It was three hours later when Chris finally came downstairs. He did not look any better than he did earlier, but he was clean and shaven. He wore his dark sunglasses that hid his strange eyes and strolled over to the table where the priest, the gambler and the bounty hunter sat.
He took a seat next to Vin and held his hand up for Kitra to come for his order. He saw that the others were busily eating breakfast. Chris looked at their meals, feeling the hunger pains since he had not eaten since yesterday morning, but his stomach turned at the thought of food and he looked over to the bar to see what was keeping Kitra.
Kitra finally came sauntering over to their table and looked at Chris angrily.
“What? What did I do now?” exclaimed Chris noticing the anger that was hardly veiled in the woman’s eyes.
“You have drunk enough! It is time to eat,” said Kitra her eyes glaring at him.
Vin smiled under the hand that covered his mouth, Josiah snorted at the woman’s boldness and Ezra averted his eyes from the two, knowing that Kitra could be a formable opponent when it came to getting her way.
“I’m not hungry,” Chris growled.
“You have to be, Mr. Larabee. You have not eaten since yesterday morning. Even you need sustenance.”
“Ezra, mind your own damn business!” snapped Chris.
“I am minding my own damn business, as you so put it, Mr. Larabee. You are my business at the moment and if something happens to you then I am out a considerable fortune,” said Ezra smiling gently at the blond.
“Ya know, Ezra. We never did have that talk,” said Chris ominously.
Ezra only smirked at him considering how many times Chris had threatened him with bodily harm and had yet to collect on them. “Mr. Larabee, if I may as to be so bold, I think that wallowing in guilt and remorse at what you could not prevent is a waste of valuable energy.”
At the comment, Chris moved across the table, grabbing the green eyed merchant by the lapels and pulled him towards him.
Josiah shocked at the action, moved to try and prevent the blond from his attack, but Chris pushed him aside easily. Vin only stood by silently watching the altercation, blue eyes focused on the two men.
“Ezra, you just don’t know when to leave it alone,” hissed Chris shaking the man.
“Mr. Larabee, if you would please unhand me, sir.”
“Or what, Ezra?” asked Chris shaking him some more.
All of sudden, all three men heard the distinct hum of a laser pistol being charged. Chris looked down and found his chest pressed against a small laser pistol in the hand of the gambler.
“Now, Mr. Larabee, I suggest you retake your seat and we will settle this like gentlemen or I will put a hole in you so big, Mr. Tanner there will be able to see through you,” said Ezra, his voice low and calm.
Chris smiled at him wickedly, but slowly released the man’s clothing and retook his seat in the booth.
“Ezra, I swear. One of these days, your luck’s going to run out,” said Chris smiling wickedly back at him.
“The odds are greatly in favor of that, Mr. Larabee. But not today it seems,” said Ezra replacing his weapon back into its concealed hiding place.
Chris sighed and said, “So, what do you suggest I do, Ezra?”
“I suggest you listen, carefully, to what Mr. Sanchez has to say.”
“Okay. Let’s hear it, but it better be good,” said Chris leaning further back into the booth seat he occupied.
With Chris’ agreement to listen, Josiah Sanchez started telling him what he knew about Chris’ abilities, the Necromongers and the trouble that was brewing in Necropolis.
Chris listened, as patiently as he could. When Josiah had finished, he leaned forward and stared directly at the ex-priest.
“So what is it you want me to do?” asked Chris.
“You Chris have the power to stop them,” said Josiah frankly. “It’s the reason why I am here.”
Chris burst out laughing, but the laughter never reached his eyes. “And how do you think I can do this, pr…Josiah? I mean, come on, I’m nothing but a hired gun, a criminal.”
“No. You are not, Chris. You’re more than that, whether you want to believe it or not. Just come back with me to New Mecca and I can prove it.”
“And how do you plan on doing that, Mr. Sanchez?” asked Ezra curious. He too wanted to know what the ex-priest had in mind.
“Travis and I have an Elemental who had verify your abilities,” admitted Josiah. He had wanted to wait until they were in New Mecca but they were running out of time.
“An Elemental?” questioned Ezra. “I thought they were only myths, Mr. Sanchez.”
“No, Ezra. They are very much real. They just don’t show themselves often to us humans and interfere less in our affairs.”
“But for some reason they are now,” stated Vin.
Josiah looked at the quiet bounty hunter. He forgot that he was there.
“Yes, they are. In fact, it was because of the discovery of Chris being alive that they have come out of their self-inflicted exile. They were the ones who told us that Chris had the power to stop the upheaval that was beginning in Necropolis.”
“Why should I care?” spat Chris angrily. “The people you want me to help are the same ones that condemned me. Do I look stupid to you?”
“No, Chris. No, you don’t, but what about your mother, Chris? She’s in just as much danger as those people,” said Josiah using his last resort to change the man’s mind.
“Well, you see, Josiah she and I have an understanding. I stay out of Necropolis and she makes sure that I live.”
“But she thinks you’re dead, Chris. No one in New Mecca or Necropolis knows you’re alive except myself, Councilman Travis, Ezra here and now Vin Tanner.”
“And what do you think will happen once your good citizens find out that I am? Do you think they’ll welcome me with open arms, or maybe they’ll just mind wipe me clean or just send me back to Crematoria? I ain’t going back, Josiah,” responded Chris.
“Mr. Larabee has a point there, Mr. Sanchez. I can’t see myself being mind wiped or sent to that dreadfully hot place,” piped up Ezra.
“And who said you were going?” asked Chris pointedly.
“He has to Chris. In fact, anyone who has been associated with you needs to either disappear or come with us. They won’t be safe otherwise.”
“And I can tell ya, Pard, it’s hard to disappear with the Vicar followin’ ya. Sometimes I think they got eyes in the back of their heads.”
“They don’t have eyes in the back of their heads, brother, but they do have a seer and she sees everything, including this conversation I am having with you now.”
“If that’s the case, why bother. Once they know I ain’t going then they won’t have to bother me or anybody else.”
“They won’t let you live, Chris, at least not unless you join them. They are on a mission, convert or kill.”
“You think the Vicar would bother with the likes of him?” chuckled Chris.
“Yes, I would, brother. Especially, him and any one that helps you.”
Chris shook his head, unbelieving, but Vin eyes held something else.
“I haven’t said much about this, Chris, but I think ya need to take the priest here seriously. I’ve dealt with the Vicar and their not a forgivin’ group. I’ve seen them kill a whole village because they helped out someone that was after ‘em,” said Vin sadly.
“It was you they helped, wasn’t it?” asked Chris knowingly.
“Yeah. And they paid for it with their lives. Ya got to go, Chris. It’s the only way you can find out how to stop them and catch the man who killed ya family.”
“You don’t think he’s still here, do you, Vin?” Chris asked remembering his conversation with bounty hunter earlier in the room.
“He leaked out of existence, Chris. I think the only way we goin’ to find ‘im, is to find out who’s behind this. I have a feelin’ that Zion Padder ain’t the one ya lookin’ for.”
“You think he’s working for someone?”
“Could be,” answered Vin.
Chris, although he had only known this man a short time, trusted his judgment of the situation. After all, he was one of the best bounty hunters around and he did not get that way through wrong assumptions.
“Okay,” said Chris finally. “I’ll go with you to see Travis. I just hope I ain’t digging my own grave.”
“Well Mr. Larabee, it seems you just might be digging all our graves, as you so delicately put it,” interjected Ezra.
“So when do we leave?” asked Vin as Kitra came over with a plate of food which she placed none too delicately in front of Chris.
Chris looked up at her with a glare.
“Eat!” was all Kitra said and went back to her place behind the bar.
“Well, as soon as Chris finishes eating and I have a word with your local healer again.”
“Well, Mr. Sanchez, I can take you to Mr. Jackson’s abode and Vin here can I see that Mr. Larabee digests everything on his plate,” smirked Ezra rising from his seat.
Josiah stood up also and chuckled at the remark, but saw that Chris did not think it was so funny, so he ended up stifling it a bit short.
“Just be back soon, Josiah. I may change my mind if you wait too long.”
The two men left Vin alone with Chris to enjoy his meal.
As Chris took a bite of the bread from his plate, he saw the look Tanner was giving the two men as they strolled out of the establishment.
“What’s on your mind?” asked Chris.
“I think we’re in for a hell of ride with those two, Pard,” said Vin jokingly.
Chris smiled and nodded. He had the same feeling also.
It was not until sundown when Ezra and Josiah returned with Nathan Jackson.
They had been explaining to Nathan the current situation and had persuaded the young healer to join their group to New Mecca.
Although Nathan had doubts at first about their story, he had no doubt when it came to Connell that trouble was not far behind. He just could not believe that now it included him.
They walked into the inn and found that Chris and Vin were nowhere in sight. Ezra walked over to Kitra and Nathan watched as they whispered back and forth to each, with Kitra ending the conversation by pointing up the stairs.
Ezra then walked back to his new associates and said, “They have adjourned to Chris’ room.” He then proceeded up the stairs with Josiah and Nathan following close behind.
When they got to the stairs they found the door slightly ajar and Ezra pushed it opened all the way.
Vin was sitting again in the only chair in the room, his face one of concern. He looked briefly at the others as they entered and went back to watching the door that led to the bathroom of the room.
Ezra closed the door behind him, Josiah and Nathan and asked, “Chris?”
“In there,” replied Vin nodding towards the bathroom door.
“Sick?” asked Nathan. He knew when it came to Connell that he would suffer silently in pain before telling anyone.
“Guess. He ran in there and ain’t come out yet,” answered Vin, apprehension in his eyes.
Nathan shook his head. He knew there were some side effects but usually they did not last very long. “How long he been in there?” asked Nathan.
“’Bout a few minutes now. Was expectin’ ‘im out a while ago.”
Nathan walked determinedly up to the door of the bathroom and knocked hard. “Connell? You alright in there?”
There came no answer and Nathan was afraid that the side effects were worst than he thought.
After a few minutes, the door flew open and Chris stood in the doorway of the bathroom glaring at them, sweat beading on his forehead, his face pale in the room light.
“Can’t a man be in his own bathroom without a crowd gathering?” he exclaimed.
“You feeling sick, Connell?” asked Nathan grabbing the man’s wrist and trying to take his pulse.
Chris jerked his arm from the healer’s grasp and walked quickly to sit down on the bed, his body hunched over and his hands clasped in his lap. To tell the truth he was not feeling very well and had just thrown up everything he had ate, but he would not let these men know it. To show how ill he was would be a definite weakness to him. He had learned that on Crematoria where the inmates looked for the soft point in a man and usually jammed a knife into it that it was better to suffer in silence.
“Chris, if you’re sick, then maybe we ought to stay a few days until you’re feeling better,” suggested Josiah.
“I ain’t…sick! I got a damn hangover!”
“He’s sick,” stated Nathan simply.
“Yep. He just don’t want to admit it!” added Vin smirking at the blond.
“I believe we should wait until he is feeling up to the challenge,” interjected Ezra.
“Hello,” said Chris annoyed and waving his hand in the air. “He’s still in the room, damn it! And he says we leave within the hour,” retorted Chris standing up on shaky legs.
As he did so, he felt the room tilt for minute and saw that Vin was about half way out of his chair, but stopped when Chris held his hand up for him to stay where he was.
Chris was determined not to admit that he was ill, rather he believed it was just a hangover and he had dealt with hangovers before. He needed no help from the Nathan’s witch doctoring or from any of the men in the room as far as he was concerned.
Vin eyed him quizzically, watching as he walked over to metal closet area in the wall, hoping that the man did not fall flat on his face.
Nathan on the other hand, was thinking the total opposite of Vin, standing close enough to catch the man if he did fall. He wanted the man to fall flat on his face, if not just prove he was right and the stubborn blond was wrong. Then he could do something for him.
Chris moved cautiously on to the floor of the small confine, grabbing some small items he kept hidden there. They were his belongings, what little amount they were. But it was all that he owned in the world right now.
Vin watched as the man gingerly starting pulling items out of it. One of things that caught Vin’s eyes was a hand laser. It looked to be one of great firepower and Vin knew it was not from Helion Prime. This weapon was way far too technologically advanced to come from his home planet.
An item like that would be hard to find on Helion Prime and cost high, considering the garbage that most of the weapon merchants on the planet sold. The only place that held weapons such as these were in Necropolis and the army of the Lord Marshal. Vin wondered where Larabee, a criminal and wanted man would have found it, let alone purchase it.
“I like the gun, Pard,” said Vin smiling appraisingly.
“Thanks,” answered Chris. “I brought some time back.”
“Not on Helion Prime,” stated Vin.
“Nope. In the Outer World territory, right after my escape from Crematoria.”
“And how did you come by so exquisite a weapon, Mr. Larabee without the funds to purchase it?” queried Ezra. He also knew fine weaponry when he seen it.
“Well, Ezra, that’s a long story, but suffice to say that Butcher Bay Prison reimbursed me for my time and trouble.”
Ezra smiled at that comment. Butcher Bay, the prison located on Crematoria where no one who was sent there ever came back. Except for Riddick the First and now, his descendant Chris Larabee.
He knew that basically Chris was trying to skirt the issue. What Chris was really saying was that he stole the money from the prison’s depository and purchased the weapon with said funds. Ezra was really starting to like the way this man thought.
Chris then removed two disks from a slot in the wall that was covered up by magnetic seal. Vin knew that anyone looking in the closet would not have seen them in that hidden spot. He was glad that Chris was a cautious man. That meant that he would never become a liability.
Chris placed the two disks in one of his pockets on his black jumpsuit. Before they disappeared into the clothing, Vin caught a glimpse of them.
He saw that one of the disks was an electronic imagery hologram, a 3 dimensional picture. Of what, Vin did not know. The other looked to be some sort of currency; probably a credit disk and Vin assumed there was still something of value left on it. It was probably the same disk that Chris had stolen from Crematoria and had used to purchase the gun he held in his hands.
“Well,” interrupted Nathan. “If we going to leave in an hour, I better get my things ready.” He then started to turn towards the door.
“What?” exclaimed Chris. “Who said you was going?”
“He did,” replied Nathan, pointing at Josiah.
Chris turned an angry glare at the big ex-priest. This was turning into a circus and Chris did not like it one bit.
It was enough he had to have Ezra tagging along, now Nathan. And although he and Nathan had shared a lot over the years, he did not want the man to come along.
Not that he did not like Nathan, he did. In fact he admired the man as he had watched him over the past three years scratched out a reputable profession among the incorrigible and destitute of Kovar.
It was the fact that he did not want the gentle healer to get hurt. Nathan, even though Chris would never admit it outright, held a special place in Chris’ heart. Chris knew that where they were about to go to was no picnic and it could cost whoever accompanied them their lives.
“This was your idea, Josiah?” asked Chris daring the man to deny it.
“Well, yes it was. Listen Chris, anyone who has any relationship with you is in danger from the Vicar. I want him to accompany us at least to New Mecca. Once there, Councilman Travis will find him a safe place for him until all this blows over.”
“And what if it doesn’t blow over, Josiah? What if the Vicar wins? What happens to Nathan then? Or for that matter to any of us?”
Josiah did not answer the questions because he had no answer. He would not lie to the blond and tell him that things would be okay. His naivety was destroyed long ago and it was the one reason why he had left the Church.
“I won’t lie to you Chris. I won’t lie to anyone of you,” said Josiah taking in all of the faces in the room. “I don’t know. But we have to try. I’m not giving up on this. It is the only viable solution.”
“Josiah, I am sorry to break the news to you. Having a fighting chance and committing outright suicide ain’t in the same category as far as I’m concerned. And that’s what we’re doing. Be better if Vin here just shot me and got it over with.”
“Chris, we need you. You are the one who can make the difference between winning and losing. You and the others that the Elemental foretold who would join you.”
“Others? What others?”
“Again, I don’t know. Only the Elemental knows and that is why we must go to find out.”
Chris sighed. “Josiah, you asking a lot of me. I ain’t no savior. I’m just a man. A very tired one at that.”
“But you have the potential to be more, Chris. Much more and the Elementals will prove it.”
Chris eyes quirked at him in defeat. “I just hope you’re right, Josiah.”
“I am, Chris. I’d bet my life on it.”
“And you just may have to,” was all that Chris replied. He then turned to Nathan and said, “Go on and get your stuff, Nathan. But do me a favor. Leave that damn concoction you always pushing on my at home!”
Nathan smiled. Chris knew he was not about to leave without his medicinal herbs. It just gave the man something to complain about.
Nathan would let him complain and then ignore him completely. He knew Chris needed him and it was the only way he knew how to repay the man for saving his life so many times over the past three years.
“Sure, Chris. Anything you say,” answered Nathan patronizing. He then started to walk out of the room.
“Oh, Nathan,” called Josiah, before he could leave. “Make it quick. I don’t believe we have much time.”
“Will do, Josiah,” and he left for his home to pack.
“Well, it seems gentlemen that I need to make sure that my staff has my orders to be followed while I am in incognito and prepare my valuables for transporting on our little excursion,” said Ezra.
“Ezra. First of all, you don’t have staff. You have Kitra and she works for food and board,” interjected Chris. “And as far as valuables, let’s be realistic. You don’t have anything worth shit.”
“You are quite mistaken, my dear partner. I have acquired a lot of expensive and rare commodities in my tenure here in Kovar, enough that you may name it as small fortune, worth more than shit, if I say so myself,” said Ezra proudly.
“Well, if that’s the case, then you owe me for all the back pay for my services that you claimed you never had the funds for,” said Chris, his face teeming with delight.
“Ah… Well… That is to say… If you’ll excuse me, am I required elsewhere,” said Ezra and quickly disappeared out the door.
“Erza! Ezra you get back here!” screamed Chris at the open doorway. “You low down no good merchant sewer rat! Come back here and give me my money!”
Unfortunately, Chris’ ire was lost on Ezra. He had fled the scene and left the other two men with a very irate Christopher Connell Larabee, much to their surprise.
“Take it easy, Chris,” said Vin, trying to calm the blond down. “Remember. He’s going with us.” Vin grinned devilishly at the man hoping he caught on.
Chris caught on immediately. He smiled back and said, “Yeah. I guess it is going to be long ride, for Ezra anyway, ain’t it?”
Josiah did not like the looks that were plastered on the two men’s faces. He turned his eyes to the ceiling and thought, “Oh, Lord, you have sent this Christian into the Lions Den.” He shook his head in worry as the two new friends laughed loudly.