It took him a second to figure out where he was. When he did, he reached for a shiv and fingered the cool metal briefly. It was calming. There was a familiar figure in front of him. He came up close behind her without her noticing. She was hunched over, peering at the solar model that had clued them in five years ago. Sweat glued her short hair to her scalp. She smelled like dust.

"Carolyn," he greeted her.

She jumped, then turned. "Oh," she said. "It's you."

"Yeah." He reached around her and spun one of the little plastic planets on its axis. "Whatcha doin' with this?"

"Watching the eclipse," she said.

"The eclipse is over," he told her.

"Is it?"

He looked at the model again, and it looked different. Was that the Helion System? He looked closer. He saw cities burning, children dying, thousands at a time dropping to their knees. He saw heavenly pillars of light crumble into darkness.

"But you don't care about all this," she said, and she was right. "What are you doing here?"

What was he doing here?

She never forgave you.

He vaguely remembered that Abu had said those words, but he was gone. No one was saying them now—they just were. Riddick's hands tightened into fists. There was a little smirk on Fry's face.

"I shoulda known," she said. Her voice rose, and she chanted, "Yes, her eyes are very bright, but, alas they're minus sight. She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother."

Riddick frowned. "Her mother's dead."

Fry rolled her eyes. "Well? C'mon, then Billy-boy." She hummed under her breath as she led him outside.

"Why'd you call me that?" he asked.

The other planet loomed on the horizon. The light was going fast. Fry didn't seem to care, or even notice.

"Why not?" she answered.

Carolyn led him into one of the buildings. Looked like it had been someone's home, once. From behind a door came a deep, gravelly voice. Singing.

"You make me happy, when skies are grey…"

Carolyn knocked on the door, then opened it just enough to stick her head in. "Someone to see your girl," she said.

A pause. "C'mon in, then," said that harsh voice.

Carolyn pushed the door the rest of the way open, and Riddick followed her into the room. Jack was there, sprawled on a large, cobweb covered bed. There was a man seated at the head of the bed. She lay half in his lap.

Not a man. A skeleton.

Jack looked up at him and smiled. "Riddick. Been awhile. What're you doing here?"

"Looking for you," he said. "I missed you."

Her smile grew, and she sat up. "I missed you too, big bad."

"Who's this?" Riddick asked, looking at the thing behind her.

She giggled. "Who's he look like?"

The skeleton leaned down, pressed his jaw to her forehead. It might have been a kiss. "I'll leave you two to talk," he said.

"You sure you don't mind?" Jack asked.

"Nah," the skeleton said. "I've got work to do, anyway. And I'm sure you have a lot to catch up on. Carolyn will help me out, since you're busy. Won't you, Carolyn?"

Riddick glanced at the blonde. She was frowning. "You're not my master," she said.

"Of course not. You're just doing a few friends a favor. Come, my dear pilot."

The skeleton took Fry's arm, and they were gone. Riddick turned back to Jack. She'd flopped back down on the bed and was staring up at him, a soft, sweet look on her face.

"We used to argue, remember?" she said. "All the time. About the stupidest things—never about anything important. We could go on for ages and get off topic and switch sides right in the middle, and we'd never miss a beat. Drove Abu crazy."

"I remember," he said.

"When we got bored, we'd ask what Abu thought. Sometimes that would be the end of it—sometimes what he said would spark off a whole 'nother round."

"That… guy," Riddick said. "He treat you right?"

She blushed, looked down. "Better than you did."

His jaw clenched. She looked up.

"Don't be jealous," she said. "You're the only one I ever liked arguing with."

He frowned. "Jack—"

X

He woke to the sound of a harness releasing. His head still ached, but it was quieter now, barely registered. Riddick opened his eyes, hidden behind his goggles, but kept the rest of his body still. It was the woman, the merc-bitch. She was breathing hard. Riddick closed his eyes again and listened as she came closer.

He felt the heat of her body as she leaned over him. She smelled of sweat and… yeah, she'd been having better dreams than he had. Riddick wondered idly who she'd been dreaming about, and if he'd been chained up, too.

She hesitated there for a moment, then slid his goggles up onto his forehead.

He opened his eyes. She wrenched back, and he snapped his thighs together, catching one of hers in between. The light was just right—not too bright, not too dark—for him to catch a bit of color. Her hair was dark, and her eyes were green. He wondered if she would actually spread her legs for him.

But she got off on chains. Maybe she got off on pain, too. Not worth the risk.

"Do you know you grind your teeth at night?" he asked.

Fear now, in those pretty green eyes. She didn't like being the one trapped.

"Sexy."

She jerked away, and he let her.

X

Toombs settled back into his seat, coming down from the adrenaline hit that was a typical landing on Crematoria.

"I think I shit myself," muttered Bud.

"Skittish, Toombs," said Riddick. Toombs didn't have to look at the con to know he was smirking. "Very skittish."

Toombs gritted his teeth and reminded himself how much dough this dickhead was going to fetch him.

X

Twenty-nine point four kilometers from the hanger to the main pit. Tunnels the whole way, and a sled if you could get it.

Riddick was still considering the logistics of it while they strung him up by his wrists. He stayed docile throughout the process—didn't even bother throwing in a wisecrack. He could tell it was making Toombs jumpy.

Riddick focused all his attention back on the present when they started lowering him. It was like being dropped into a goddamn volcano. He remembered Toombs' comment about living in hell.

The rope stopped lowering abruptly, jerked his shoulders.

He tried to listen to the discussion going on above him. Sounded like the usual—mercs and guards having a pissing contest over who got what cut.

The roped started moving again.

"I'd take the money, Toombs," Riddick called.

You wanna get paid, you better get it now, cause I ain't sticking around any longer than it takes to find my girl and get the hell out.

X

Fucking hell.

It couldn't be. It just was not possible. After all this time, after everything she had been through to land herself here, it could not be. She was hallucinating, she'd finally cracked completely, because no way was Riddick playing gymnast above her head right now.

Except he'd just managed to turn himself into a human yo-yo and use the force from his momentum to break the chain connecting his wrists. She wasn't sure her subconscious could have thought that up on its own.

He landed crouched on the pit's floor, and then the inmates were on him.

X

Riddick didn't wait for them to come to him.

One—he blocked the fist the fucker threw at him and slammed an elbow into his forehead. Tossed the other man aside, heard his head slam into stone—he was out.

Two—Riddick caught him by the throat and flipped him to the ground as well.

Three was charging him from behind—

Metallic clinks. A choked off cry. He spun in time to see the man break his own neck on the chain that had appeared around it.

Riddick's glance darted up the chain. She was at the other end.

She was standing in the shadows. Riddick ripped off his goggles to get a better look at her. Curls—long now, but still, the curls. He couldn't actually see from here, but he knew her eyes were bright green. She was staring at him, he could tell that. Her body was long and lean. Her face was more arresting than it had been before, like she'd needed time to grow into her features before they could have their full impact. And oh, she had. She'd grown up beautiful, just like he'd known she would.

"There are inmates…"

She glanced away.

"…And there are convicts."

X

"A convict," Guv continued as he headed down the stairs, "Has a certain code. And he knows to show a certain respect."

He saw Kyra slip away. There must be something about this one, something very different, if she had done him a favor first thing. Guv remembered his own ongoing debate with her.

Fighting his fights, Guv thought. That make him your new bitch, Moloch?

He had to bite back a smirk as he said, "An inmate, on the other hand, pulls the pin on his fellow man. Does the guards' work for them. Brings shame—" He kicked one of the fuckers, "—to the game. So, which are you gonna be?"

"Me?" asked the other man. "I'm just passing through."

Guv watched him walk away. Yeah. Something different.

"Welcome to Crematoria," he muttered.