- "First and always, I am a Necromonger commander. So, if you're here to test my loyalty, you succeed only in testing my patience."
- —Vaako, speaking to the Purifier
History[edit | edit source]
Unusually young to have achieved such a high rank, Vaako was considered a fine commander, as dedicated as one could ask for and a superb solo fighter in his own right. Often, he is chosen as one of the Lord Marshal's favored commanders to lead the Necromonger forces in planetary assaults. A strict adherent to the tenets of Necroism, Vaako loyally followed the Lord Commander's will without question. Though he was a warrior, he was also pragmatic as well. When subjugating a newly conquered world, he believed in crushing resistance as quickly and ruthlessly as possible, so as to preserve as many enemy fighters as possible, to preserve them for purification and incorporation into the Necromonger Empire. For example, this tactic was utilized during the campaign on Helion Prime.
Helion Prime Campaign[edit | edit source]
After destroying most of Helion Prime's air defense network and air forces, the Necromonger forces proceeded to systematically overwhelm Helion's last pockets of resistance. In a display of absolute power, the Lord Marshal, his most trusted senior officers, the Purifier and an appropriately impressive ground force, marched in a Procession of Conquest to Helion Prime's capitol dome, purposely left intact by Vaako's forces. An appropriate place for accepting the capitulation of the planetary government. Vaako could have surrounded the dome with drop-ships, but marching up in good order across the approach bridge was far more dramatic. It served to testify to the complete dominance of the Necromonger force, and to its indifference to any defense the locals might have thought of mounting around their capital. Vaako understood the vagaries conquest.
In the central meeting chamber, the leaders of Helion waited uneasily. Politicians, bureaucrats, ministers, clerics, they waited and whispered while surrounded by an elite corps of Necromonger fighters led by Irgun. Some of the representatives had come willingly, hoping to negotiate the best possible terms of surrender for their people. Others had arrived with hopes of working with the conquerors. Still more had been rounded up and chivvied along against their will, unable to escape or turned in by the first of the inevitable collaborators.
Silence fell as the Lord Marshal and his retinue entered. Without fear or hesitation, Zhylaw started down the stairs toward the central dais. No one had to part the milling Helions for him. That he advanced alone, without flanking security, was not lost on the onlookers. Backing away, they gave him plenty of space, as if the radius of fear that surrounded him was a palpable thing and not just an impression. Mounting the dais, he took time to study his surroundings as the Purifier joined him. The Purifier then proceeded to attempt to coerce the Helion survivors to conversion to the Necromonger faith and be purified.
The gathered crown raised their voices in discontent. The Lord Marshal displayed his otherworldly power, showing the disbelieving crowd what happened to those that refused purification. Using his unnatural abilities, his ethereal self ripped the soul out of the body of a defiant politician, who protests fell silent, as the empty husk of humanity collapsed to the floor. One by one, row by row, the leaders of Helion Prime drooped to their knees in obeisance to the Lord Marshal. All, except for one figure that remained standing by the main entrance - Riddick.
Vaako frowned in annoyance. There was always one. One too obstinate or ignorant to conform. As the nearest senior officer to the mulishly defiant one, he took it upon himself to confront him. Patiently, he offered the interloper one last chance to accept the Lord Marshal's offer. Conscious of his larger audience, Vaako chose to exercise tolerance. For the sake of the defeated, it was useful to show that the reluctant could be persuaded as effectively with words as with weapons. One could blame this fool standing before him for his obduracy, but not for his ignorance. Riddick still refused. He had come to confront and kill the Necromonger who had killed his friend Imam Abu al-Walid. After killing the warrior, the Lord Marshal was intrigued at who this intruder could be. The Lord Marshal ordered Riddick to be taken back to Necropolis to be examined by the Quasi-Dead.
It is quickly discovered, that Riddick is the last survivor of the decimated Furyans. Everything that the Lord Marshal had seen and heard compelled him to kill the Furyan, but Riddick proceeded to escape from the Quasi-Dead's examination chamber and then from the Basilica itself. Making his way back to the surface, Riddick purposely activated the sensor he had found on the recently-acquired merc ship he had taken from the mercenary known as Toombs. Right on cue, Toombs and a group of Mercs showed up, and promptly took Riddick into custody. With their newly acquired bounty, they proceeded back to their hidden ship and left Helion Prime undetected.
Lingering Doubts[edit | edit source]
In the meantime, Vaako led his Galilee team, comprising his most acute Lensors, to the surface of Helion in order to find the wayward Furyan. After Riddick was caught by Toombs and his Merc crew, Vaako discovered that orbital units were able to make a pick up the ion trail subsequent to the indicated craft's supralight jump. Commander Vaako reported his findings to the Lord Commander. Zhylaw tasked Vaako, personally, with tracking down and killing Riddick. He ordered Vaako to take an entire squad in order for this purpose. If the Riddick had gone off-world, it was Vaako's duty to lens him out and cleanse him. The commander was caught off-guard, and incredulously questioned the Lord Marshal's orders. Enraged, Zhylaw shouted down the subordinate commander, ordering him to carry out his will. Reluctantly, Vaako obeyed and departed to carry out his orders.
As he made his way back to his private quarters, he informed his ambitious wife of his displeasure at carrying out such a mundane mission. Vaako believed it was a fool's errand, suitable for a mid-level officer and a squad or two of Elite. Why did the Lord Marshal need to assign a Commander of the Faith to supervise? For that matter, why care about one man, one breeder? Vaako began to doubt. Perhaps he had fallen from favor? He had done all that had been asked of him, both personally and professionally. What could he have overlooked that would lead the Lord Marshal to treat him this way? Using her artful mastery of manipulation, she convinced her mate to carry out the Lord Marshal's orders, until such time he revealed weakness that they could eventually exploit, to their mutual benefit.
The Lord Marshal's Secret[edit | edit source]
On their way down to the Necropolis, Dame Vaako and her husband take a detour to a sweeping balcony overlooking the central sanctum, to ensure their privacy. Unexpectedly, the floor below was occupied. Three people were there conversing in low voices. When Dame Vaako saw who they were, her initial intent in coming was quickly forgotten. On the main floor, the Lord Marshal and the Purifier were interrogating an Elemental. Dame Vaako reflected as she observed the exchange. There was something between the Elemental and the Lord Marshal that was difficult to discern from a distance. There was some tension between them, but also a familiarity. Intrigued, Dame Vaako vowed to get to the bottom of this mystery.
While the Commander was busy tracking down Riddick, Vaako's wife spoke to the Elemental Aereon who turned out to be a seer for the Lord Marshal. The Elemental revealed that the world of Furya was destroyed by the Lord Marshal when he was but a young warrior, after he was told of prophecy that a male child from that planet would destroy him. Dame Vaako informs her husband of this new information and how best to proceed in the near future. When the time is right, Vaako will kill the Lord Marshal, promoting him to Full Dead. Then, in accordance to the Necromonger tradition of, "You keep what you kill," the title of Lord Marshal would pass onto him.
Crematoria[edit | edit source]
Vaako manages to track down Riddick to the world of Crematoria, home of the infamous triple-max prison known as the Crematoria Slam Facility. Following a disagreement between the facilities guards and Toomb's mercs, a fight ensues. Taking advantage of the situation, Riddick leads a group of prisoners in a daring escape attempt, to reach the slam's hangar before the guards do. The guards managed to reach the hangar first, just as the prisoners arrived outside of the hangar doors. Just then the Necromongers arrive. Riddick and company are forced to fight the Necromongers. The warden, all of the guards and the remaining prisoners, aside from Kyra and Riddick, are killed and Riddick is incapacitated by Vaako. As the Commander and twenty of his men surround the Furyan menacingly, something unexpected happens, as Riddick somehow unleashes a hitherto unknown ability that takes out Vaako's warriors. (This ability is later to be revealed as the "Wrath of Furya.") Each and every Necromonger soldier unlucky enough to be standing within the radius of that expanding, palpable fury when it finally unleashed, were killed. Only Vaako escaped the devastating effects of the silent discharge.
Vaako struggled to his feet. Gathering himself, he focused his attention on the motionless, goggled, apparently un-breathing form of Riddick. From what he could see, whatever had detonated had killed the man Riddick as surely as it had flattened everyone around him. But good soldier that he was, Vaako wanted to make sure, needed to make sure. As he moved to make a closer inspection of the body, the sun flared over the top of the nearby mountain. The unrelenting sunlight began to make some of the Necromonger corpses begin to smolder. Vaako and those soldiers who had survived the mysterious blast effect fled toward their ship's landing zone. There were some things not even the implacable servants of Necropolis could face.
Day of Days[edit | edit source]
Upon his return to Necropolis, Vaako informed the Lord Marshal of the success of his mission. The breeder Riddick was dead. Vaako had left him dead following the peculiar and still unexplained incident that had also killed a number of his troops. Even if some small flicker of life had remained in the man, a few moments exposed to the raw sunshine of Crematoria would have been more than enough to reduce to ashes anything that remained. There was no reason to be second-guessing his actions. He’d been forced to move, and move fast, to save his own life and that of his surviving soldiers from the full force of the rising sun. It would not do for them to perish before due time.
In gratitude, Zhylaw ceremoniously promoted Vaako to the esteemed rank of Commander General. No higher rank could be achieved short of Lord Marshal. But despite achieving such accolades, Vaako was still not satisfied. But Dame Vaako reassured her husband. What more could he have desired from this episode, that began with such disagreement? He had managed to lay to rest both his enemy and the Lord Marshal's suspicions. Despite her reassurance, doubts still lingered within the newly-promoted Commander General. Ever the perfectionist, Vaako lamented that he had not brought back Riddick's head as undeniable proof. Dame Vaako could do nothing to assuage her husband's doubts. No matter how hard she tried to bolster him, it seemed he would be forever reconsidering his labors.
Vaako confided to his wife that he did not like that which he didn't understand. This Riddick had been no common breeder. Something happened on Crematoria, the likes which Vaako had never encountered before, nor heard reported. As Riddick had himself went down, he somehow managed to drop twenty of Vaako's team without raising a finger - no weapons, no gas; nothing. Dame Vaako reassured her doubting husband that all mysteries were not miracles. There was more than likely a perfectly sound scientific explanation for what Vaako had witnessed. But the Commander General remained unconvinced. But Dame Vaako explained, that such doubts did not become the Necromonger fleet's newest Commander General. He had said that he saw Riddick die, and left him dead. That was all that mattered. If Vaako had said he was certain about it, then it was certain. And who would dare to contradict the word of a Commander General recently anointed by the Lord Marshal himself?
Final Confrontation[edit | edit source]
Following the celebration, something had caused the Lord Marshal to abruptly enact the Ascension Protocol against Helion Prime, despite the fact that the planet had not yet been completely subjugated. But the Lord Marshal would take no chances, if by some dark miracle, Riddick was still alive. Caught off guard by the nature of the request, the Lord Marshal's subordinate officers moved quickly to enact his orders. Across the surface of Helion Prime, warships began to withdraw from sites they had been patrolling. Ongoing attacks were halted as vessel after vessel lifted and turned toward the rendezvous point near the capital. Foot soldiers raced for transports' loading bays. As Dame Vaako watched as columns of troops filed past the onlookers and into the Basilica itself, her eye was caught by a profile. One profile in a sea of profiles, all rendered vague and distorted by helmets and visors. Hurrying into the ship, she moved fast as she labored to catch up to the officer she had seen. As a set of inner doors began to close, separating soldiers from the rest of the vessel as they continued toward their quarters, officer after officer turned in her direction as dim internal illumination took over from external sunshine. Just before the inner doors shut tight, the pupils of one officer glinted with a singular flash.
Shocked, Dame Vaako could have sounded the general alarm. She quickly realized that the opportune moment had come. She informed the Commander General of what she had witnessed. Vaako found it hard to believe. Difficult enough to imagine anyone surviving direct exposure to the sun of Crematoria. To expect him to believe that Riddick had not only survived, but made it back to Helion Prime and onto the Basilica, was almost too much to envision. Yet no matter how strongly or sensibly he objected, she continued to insist that she had seen him here. Dame Vaako knew, they had to be ready, for whatever might come. Vaako realized that the Lord Marshal had to be warned of the Riddick's presence aboard the Basilica. His wife made no move to stop him, but her words had the desired effect. She explained to Vaako that he would never see the Underverse. The Lord Marshal would kill them both before their due time. It wouldn't matter if Riddick was there or not. The possibility that Vaako had failed would be enough to set the Lord Marshal off, and he would have both of them killed.
But Dame Vaako knew precisely how to turn such seeming adversity into advantage. If the Riddick was half of what the Lord Marshal feared, then perhaps he could wound him. It might be enough. If hurt, the Lord Marshal would hesitate, and that is when Vaako would have to act. But the Commander General remained unconvinced. Despite her best efforts, nothing seemed to convince Vaako that this was the necessary course of action that needed to be taken. Finally, she convinced him that if he would not do it for himself, or for her, than to do it for the faith. This brought a reaction, striking a nerve within the Commander General. The Lord Marshal feared Riddick. If he showed fear, he demonstrated weakness.
Despite himself, Vaako warmed to the idea. Dame Vaako convinced him that he must act. There was no one else. No one with his ability to seize the moment. No one with Vaako's skill to carry out the sentence. What they did now, they did not for themselves, but for all who subscribed to the Necromonger way of life, and of death. Besides, the Commander General would only be sending Zhylaw onwards to the place where they all wished to go. That should be considered a boon, not a punishment. Vaako finally came around to Dame Vaako's prodding. This could still be a day of days, as the Lord Marshal declared. But the timing had to be flawless.
Unaware of the complex machinations being plotted by others, Riddick strode purposefully towards the final confrontation with the Lord Marshal. The Furyan managed to make his way to the outside doors that separated the throne room from the sacred grotto of the Quasi-Dead. Distracting the pair of Elites stationed inside the doors of the throne room by scraping his two blades together, Riddick buried the two blades in their curious faces and in the same motion threw his weight against the doors, exploding into the throne room. With one quick-step and leap over the back of the throne, Riddick held aloft the inimitable dagger he had pulled from the back of the murderer Irgun in his hand, bringing it down and forward towards the Lord Marshal - who spun, caught the dagger hand, countered, and slammed Riddick halfway across the floor.
The Lord Marshal ordered his soldiers to stand down. Riddick thought it was some sort of trick. What the Furyan did not expect, what no one in the room who was privy to the drama being played out before them expected, was for the Lord Marshal to approach not his assailant, but a simple convert. The Lord Marshal roughly pulled the figure up off its knees, and ripped back the convert's cowl to reveal the face beneath. For an instant, Riddick refused to believe. Reality, unfortunately, is cold, remorseless, and will not be denied - Kyra.
Satisfied with the effect his revelation had produced, the Lord Marshal determined to use it to his best advantage. That would lie not in killing this intruder, which he was now confident he could do, but in winning him over to the Faith. That which did not defeat them made them stronger, he knew. As true for a cause as for an individual. This audacious breeder would make a fine replacement for Irgun. He warned the Riddick that if he fell here, now, he would never rise. He would be as the rest of the unconverted; nothing more than worm food. But if he choose another way, the Necromonger way, he would die in due time - only to rise again in the Underverse. Riddick made his choice.
The play was almost over, and the Lord Marshal knew the ending as well as he did its heroes and the villains. If the breeder would only make the right choice, there would be none of the latter and he would be welcomed into the fold. It was what the Lord Marshal expected. It was the logical, right thing to do. However, is was not the Riddick thing to do. The Furyan drew the Irgun dagger and boldly threw it at the Lord Marshal, impossible for any human to avoid. But the Lord Marshal was no longer wholly human, nor his reactions. Reaching up, an armored hand deflected the blade. Or did it? A collective gasp of disbelief filled the throne room as the defender of the Faith dropped to his knees.
On the balcony above, Vaako immediately grabbed one of the ancient, ceremonial poleaxes that form a fence of blades behind him and stared forward, only to be stopped by his companion. Dame Vaako cautioned him that it would take more than a mere knife throw to take down a Lord Marshal. A Half Dead didn't die so easily. He turned slowly, as if from a punch that could not put him down, the Lord Marshal once again faced his assailant. Blood trickled down his cheek. He had deflected the blade just in time, and it had only grazed his face. With one sweeping gesture he motioned everyone back; Elites, regular guards, onlookers - everyone. He would confront his own demons now. Both of him.
The Lord Marshal's astral self exploded forward, raging across the hall at the one who dared to spurn the offer of conversion. When his physical body caught up, the two combined to strike. Soon, the two warriors were engaged in a deadly dance of death. Preoccupied with his adversary's constantly harrying astral counterpart, Riddick found himself driven back all the way to the throne area. A blow to the head finally dropped him. He lay there, stunned. Stepping over to an Elite guard, the Lord Marshal took possession of the man;s staff and returned to his fallen adversary. As the Lord Marshal was about to let out a cry of triumph, suddenly it turned into a gasp, accompanied by a wide-eyed look of surprise and shock. Kyra had stabbed the Lord Marshal in the back. With waning strength, both the physical and astral Lord Marshal lashed out simultaneously. The blow sent the women across the room, smashing into a protruding spike of a decorative column. She slipped off the spike and fell to the floor.
On the balcony above, Dame Vaako had taken it all in, waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Now was the time. She ordered Vaako to kill the beast while it was wounded. Ceremonial poleax in hand, Vaako leaped from the balustrade, landed on the floor below, and raced toward the throne. Wallowing in agony, unable to pull the deeply set spike from his back with either physical or astral hand, the Lord Marshal saw his Commander General rushing toward him. Hope surged above the pain. Vaako stood above the older man, staring. Then he raised the ancient but still serviceable weapon. Its blade edge, beautifully and reverently maintained, glinted in the somber light of Necropolis. The Lord Marshal's expression changed from one of expectation to one of complete disbelief.
Taking aim at the neck of the man lying prone before him, the Commander General's fingers clenched convulsively on the staff of the weapon he held. At the same time, the Lord Marshal's astral body surged clear, away from any possible death blow. Separated, it could rejoin and rejuvenate its physical self even after a seemingly fatal strike. But Riddick was there, standing over the astral form. A minor inconvenience, for no ordinary weapon could harm an astral body. Only too late did it realize that the dagger that swept down in a sweeping arc was the one that had been pulled from the back of Irgun the Strange. Instinctively, the Lord Marshal’s physical self snapped away from Vaako’s blow. The downward slicing blade sent sparks flying as it struck the floor, leaving a gouge behind it. The Lord Marshal's physical body then automatically rejoined his astral self, despite a cry from the latter. And at that precise moment of physical and astral convergence, Riddick finished his swing, sinking the supernal blade clutched tightly in his fist up to its hilt in the Lord Marshal's conjoined skull. As the blade sunk into his brain, Riddick broke the blade with an audible snap. Mouth gaping, instantly now made Full Dead, the Lord Marshal fell forward to the floor.
From above, realizing what had happened, realizing how in the blink of an eye it had all gone completely, utterly, terribly wrong, Dame Vaako screamed as if she had been stabbed herself.
Within the throne room of Necropolis, no one moved. Riddick pivoted away from the Full-Dead body of the Lord Marshal and stalked over to where Kyra lay fallen, eyes wide and open, staring at a place where, hopefully, there was no pain. Moving to distance himself from Kyra's body, Riddick slumped into the first seat that presented itself, which happened to be the throne of Necropolis. Vaako was the first to kneel before Riddick, the new Lord Marshal. Gradually he became aware of more than eyes upon him. In seconds, his drawn expression changed from one of bitter anguish and resignation to utter astonishment at the sight before him. Everyone in the Necropolis - every man and woman, young and old, experienced and new - was kneeling. Kneeling before the new Lord Marshal. Only at that moment Riddick realized that fate, it seemed, had one more surprise in store. That is when it struck him. Something he had heard several times before. You keep what you kill.
Vaako is seen after an assassination attempt on Riddick. He began to bargain with Riddick, if Riddick would step down and let Vaako assume the role of Lord Marshal, then he would tell Riddick the coordinates to his home Planet Furya. For Vaako is the only one who knows where Furya is, since it was purged from all records. Krome takes Riddick to a planet, claiming it is Furya, but he betrays Riddick and leaves him stranded on the planet which Riddick dubs "Not Furya".
After escaping the planet, Riddick made his way back to the Necromonger fleet to kill Vaako, only to find commander Krome in the Lord Marshal's chamber. After trying to get Vaako's location and failing to do so, Riddick killed Krome. He then turned to ask his former concubine, for a one word answer: Is Vaako alive or dead? She said "both", implying that Vaako has become a holy half dead. Riddick turned to the window, which showed the ship facing the portal to the Underverse. Vaako is heard saying "Transcendence".
Relationships[edit | edit source]
Vaako is married to Dame Vaako, a woman who held no formal military rank, but whose attention everyone sought. Though she was partnered with the Commander, this did not keep others from trying to insinuate themselves into her good graces - and elsewhere. Vaako was aware of such efforts. They did not rouse him to anger because he understood the motivation. Having seen, or more properly, been exposed to Dame Vaako, most men and not a few women could do little else. That she had chosen to partner with him was a matter of some pride. But Dame Vaako is consumed by, even defined by, overweening ambition. She is not a comfortable wife, and constantly pushes Vaako to seek higher office, even hinting at murder to advance his career. In her mind, where would Vaako be without her to motivate him? On the battlefield he reigned supreme: none could touch him for bravery or skill. But when thrust into the maze of politics and court intrigue, Vaako was like a lost child. It fell to her to lead him.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The actor Karl Urban played Vaako the Necromonger commander.
- Vaako in the beginning of Chronicles would be equivalent to a knight, though the ranks of the Necromonger are vague it is hard to determine how many ranks there are to Lord Marshal. Vaako is promoted to commander, which may be equivalent to a duke.
Sources[edit | edit source]
- The Chronicles of Riddick (Film)
- The Chronicles of Riddick (Novel) by Alan Dean Foster
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Richard B. Riddick
|Lord Marshal of the Necromongers||Succeeded by|