The gift she had given him, humanity, on a planet with a night 22 years long..
| (A work in progress-For my daughter (and I), because we could not wait for Vin Diesel to finish writing "The Chronicles Of Riddick", which is the follow up to the movie Pitch Black. Then make it into a movie. Then wait for it to come to the dollar theater... anyway... here's my version.)
Nightmares And Names
Fry..small..fierce..one hell of a woman. The look, as they stood face to face before she died. She had come back for him. No one had ever come back for him. Would not forget the woman, would not forget the night, would not forget the look. He reached out to hold the girl, the runaway, who had made it out with him, as another nightmare took her.
......the keening was drawing closer,the snapping jaws just moments away from the raised hair on the back of her neck....sweat poured from her as if she sat in the hot box back at her father's house. Closer..yet not. She can run no further through the rain, the black muddy pitch sucks at her feet seeming to reach up her legs with it's grip. The keening...snapping..clicking..now reaching. She turns slowly, all flight response at the end of overdrive. The creature is a stride away, it slowly raises it's massive head. As the gaping maw slowly opens..revealing stainless steel shards for teeth, a face is revealed. Fry..the pilot! Her face a nightmare in expectation....The girl feels the scream rise from the primal depths of her being. Climbing, with hooked claws, it's way through what's left of her mind and out of her ragged throat. Again and again she screams...waking herself once more. Ridic is there as always. Arms of steel wrapped around her saying nothing...as there is nothing to say. They each took turns doing the same for each other. It seemed as if she suffered most from the nightmares left from the planet that took all but three lives. Ridic the criminal, Mahat the holy man and herself, Syon the runaway.
The cramped quarters of the freighter bound for the main spacing lanes were a great consolation for Syon as she untangled herself from Ridic's protective hold. Syon stood and stretched, assuring the concerned look in the big man's eyes with a gaze that told him what he needed to know. Mahat next also received that same gaze. They had been picked up by the freighter three days out from the Hell Planet. They had Ridic pretend to be blind. Because of the goggles covering the "shine" job on his eyes, this was accomplished with ease. Syon was his sister, and both were on their way with Mahat to a planet just inside the spacing lanes. Their story took them this far. The three knew that once they disembarked on Rajerian they would need to Ghost themselves, for Ridic's sake.
They disembarked on Rajerian, in the city of Ophan, amongst hundreds of other pilgrims. They made their way to an unquestioning part of town. Upon settling into a no-face, no name room, the three breathed a sigh of relief. Well two of them did. Ridic knew better than to think there would be no more "Johns" (bounty hunters) it was merely a matter of time.
New names and I.D.'s were the topic of the moment. With what they had made salvaging the escape ship to a small black market operation Ridic had found, the last traces of any connection to them should be erased. Mahat decided he would stay with the pilgrims. As his holy journey was yet to be completed. Syon said her goodbyes with no tears, she knew they would meet again. That left Ridic and Syon to ponder their new identities. Ridic became "Nyte Syder" and Syon became "Daay Syder",his little sister. Nyte believed this would work until he could get Daay back to her parents. He knew she would have none of this, had she known his plans.
The woman was shaking with her need. Another contraction assumed her body, twisting and rolling her in it's grip. Between the need for another spike and the oncoming birth, she wished for death. The alley, littered with garbage and junkies, smelled of anticipation and piss. The dealer came toward the woman, seeking the credits she held tightly to her belly. "Yous needin somthin little mama?" "Please..hurry" she spoke, as another tidal wave of pain and nausea wracked her slight frame. The dealer pocketed the credits and prepared the spike. The short, sharp needle slipped easily into her neck. The coming contraction already dimming in the sweet explosion of the spike. As the fix took her mind, the labor took her body. The child came screaming into the world. The junkies came and went. She was not a priority. The few that happened to notice her, looked away as they passed.
Three hours later, the woman came out of the peak of the spike. The baby lay in a puddle between her legs. Yes, it sill lived. She could tell by the small shudders that moved it's limbs from time to time. What would she do with a baby? The by-product of bartering for a fix. Which fix, she did'nt know. She wrapped him in the shabby sweater she wore. Stumbling out of the alley, still high, she headed for the Junkman. He always bartered for anything and everything.
Sixteen years later...He was called the Junkdog. Vicious and as deadly as one if crossed. The Junkman called him Ridic. Everyone else called him Junkdog. Junkman had raised him true, to his own nature. That being rather unique. He had an uncanny knack for just knowing things. He heard when you were lying. He could smell one's history. He could see right through to your need. If he touched you he knew your fears. And if he got a taste of you, he knew your soul's destiny. Ridic seldom left the old man's side. He now handled most of the business. For Junkman was old when he had traded for the small bundle. He had given the mother enough cash to either kill or cure herself. Junkman knew what choice she had made.
There were very few people that did not like Junkman. Sliver was one. He had cause, he saw that cause every morning he looked in the mirror. The scar that ran from his hairline over his right eye down to his chin. The eye was gone, in it's place, the stainless steel mech-eye. Sure he could see at night. But the beauty of his face was forever marred. Sliver dealt in child slavery. Offworlding them to planets with appetites for such. Junkman never dealt with children. When they became adults...fair game. Revenge was never far from Sliver's mind, not in thirty years. His time would come. He was if nothing else, a patient man.
Ridic had cause for concern. For weeks, Junkman had started talking about leaving everything to him. Before Ridic had left him, two hours earlier, he had started again about leaving. This time Junkman had seemed so adamant and had even grabbed his shirt to pull him close. When he did, he had licked a drop of sweat from his cheek, stared at him and said, "don't you do it." Then walked away muttering "don't you do it... make the right choice, don't you do it." Ridic's greatest fear was that the old man would up and die on him. He knew that he would someday, but could not face the thought.
As he returned from the errand, he saw the great gate was ajar. He had locked it himself when he left. The hackles on the back of his neck rose. A great pit filled his gut. Like when he'd been punched in the stomach 'till he had passed out. That had happened on Sliver's turf, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was eight then. The smell of blood tickled the back of his nose. He felt his gorge rise as he tasted it on his tongue, hot, sweet, metallic, and fresh. The three wolfhounds that kept guard on the compound, littered the way to the warehouse. Dread threatened to paralyze him. But the years of Junkman's training took over. As he eased into the huge front room of the warehouse he could smell the lingering traces of Sliver. That scent had been ingrained for a long time. This part of the warehouse was used as a display room. Priceless rugs and row upon row of gems, jewelry, and unique world and offworld items filled the vast space. Looking up he saw what he feared most. Junkman was hanging in the center of the great room. Suspended between two of the massive support girders, he looked like a life-size puppet. Held spread eagle with wires coming off of him at all angles. Slip wire! "Oh Junkman..no!" Ridic whispered to himself. Junkman's weight and gravity were slicing him slowly into pieces. All the wires had to be released at the same time or death would be immediate. As Ridic stood paralyzed by his knowledge that there was nothing he could do by himself. Junkman raised his head. He was dead already, he just did'nt know it. His vocal cords rasped as the slip wire lay against them, "Son...dooo...'nt youuu.." His last words were cut off by the slip wire doing it's job. Junkman fell to the floor, piece by piece, like meat on a slaughter house line falling into the sorting bins. The wet thuds, of each piece of Junkman, were destined for a lifetime part in Ridic's dreams. The old man had never called him son. But he did almost every night thereafter, for the rest of Ridic's life.
That fateful night Ridic lost what humanity he had gained in life. Just as Junkman had feared and tasted in Ridic's sweat. The boy spent every waking, and dreaming, moment on what, where, how, and when Sliver's end would come. Of this fact there was no doubt.
Five long years would come and go before Ridic's chance for revenge would come.
Opportunity showed up at Ridic's front gate in the form of a twelve year old boy. As Ridic looked down at the boy, gaunt and shivering in the freezing rain, the child spoke, "It is time." After five years of waiting, Ridic knew exactly what he meant. Ridic took the boy by the hand and led him out of the cold.
The boy's name was Saafe. Sliver had taken the only things Saafe had left in the world, his eight year old twin sisters. Ridic knew all this when he took the boy's hand. He also knew the boy was dying...
Their plans took them two days. Saafe would go to Sliver's just as darkness came. Then he had to get to the sliding door on the balcony of Sliver's penthouse. Sliver always tried out his merchandise first. Ridic would be waiting on the roof above...
Ridic did'nt feel the cold wind on the roof. The fires of revenge burned hot in his veins, anticipation was his protection from the icy bite of the wind. Quiet as night he waited. (Just like the double-edged name he gave himself lightyears from this place and time)
Come on Saafe cut that alarm, Ridic thought to himself. Through the howl of the wind he heard what he was waiting for, the barest snick. There at the border of his imagination. Ridic launched himself over the edge of the roof. He hit the end of the rope that connected him to the building and smoothly continued into an arc which brought him to stand right before the door on the balcony. In five seconds flat he had cut through the transparent plex-steel door. He gave the waiting entrance a kick with his booted foot. The quick circle he had cut in the door fell silently to the plushly carpeted floor. Just as he slipped into the room he heard Saafe whisper to him, "he's in the john." Ridic nodded to the boy and took a position by the entrance to the room they were in. Ridic knew that the opening at the balcony door had set off an alarm, even though he could not hear it.
Sliver called to Saafe as he finished in the john, "Little man come show me what you are made of then I will let you know if we have a position for you...or not. Little man...where are you?" The wet thuds of the pieces of Junkman falling were suddenly before Ridic's eyes. The pain of it, a fresh knife in his gut. As Sliver entered the room Ridic quickly placed a garrot of slip-wire over his head. Then snugged it to just under the skin at Sliver's neck. The surprise in Sliver's eyes were just the start of satisfaction.
"Whoa now Junkdog, go easy with that wire!" Sliver said then coughed up some bloody spittle. "Your life is over thief of children...killer of old men...you will steal no more dreams" Ridic's voice was raspy with hate. "Like you did to junkman, I'm gonna do to you" With that Ridic pushed Sliver towards the balcony. "Your not going to get away with this. You're on the vid set right now" Sliver knew better than to try to pull away with the slip-wire already bitting into the meat of his neck.
As Ridic reached the door to the balcony he told Saafe to get out of the building. Saafe hesitated for just a moment then left the room.
The icy wind still whipped the heights surrounding Sliver's penthouse. As Ridic pushed Sliver to the railing of the balcony the old man's words came to him, "Do'nt you do it son..." It sounded as if Junkman were right beside him. Ridic shook his head and leaned Sliver over the railing. Then out of nowhere Saafe grabbed Ridic's hands and with all the strenghth left in his small frame he janked Ridics' hands to his frail chest. "That's for my sisters," the boy yelled.
The slipwire had completed it's job. Slowly the head turned to look at them as it left it's torso and continued it's descent to the pavement far below. Ridic and Saafe stood face to face. Saafe mouthed a silent thanks. Then pushed the body over the railing. Saafe with his arms still around Sliver plummeted with the torso, the way of the head. Ridic had made no move to stop the boy. He knew what Saafe was going to do when had grabbed his hands. It was the last thing he could do for Saafe. Because the boy would be dead before he met the ground.
The sirens could be heard in the distance. The floods from the peacekeeper's flyers were already lighting up the night as they serched for their prey.