(AN) Sorry about the incredibly long amount of time between updates. I am working on this, but as I said before, I'm not quite sure what to do with it. I have a vauge idea where I want it to end up, but I don't really know how to get it there. Makes writing it troublesome.
She woke. It was a slow process, gradually clawing her way up from oblivion. She was in a narrow bed—a hospital bed—and the room was very bright. There was an old woman by the bed, watching her intently. She was white—skin, hair, clothes, everything white.
"Welcome back," the woman said.
"What?" she asked, noting that her throat scratched from lack of water. Then she wanted to roll her eyes at herself. 'What'? That was the best she could do?
The vague question didn't seem to phase the woman. "I'm going to call the doctor," she said calmly. "Then I'll answer your questions. I'm sure you have several."
A moment later there was another woman. She was younger, sharp and efficient looking. Doctor?
"How are you feeling?" the new one asked as she examined the monitors around the bed.
"I'm…" she paused, considering. "Strange. Fuzzy."
"That'll be the drugs. How many fingers?"
"That's right. Do you know where you are?"
Sterile. White. Doctor.
"Close. What about the year?"
She thought, came up blank. "Don't know," she said with a frown.
"I doubt she knew that before," commented the woman in white.
"That's fine. Can you tell me your name?"
She opened her mouth with a sense of relief—finally something she could be sure about. But she stayed silent. Nothing came to mind, nothing passed her lips. Moving on instinct, she pulled away from the other women.
"What the hell? What the fuckin' hell is going on?"
"I see her vocabulary hasn't been affected," said the white one.
"Relax," the doctor said. "It's alright. You need to take it easy, okay? You shouldn't be exerting yourself this soon after-"
"After what?" she demanded, backing up farther. "What did you do to me?"
Soft, soothing words fell from the doctor's lips. They were drowned out by a voice in her own head.
Trapped, it snarled. Get out, escape, run…
She tried to obey, but when her feet hit the floor it heaved beneath her. She stumbled a few steps, ignoring wires and needles as they were torn from her skin. Then the colors of the room started to run together, and she fell.
"When are you going to tell the Lord Marshall?" asked the new doctor nervously.
Aereon considered refusing to answer the question, but there was a chance this woman would be the focus of at least some of Riddick's wrath.
"It would have been better to tell him immediately, but I needed time to get your predecessor out. At this point, I think it would be best to wait until she's stable and coherent." The Elemental paused. "She will be stable and coherent soon, yes?"
"Unless there are further complications or a relapse. I don't anticipate either. The treatment is working remarkably well."
"She doesn't remember her own name," Aereon pointed out.
"That's not necessarily a bad sign in her case, Aereon."
Not medically, at least. But Aereon remembered the deal she had made with Riddick, remembered the exact words he had used.
"But if you try, and she don't live, I'll make what the Necros did before look freakin' merciful."
The body was alive, but Aereon wasn't sure that whatever had made the girl 'Kyra' was still there. She wondered bleakly if Riddick would consider that the same as death.
She didn't want to think of the consequences if he did.
"Riddick!" her daughter cried, leaping into the man's arms.
"Hey, kid," Riddick said. He gave her a quick, awkward hug, and set her back on her feet. "Whatcha up to?"
Ziza made a face. "Lessons."
"Oh." He looked up at Lajjun. "Sorry to interrupt."
She shrugged. "Don't worry. We weren't getting very far anyway. Someone isn't in the mood to concentrate."
Ziza babbled at Riddick, oblivious to her mother's exasperation. Riddick, for his part, was used to this by now. He just gazed down at her, making interested noises in the appropriate places.
Watching them, Lajjun smiled slightly. They hadn't seen Riddick in nearly a week, and Ziza had clearly missed the man. She was grinning up at him, bouncing with excited energy.
By contrast, Riddick looked worn. He leaned against the wall, shoulders slumped. His brow seemed permanently furrowed, and there was more stubble on his jaw than he usually let grow.
She'd been hearing a lot of rumors lately. They said the talks were going badly, that the Lord Marshall was working nonstop to prevent a war. It probably didn't help that most the Necros were hoping he would fail. And there were others rumors, too, about Riddick himself. People said he'd been acting strangely—losing track of conversations, responding to comments no one had said.
It was no wonder, if he was running himself ragged. If she could look at Riddick and actually see that he was tired, he must actually be on the verge of collapse…
"I'm fine," he snapped.
Lajjun frowned at him. Had her concern been that obvious?
Ziza's monologue paused. Her face was confused.
"Why wouldn't you be?" she asked.
She ached. Everywhere.
She opened her eyes to a bright, sterile room. At least this time it was somewhat familiar. The old woman was gone, and the younger one was facing away from her, frowning down at a computer screen.
"Doctor?" she said. Her voice was still weak.
The other woman jumped, then turned and walked to her bedside.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Like shit. Who are you?"
The woman smiled. "Dr. Mina Tarres, at your service."
She blinked. "That's nice. Who am I?"
"You don't remember?"
"I remember not remembering." She took a deep breath. "I remember flipping out about it."
"That's a good sign," Tarres said encouragingly.
The doctor gave her shoulder a comforting squeeze.
"You're my patient. I'm told your name is Kyra."
"Kyra," she repeated, trying it out on her tongue. "Kyra?"
She'd been hoping for recognition, emotion, anything. But it was just a word, like any other.
"May I talk to you, Riddick?"
He glanced at the Elemental as she fell into step beside him.
"Course. What's up?"
"How to ensure he doesn't…" a voice whispered, then trailed away. Riddick ignored it.
"We have a situation."
He sighed. "Don't we always. Who's fucking up this time?"
"It's Kyra," she said.
Riddick stopped walking.