Author: Lee sanguinepen
Fandom: The Chronicles of Riddick
Word Count: 1800
Rating: R for violence
Notes: Making up a past for Vaako since there is nothing in canon to go by.
The sun was breaching the horizon. Golden rays caught between the jagged mountain peaks and fading storm clouds darkened by dust and smoke. I waited, leaning on the pommel of the sword that I carried. Its blade was etched with fine runes that had been stained with the blood of those who had been my friends, my people and were now the enemy. Soon it would run with the blood of my family.
My lips tasted of salt and the coppery tang of my own blood, and a cut beneath my eye itched. I pulled off one gauntlet to scratch at the drying blood. The cut meant nothing to me. I felt no pain, and the one who had given it to me never would again. I’d left him in pieces on the road to the capital like so many others who got in my way. He had been terrified of death, of the Necromongers, and he was right to be.
When I’d offered him the choice to convert and be saved, I’d lied. I couldn’t let him join us. I remembered him from before. I wanted no one from my past to be part of my new life. No reminders of how I’d been used. No rekindled memories of the life that I might have had here. I had a better life now. I had a purpose. I wasn’t locked in the age-old trap of being the younger son of a secondary wife.
The Lord Marshal said that I have potential and promise. I’m glad that he thinks so considering it’s his potential and position that I want. I have read the words, studied the Faith, and I have learned to play the new game. He will learn to depend on me and my skill with weapons and leading men. I will be promoted through the ranks until he knows me by sight and by name. I will be loyal to him until it is his due time to die, and then I will take his place. I will accept no other alternatives. I will never settle for second place again.
“It is time,” I said before slipping the gauntlet back onto my hand, dried blood and mud flaked from the knuckles as I flexed them. They were tight around my fingers, protecting them without hindering my movements. My armor was the same. It appeared bulky, the black meant to instill fear in the masses of the unbelievers, but it was light and nearly as flexible as regular clothing.
I had the codes that would give us access to the palace, and the blood if the codes did not work. This was why I was important to the Necromongers. If I had not willingly converted, the quasi-dead would have ripped the knowledge from me. I had no doubt about their ability to mind rape even the strongest willed. But I didn’t fight them. I saw no reason to. With the Necromongers I had a future. With them I would have my revenge on my brother and his mother, the woman who had my father and mother killed and had effectively sold me to the Lord Marshal.
“Follow me.” My boots squelched in the mud, most was caused by the rain that had drenched us during the night, but the puddles near the dead were crimson. Their souls were lost. They would never see the Underverse. The fallen of my brethren would cross the Threshold for they had died in their due time in service to our Faith. We do not mourn them. They were lucky. They would live again in paradise.
The security codes had been changed as was to be expected, but my blood was still of the ruling house. I cut my thumb on the edge of my blade and let a trio of drops fall on the scanner. It was designed to read DNA and to establish if the blood was from the living. I hadn’t been one of the faithful long enough to become partially dead, so there was little chance of it rejecting me. The sound of grinding gears echoed through the narrow hall as the hidden door opened to let me and my men inside.
“Stealth is not required I told them. Kill anything that moves unless it begs to convert. But the Prince and his mother are mine. Capture them if you see them before I do—“ which I doubted they would—“but their heads are mine.”
I went at the end of the line, listening to the sounds of screams, pleas for mercy and the discharge of our guns. This was not my first battle with the Necromongers, but it would be the one I dreamed of for years to come. I’d worried that it would feel strange to walk through my old home, but it did not. I felt like a wraith dressed in my black armor, smiling when I saw the servants and nobles on their knees. Thankfully none of them called my name not enough of my face was visible through my helmet.
“They are locked in the Prince’s chambers, sir.”
“That is to be expected. Prince Afton isn’t much of a warrior.” He could barely keep a dagger in his hand when we would spar as children. I’d cut him so many times, never meaning to hurt him, that I’d lost count. Back then he didn’t hold it against me before his mind was poisoned against me by his mother’s black tongue.
When I came to the hall outside my brother’s chambers the lensors were chittering to each other, while they focused their attention on the life that they could see through the heavy doors and walls. “Blow the door off its hinges,” I ordered, stepping back a safe distance to avoid the heat and shrapnel. Dying now would not be in my due time. I would not fall until Afton and that bitch that suckled him died first. I couldn’t take the chance of them converting and me seeing them again in the Underverse.
There was a howl, a blast and the heavy doors were torn apart, hanging like torn and tattered draperies, their edges still glowing red hot as I stepped into the room. I hadn’t been there in a dozen years. It wasn’t permitted once Afton was named the heir. Debris crunched under my boots as I walked toward the wall that housed the panic room. I removed my helmet and tossed it to the side, smiling before the cameras that I knew were tracking us from inside.
“Is this any way to welcome me home?” I asked as I rapped my knuckles against the door. I knew that they couldn’t hear me knocking, but so much of what we do is for show. I’d been learning that by watching the Lord Marshal and the Purifier. “I made sure that the escape hatches were sealed before we came inside, mother. You and Afton can come out, or you can cook. Believe me when I tell you that I have a weapon that can liquefy the walls of your panic room. Of course before that happens, the two of you will roast like pigs in an oven. I’m sure it’s a painful way to die. You have three minutes.”
I stepped away from the door and waited. She would do anything to save her son, and he anything to save her. They had an unnatural affection for each other that even my father had noticed. I turned to my men and had them set the charges. I counted the seconds under my breath, which caught when the door slid open. It was probably the last door in the city that functioned properly.
“Hello brother,” I said with a smile.
Afton came out first. His clothes were torn and covered in blood. I thought that was strange since he’d have had his men do the fighting for him. The same men that I had trained with growing up, but somehow he’d managed to get hurt. Good. “Miles. You can’t do this. Promises were made to protect us!”
“Promises, is that what you call it?” It took me too long legged steps to reach him and place my knife beneath his throat. His skin was as white as death, and he was shivering. “Your mother brokered a deal to protect our father from the Necromongers. Well in case you didn’t notice, Afton, he’s dead.”
“How dare you!” There she was. I kept my knife at my brother’s throat when his mother finally slithered out of the panic room. Her hair looked like raptors had used it for a nest, but other than that she looked none the worse for wear. “You are not welcome here.”
“I never was, was I?” I pressed my blade against his throat while my men raised their weapons. She and I both watched as a bead of his blood ran along the edge, filling the delicate runes that were carved there to match my sword. I might be a Necromonger, but I still loved the fine things in life. We all did. “Your deal was null and void when my father and mother died, my lady. You should have been more careful when you made your deal to get rid of me. Didn’t you remember the old stories about making wishes with genies? You have to be very, very careful of how you word them.”
The Lady Vaako snarled at me and lunged, but my men caught her and held her back. One had her hair wrapped around his gauntleted and tears ran down her face from the pain. “Let him go. We’ll convert!”
“Is that what you think I want?” I sank the point into Afton’s flesh another centimeter. New blood ran free, leaving a trail down his neck to his chest. “I don’t want you. We want this world. You are not welcome in the Underverse.” I drove the knife into him then with a twist, before he could protest and her screams filled the air, drowning out the sound of our weapons and ships. Afton clutched at the ruin of his throat and pitched forward onto his face in a spreading puddle of his blood.
“We keep what we kill,” I said quietly as I turned from my brother’s corpse to smear his blood on his mother’s face. “And I give this world to the Lord Marshal.”
“What about me!?” she cried, running to Afton’s cooling corpse when my men set her free.
“You will die here, but you will not be saved. You will not be converted. I will see to that.” I left her there, crying over him and gave one final order on my way out the door. “Kill her. Then round up those who are willing to convert. The Lord Marshal wants the city leveled by nightfall.”