Title: New Mecca, New Life
Author: Tater Chip Girl
Email: taterchipgirl AT gmail.com
Summary: What if Carolyn had lived? What happened to Riddick and and the others when they reached New Mecca? A New Meccan historian gives you the Rest Of The Story. Teaser for Knife's Edge, will change to reflect that storyline.
Disclaimers: Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick and their characters belong to Universal Studios. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
From the archives of the New Mecca Historical Society Database
Record Number: RIC919467894
Historian of record: Anton Padron of 3442A Merchant Street, Province 1, Mecca City, NM
Project: Family histories of New Mecca settlers, 2200 - 2300
Subject: The Richards Family of 321H Pilgrimage Road, Province 4, NM
File date: April 23, 2314
Rick Richards and his wives, Jack and Carrie, arrived on New Mecca in May of 2294. Richards and Carrie are pilots, Jack is employed by the New Mecca Department of Agriculture. Between them, the women have given birth to seven children, a girl and six boys - Shazza, Zeke, Greg, Solomon, Hassan, Ali, and Tom. (See attachments for current photos of all family members.)
Virtually nothing is known of Richards' past, but there are unconfirmed rumors that he arrived with eyes surgically altered for enhanced night vision, indicating either possible prison time or highly specialized military service (although no records can be found to prove either one). He has never volunteered information about his origins, and only smiles enigmatically when asked about his life before NM. He has formed few friendships over the years, preferring the company of his family and close friend Abu al-Walid, who is also his spiritual guide and teacher, as well as various members of the Robert al-Fayed family - in particular, the well-known doctor and herbalist Kate al-Fayed (see attachments for photos; cross-reference record number WAL919467894 and FAY4255669). He is an almost fanatically devoted father, and can often be seen shepherding several of his offspring around town when they accompany him on family supply runs or recreational outings. He rarely socializes outside his small private circle of family and friends, and then only to discuss business with colleagues and clients. He is sometimes seen accompanying al-Walid to the local Chrislamic mosque, or on meditational desert pilgrimages, although he himself is not a practicing Chrislam. Locals who have dealings with him describe him as "spooky", "creepy", and "unnerving" (see attachments). A large and powerfully-built man, he draws much female attention, but appears not to care. Despite his antisocial tendencies and intimidating presence, Richards has never been a troublemaker. He is, in fact, considered a model citizen. Working quietly behind the scenes with a small group of select pilots (including his wife Carrie) and NM import/export officials, he has helped settle trade disputes and increase shipping traffic and revenues in this region by an incredible amount in the past twenty years, allowing the New Meccan government to obtain much-needed water processors and build enough schools, housing and medical facilities to accomodate the growing population. When asked to accept a public commendation for his efforts, he refused, saying that he was only "setting things right" and did not deserve acclaim (see attachments).
Jack Richards' life before New Mecca is a mystery as well. She claims to be an offworld child bride given to Richards by her parents, whom she says were unable to care for her and died of a virus soon after the marriage bargain was completed. (It is assumed that Jack must have come from a small, distant and culturally isolated community, since at the time of her arrival on NM, arranged marriage of children under age 16 - she claimed to be 15 - had been illegal in this sector for over 120 years. She has never revealed her family's surname or the name of her homeworld.) Accounts given by some who met her at the time (see attachments) say she arrived with a shaved head. She expIained it as a family custom in which new brides ritually shave off their hair at the time of marriage, allowing it to grow back after the wedding. (A search of the cultural database shows no previous record of this custom being practiced among humans in this or neighboring sectors.) She was placed in school by Richards over her objections, but soon became interested in the local plant life, and began steering her education towards a career in agriculture. At 17, she gave birth to her first child, Shazza (Carrie gave birth to Zeke on the same day). Inspired by motherhood, she threw herself into her education and later her work, becoming an expert nutritionist and tireless promoter of organic farming and natural medicine. She holds primary degrees in non-chemical agriculture and biology, and secondary degrees in homeopathic medicine and holistic nutrition. She provides most of her family's medical care. She also volunteers her services as a nutritional consultant to various local medical facilities. Eight years ago, she was instrumental in pushing through legislation prohibiting the use of New Mecca as a dump for offworld mining waste (see attachments). She is currently pregnant with her fourth child, a girl, who will be named Paris. The child is due in roughly two months.
Carrie Richards (formerly Carolyn Fry) was a flight officer for a major shipping and transportation company before coming to New Mecca. Not long before her arrival, she was involved in a shipping accident, in which her transport was shot down over a little-known planet by an intense asteroid shower that disabled the ship and killed most of the passengers and crew. She was one of only four survivors, including Richards, Jack and Abu al-Walid, also called Imam. (Several others survived the crash, but died on the planet, killed by a birdlike, carnivorous native life form. The planet has since been quarantined, and this species is being researched. See attachments). In a statement taken by NM medical personnel after their arrival (see attachments), she claimed that she and Richards had been married on board the shipping transport before takeoff, with the ceremony performed by the captain, who later died in the accident. Richards, she said, had been traveling to New Mecca with his first bride, Jack, when they met and decided to marry. Carrie resigned her position with the company shortly after her arrival here, and was hired by a locally-based transport cooperative, for whom she and her husband still work. She holds black belts in several martial arts disciplines, and spends some of her free time as an instructor. She conducts natural disaster emergency drills around Province 4, and trains novice pilots in flight safety.
Abu al-Walid is a frequent visitor to the Richards home, and is considered a family member. He is godfather to all their children, three of whom - Ali, Hassan, and Solomon - are named in honor of his late sons, who died in the transport crash before he came to NM with the Richards family. The family prefers not to speak of this time, saying it is still too painful for them. They are close-knit, loyal and extremely protective of each other. They also enjoy uncommonly good health.
The family resides in a unique and constantly-expanding home (see attachments for photo) located on a hill about ten miles west of Mecca City. The house is comprised of a series of merged prefab modules, assembled and customized by Richards and his wives. Over the years, new modules have been added to keep up with their growing family and to house Jack's large indoor garden, which provides most of the family's food. Also housed there is Richards' workshop, where in his spare time he builds furniture for their home, and sometimes for sale.
Zeke and Shazza (both 18), the two eldest Richards children, have developed a talent for wood- and metal-working, and plan to someday go into business together. Shazza's intricate designs in particular (see attachments for photo) have captured local attention, and she hopes to eventually export them for offworld sale. Zeke is engaged and planning to marry his first wife in the fall. He and his father have nearly finished construction on a home for the newlyweds in Province 3. Solomon (age 16) has decided to enter the law enforcement field as soon as he completes his education, and has already transmitted his training application. Hassan (age 15), Ali, and Tom (both 13) have all developed a keen interest in cybernetics, and spend much time together building experimental devices in a corner of their father's workshop. Hassan is, in fact, attending accelerated classes, and is a top candidate for an offworld scientific scholarship. Richards has been heard joking that he will soon have to build "a whole new house" just for his sons' "robotic chop shop".
Greg (age 16) is, unfortunately, on the wrong side of the law - he is currently being held and questioned about several recent robberies and acts of vandalism (see attachments). He is known for physically assaulting his classmates - when he attends classes at all. Greg's penchant for crime and violence is one of the few things that causes Richards to become visibly upset. Recently, Richards was overheard in public discussing Greg with Abu al-Walid, saying, "I shoulda known it would come back and bite me in the ass." (See attachments.)
The Richards family seems driven to serve its adopted community through volunteering, education and plain hard work. Many other residents have commented on their apparent lack of desire for monetary gain and public recognition. Even Jack, while unavoidably placing herself in the public eye during the Offworld Dumping debates eight years ago, chose not to accept a prestigious and lucrative position as an NMDA executive. She is quoted as saying, "I can do more good down here than up there." (See attachments for complete media accounts.)
Since their arrival here 20 years ago, they have shown an almost frantic desire to improve their surroundings and and the quality of life for their children and their fellow New Meccans. Family life is of utmost importance to them. Their devotion to their children and to each other is, by all accounts, unshakeable, and a source of great envy among their neighbors. They seem to have achieved a level of internal harmony not present in many multi-spousal homes. The children call their two mothers "Mama C" and "Mama J". Although child care is shared among the three adults and two oldest children, Jack is considered their primary caretaker, since her work rarely takes her offworld, as do pilots' duties. However, the two pilots never accept runs outside the local shipping region, in an effort to stay as close to home as possible. Richards is especially adamant about not spending too much time away from his family, and both try to schedule their runs so that only one of them is gone at any given time. The only blot on their record is 16-year-old Greg, who does not share his family's work ethic or humanitarian views. It remains to be seen whether he will change his ways.
Admittedly, most of New Mecca is made up of offworlders, people starting new lives and seeking better fortunes - but few have origins as clouded as the Richards family. Even their children know nothing of their parents' pre-NM lives. Perhaps someday they will tell their real story. As a historian, and one who loves a good mystery, I sincerely hope that I am here when it is told.