with a stick made of fire, Riddick grinned. He should have known that Jack B. Badd wasn’t going to let anyone else make her decisions for her anymore, much less if it meant leaving him behind, even if just for a few minutes. But Riddick had no other choice. He had put her life in danger, and as long as she were to stay outside, that wasn’t going to change. Riddick growled, annoyed and frustrated. Jack locked her eyes once again with Riddick’s.
“Richard B. Riddick, don’t you fucking dare let them take me away from you, got it?” She warned Riddick, her voice sounded like a mother scolding her son, she was getting very annoyed with him. Riddick had gone nuts if he seriously thought she was just going to leave him here, alone and injured. Riddick knit his brow in amusement at her tone of voice, and chuckled weakly. Jack didn’t know why, but the voice inside of her was crying out for her to not leave Riddick alone.
Riddick couldn’t feel his legs anymore and a painful, creeping sensation was starting to quickly take over his hands. He didn’t know how much longer he was going to be able to remain conscious. He definitely didn’t want Jack to see him in that state. He dryly swallowed and flashed her with a gaze that didn’t leave any room for complaint and spoke in a menacing tone of voice.
“You better move that killer ass of yours, and get back to the fucking ship right now kid, or I’ll kill you myself. I fucking mean it.” Riddick’s voice was cold and hard. Jack gasped in shock, but shook her head in denial as she started to struggle to get out from under Carl again. A deep grunt left Riddick’s lips. “NOW, JACK!” he roared, breathing roughly.
Alain winced at the sound of his voice. Carl narrowed his eyes and looked at Riddick, who nodded in response, causing a grin to grace Carl’s lips. Jack, oblivious to the interaction, once again nodded no. The four of them were slowly being surrounded by more mercs. Alain looked around, searching for a safe path to Riddick’s ship. After a moment, he found one between three ex-soldiers who were still shooting and a few boxes. Alain motioned his head that direction and Carl nodded.
“At my sign, Carl.” Alain said as he got to his feet, firing his gun to distract the mercs who were starting to set their positions closer than before. A moment later, Alain exclaimed. “Now!”
In two seconds, Carl winked at Riddick and got to his feet, grabbing Jack in the process. “Riddick. No. Let me go, asshole. Riddick!” She cried out, kicking Carl and struggling with all her might. In response, Carl tightened his grip painfully around her waist, almost knocking the air out of her lungs, and chuckled.
Jack gasped. There was no point in trying to make Carl release her. Jack grunted in frustration and went motionless. She suddenly felt exhausted. She needed to regain control over her breathing, which was now ragged. Carl smirked when he noticed that she wasn’t fighting him anymore and carried her to the ship. He dropped her so hard that she landed in the middle of the cargo hold with a loud thump.
“Bastard!” Jack yelled at him. Carl turned on his heels, ignoring her as he grabbed a small gun from his belt. He fired at two mercs who were trying to reach the ramp. Jack used the opportunity to get to her feet, rushing to pass him, ignoring her aching muscles. “Let me go outside, asshole.” She said through clenched teeth. Carl glanced at her and shook his head in denial.
“Sorry, princess. Not gonna happen.” Carl said to her as he pushed her hard enough to make her fall to the floor, where she ended up on her bottom again. Jack screamed in pain. “Bitch.” Carl grinned and shook his head, rolling his eyes as he entered the panic code. Almost immediately the ramp started to raise. Carl turned around and looked at her one last time. “Been a pleasure, princess. Give my regards to Rick.” Carl grinned and winked as he jumped outside in time to see Jack rushing again, but this time to the ramp.
Jack could hear Alain’s voice shouting and more gunshots. Before the ramp was raised completely, she was able to see Riddick one last time. He was lying limp, his eyes closed, and she couldn’t tell if he was breathing. “NOOOOO! RIDDIIIIICK!” Jack screamed at the top of her lungs as the ramp went completely closed. She swallowed hard and entered the panic code with trembling fingers. “Let me out, you fucking piece of shit.” Jack hissed as the ramp clicked locked. She tried again and again. Let me out, let me out, let me out…. She chanted until a loud bang echoed in the cargo hold. What the…? The Darkveil had been blocked. “Fuck!” She cried out as she punched the panel.
The ex-soldiers didn’t need reasons to kill mercs; they considered them scum. A real man had to have a more powerful reason to kill than just credits. They had always thought that mercs were men without any ethical code or honor. So, under that basis, they had joined Riddick in his personal battle against the mercs. Their behavior could be considered dishonorable by the rest of the Galaxy, but today, the ex-soldiers had made their own choice; they were going to help Riddick and his woman, just for one reason. A reason more powerful than any other. He had once been a “Firm” man. That ex-con and dangerous killer who was Richard B. Riddick had once been a soldier, just like them.
Jack had been beaten when she was a child, so many times she had lost count of them. She had also been raped, at the age of thirteen, by one of the guardians who was supposed to take care of her at one of the “homes in transit”. Jack had been used and abused as a lab rat, for a team of doctors without scruples, for almost all her life; defeating all kinds of dangerous virus’s that had been injected into her young veins. Jack had been one of the few survivors of a terminal crash on a forsaken planet and had almost been eaten alive by hammerheads. She had been tortured and raped for weeks at the hands of two men who worked for The Firm on her way back to the same psycho doctor who had been using her for his experiments. But, none of those horrible, painful, experiences had the same effect on as this.
The vision of Riddick, lying covered in blood and with no signs of life in his body, had been for Jack the strongest trauma, and it had been more destructive than all the previous experiences had been all together. Right now, Jack didn’t think she had enough strength to wish to continue with her life. All her hopes had been whipped away from her, in a matter of seconds, at the sight of Riddick’s death. Jack didn’t want to live anymore.
Just a couple of hours before, Riddick had been wondering if something would be able to destroy her fighting spirit and her hopes. Well, here it was, the only thing that could make her loose her sanity. His own death.
Inside The Darkveil and under a red light, Jack’s eyes were wide as she moved backward until her back was pressed to the wall and she slid down to the floor. This was when she realized that she was trembling badly and her heart was beating faster than ever before. Her body was screaming in pain; every muscle ached. But, in spite of this, Jack couldn’t think of anything except Riddick’s body covered in his blood, motionless. Tears were falling unrestrained on her cheeks. The horrible vision filled her mind, turning her world inside out mercilessly. Suddenly, she didn’t feel the pain in her body anymore. Jack fixed her gaze to a spot only she could see, carried her legs to her chest and started to rock back and forth. Her mind was blank in seconds.
Alain was kneeling beside Riddick and pressed two fingers against his neck, he frowned deeply. Riddick’s pulse was weak, but steady. “Well, “tiny-boy”. Now it’s my turn to save your life Rick.” Alain muttered as he looked around. His eyes widened in horror at the view in front of him. There were at least thirty corpses scattered over the ground surrounding The Darkveil. “Fuck, Rick! You meant business.” He said shocked. “I knew for sure it was going to be a massacre.” Alain chuckled, shaking his head.
One of the ex-soldiers came to his side with a med kit. Alain opened it and pulled out gauze, pressing it to Riddick’s wound to stop the loss of blood. After a moment, it seemed as if his injury had stop bleeding, so Alain got to his feet and headed toward Riddick’s ship.
Alain hacked The Darkveil security code and realized that Riddick had disconnected part of her system. A moment later, the ramp lowered down. As soon as he entered the ship, Alain went directly to reestablish the power on her. He then headed toward the cargo hold. He waited until four men had carried Riddick’s limp body inside. They laid him on the floor of the dinning area. Alain frowned, there was no sign of Jack. As soon as they were done, Alain asked them to wait for him outside. He wasn’t sure what was going to be Riddick’s first reaction when he would open his eyes. Alain, still frowning, looked around frantically. There was still no sign of Jack. Where is she? He wondered, concerned. Then he shook his head and focused his attention on Riddick, who was still lying on the floor. Alain kneeled beside him as a heavy breath escaped his lips.
“Come on, “tiny-boy”,” Alain said him as he opened the med kit. “You’re a fucking survivor born. You’re not going to die here, are you?” He continued as he grabbed a hypo syringe. “You’ve got a beautiful woman waiting for you and a fucking doc to kill, Rick.” He had loaded it, while he was speaking, with a serum to make him wake.
Alain tapped Riddick’s arm and injected the serum. It was just a question of minutes before Riddick would return to consciousness. He then headed toward the cargo hold, and it was then when he spotted Jack. Alain’s eyes went wide at the sight of the young woman in front of him.
Jack was sat in the farthest and darkest corner of the room, with her back pressed against the wall and her legs close to her chest. She had her arms encircling them. Her green eyes were wide open, staring vacantly. Her face was stained with dry tears. It seemed as if her mind was in another place. Alain then realized that all of them had passed in front of Jack and she hadn’t reacted to their presence. “Oh, Jesus, beautiful. Where are you now?” Alain murmured sadly as he crouched in front of her.
Jack’s body started to rock back and forth. She was in a strange type of panic and shock. “Don’t do this to me, dammit,” she muttered through clenched teeth, speaking to no one in particular. Alain saw how her hands were trembling badly. “You promised me, Riddick…..” She added, her voice just a whisper, but strangely hoarse, as if she was speaking with herself.
Alain lifted a hand slowly and gently he stroked her cheek. “Hey, beautiful. Everything is ok now. Riddick’s ok.” He whispered. Jack didn’t react at the sound of his voice. “He’s waiting for you, Jack.” He added, his voice full of tenderness.
Alain shook his head, sighing. At that very moment, he wasn’t sure if Jack’s mind was going to snap back or if she was going to be in this state forever. Alain had seen this kind of reaction before in Slam. Many inmates had turned in a semi-coma state, with their eyes wide open, but their minds out of sync with reality. Some of them had been in that state for days; sometimes weeks and even years. They spent most of their time out of it, and experienced just a few hours of lucidity at a time. Mumbling incoherent words to themselves. Alain shut his eyes, he refused to lose any hope. There might be something that would be able to make Jack’s mind go back, but he couldn’t figure out what exactly.
Jack’s mind was in a place where only she and Riddick’s limp body existed. “Kill me.” He heard her say in a murmur. Alain’s eyes almost popped out of his face at the sound of her words. He fixed her with a really concerned gaze through his old, silver eyes. Jack swallowed hard. “I can’t live without you.” She added as she continued rocking back and forth.
Alain looked at her, shocked by the tone of her voice and her words and nodded no wildly, even he suspected she wasn’t exactly there right now to see him. Suddenly his throat went closed with an invisible knot that wouldn’t allow him to speak, or even breath. Alain knew too well how she was feeling right now. He had been there.
The day Alain had received Mariel’s necklace with a note enclosed, he had wished for his own death. The note just simply said: “Forget her.”
Alain remained in silence as tears rolled down his cheeks, staring at her. He knew Jack was strong; he was sure about that, but right now, Alain doubted if she was that strong. He stared at her, unable to make a move. Alain didn’t know what to do. He didn’t even dare to touch her. She seemed so fragile to his eyes at that very moment, that Alain couldn’t help but think for a second that she would break into pieces. And he didn’t want to leave her alone either. Oh, Jesus. What can I do? Send me a sign or something! Alain begged silently, when all of sudden a vision of Riddick and Jack kissing each other popped into his mind. His eyes went wide as a grin graced his trembling lips.