In which the two survivors wake up.
The first thought that ran through twelve-year-old Jack's mind was that she couldn't breathe properly. It felt like there was a thousand pound weight on her chest preventing her lungs from expanding all the way. Panic began to well up in the pit of her stomach when she opened her eyes and saw absolutely nothing.
Her arms felt heavy as she raised them up, feeling the inside of her cryo-locker. She was startled to find that the release lever was on the opposite side of where it should have been.
"Oh shit," she cursed, realizing that this meant her locker was upside down on the floor. She was lying on the door and the panic was starting to get out of hand as her mind cross-referenced it with being in a coffin. Where that imagery had popped up from, she didn't know, she just needed to get out of there.
Jack kicked her feet up, hitting the back of the locker with an audible thump. She wasn't sure if it could be heard on the outside, so she kicked again, harder this time. Then a horrifying thought crossed her mind, hitting her almost hard enough to cause pain.
What if there isn't anyone alive outside?
There was too much light for him to open his eyes, so Riddick kept them closed as he slowly pulled himself out of his cryo locker. He could smell blood mingling with the burnt chemicals in the air and he noted that there was less oxygen than normal, forcing his lungs to take in more breaths than usual. Sound was something a little more difficult, the crash had brought with it a temporarily deafening roar that had left a ringing in his ears.
The chains attached to his legs made it impossible to stand or walk without some difficulty, but he managed it, cautiously stepping into the shadows. He raised his hands up to his face and pushed the blindfold up, eyes glinting an unnatural silver as he turned to assess the damage. The entire passenger compartment had been ripped nearly to shreds; cryo-lockers lay scattered like torn paper, bodies still halfway in them or halfway out depending on your point of veiw. Drying blood mingled with the dust and debris; there was very little that looked intact, except for maybe the back portion of the compartment.
It was towards there that he moved, carefully closing his eyes as he walked through the light, opening them only when he passed back into the shadows. His hearing was returning now and he could hear a faint sound emanating from the only other intact cryo-locker in the wreckage. It was overturned so that the door was pressed against the floor, trapping whoever was inside more effectively than his own had.
Riddick stared down at it, listening to the thunks and the muffled shouts filling the air, the only sound other than the faint creaking of the ship. It was then that he saw Johns, or what was left of the Merc's top half. He was almost unrecognizable, but Riddick knew the man's blood and there was no mistaking that sour smell. Johns was dead, torn in half because he'd fallen out of his cryo-locker and it was apparent from the blood staining the floor that it had been the overturned locker that had done the damage.
He glanced back at the locker and knelt down, listening to the thuds and shouts that were getting steadily more and more panicked within. He focused on the voice and closed his eyes, trying to determine the facts before deciding what to do about it.
Cryo-sleep never had the same effect on him as it did on others and so he had been able to hear all that had gone on during the crash. The micro-scopic space debris breaking through the hull, the sudden cessation of the slowed down heartbeat of an occupant in one of the other lockers, and the crash as others fell out of their own. He'd felt the jolts as one by one the aft portions of the ship had been cut loose and knew that they were in the gravitational pull of a planet. Pilots for transport ships like that one usually always listened to what the computers told them, so it hadn't been a surprise when he'd heard the bulkhead doors for the passenger compartment clank shut.
Purging the ballast to save what you can. Standard final procedure should worst come to worst, but that wasn't the case this time. Pilot probably panicked.
The crash was a bad one as evidenced by the damage he had seen and Riddick wasn't fool enough to believe that he was unkillable. It was only because his cryo-locker had been reinforced to keep him from escaping it that he had survived and the irony did not escape him. This one ordinary locker had gone unscathed while all the others had been torn apart only because it had been cut off from the wall by the late Mr. Johns. Whoever was inside had to be the only other survivor, unless the flight deck of the ship had remained intact, which he highly doubted.
It was a girl, Riddick decided, opening his eyes again to stare at the locker. The shouts were too high in pitch to be a boy and there were set age limits on cryo-sleep for it was dangerous for anyone under the age of ten to be injected with the chemicals. And besides, he could smell the fear-filled scent of the person in the air and that scent was undeniably female, twelve, maybe thirteen with a different kind of blood smell than that rusted copper scent that had already filled the air.
For a mere moment, he contemplated just leaving the kid in there, but there was no reason to do so and, despite the popular opinion of the rest of the galaxy, Riddick never did anything without a reason. The newsnets would say otherwise, but he never hurt kids either, not intentionally.
Can't lift it with the chains still on though...
He stood up again and turned to the side, scanning the wreckage again for anything that might help remove the metal binders. The equipment cabinets had been ripped from the walls in the initial crash, their contents spewed all over the floor amongst the debris. But it was all med boxes and emergency repair equipment, most of which was useless for cutting through chains. Except there, dropped in the corner with the fuel line tangled in a mess of wires, was a standard steel welding torch, perfectly intact.
Riddick stepped over and easily disentangled it, pulling down the wires with it to find another small storage box. This one fell open on the floor as he picked up the torch and he smirked to himself upon seeing that it contained the extra canisters and nozzles for the torch, as well as a pair of round black welding goggles.
He pulled those out, fitting them on over his eyes before dragging the torch over to a clearer area so he could cut the chains off.
Jack was on the verge of giving up. Her legs and arms hurt from banging against the walls of her cryo-locker and her throat was hoarse from screaming for someone, anyone, to hear her and rescue her from the confines of this shrinking space. The interior of the locker felt twelve times smaller than it had been when she'd woken up and now she was severely wishing that she hadn't.
She was exhausted but she knew she'd never be able to sleep, not in this enclosed space, not knowing she may never get out of there.
Please...just let someone...don't care who or even what...I just want out of here...please...
Jack made another kick against the wall, hearing the thunk herself but knowing now that no one would hear it. It felt like hours must have passed by in which she'd screamed and kicked and made as much noise as she could, but there'd been no response. In reality it was only about twenty or so minutes, but time gets distorted in such a panicked state.
There's no one out there, Jack. You're the only one left alive and you're going to die before any rescue comes. They'll find your corpse and say 'oh, the poor kid, she never had a chance' and they'll just count you off a statistic with the rest of them...
Jack let out a sob and found she couldn't stop, after all, it seemed to be the only reasonable thing to do right then. No tears fell though, she'd wasted them in the initial panic of being trapped like this.
A sudden scraping sound startled her out of her despair and she felt the locker shift slightly as if something was trying to move it. She felt a surge of hope, someone had heard her at last, she wasn't going to die in this coffin. Lifting a hand, she knocked against the wall, rolling over on her side and pressing one ear against the side of the locker, listening.
Without warning the locker was suddenly lifted and flipped right-side up, and Jack let out a small yelp of surprise as she fell back inside it, smashing her elbow against the wall. Blinking against the sudden return of the light, a sense of relief washed over her so strongly that she felt like jumping for joy. She settled, however, for sitting up, which proved to be slightly more difficult than simply thinking about it.
Jack pushed herself up from the locker, looking out over the edge to see her rescuer crouching just a few feet away. She could feel his gaze despite the opaque black goggles he wore over his eyes and she found herself staring right back at him, gaping slightly. She'd seen him before, when they were loading the ship, but only because she'd been one of the last few passengers getting on board. He'd been in chains, blindfolded with a bit stuck in his mouth; some guy that she'd taken to be a police officer of sorts had dragged him in, helped by some of the security personal from the port.
She recalled the cop saying something about the lock-out protocol on his cryo-locker and how the crew had seemed so nervous, glancing over their shoulders with fear in their eyes. She had asked who he was and had gotten the usual look adults give kids who ask the wrong kind of questions, but they'd told her anyways.
So Jack knew that she was staring right at the most dangerous man in the galaxy, a killer wanted in more than twelve systems, what the public deemed to be a monster. Richard B. Riddick, escaped convict, murderer.
Oddly enough, she didn't feel afraid.
He heard me...he helped me...
Riddick seemed to be gaging her reaction to his presence, although she couldn't be sure for his face was devoid of any expression. He crouched there, seemingly at ease but alert at the same time, if that was even possible; like a cat waiting for its prey. He was so completely silent that Jack would have thought he wasn't breathing if it wasn't for the slight movement of his muscular chest under the black wife beater he wore.
After what seemed like forever, he moved, standing slowly from his crouch, though Jack could still feel his gaze on her. She stared up at him, watching as he turned his head slightly to glance to the side, as if listening for something. That's when she noticed the damage to the rest of the passenger cabin, the giant tear in the hull some ways off and the cryo-lockers torn from the walls, all of them ripped apart into their component pieces.
Jack's eyes widened when she saw that the passengers that had been inside the lockers were, more or less, still there.
Holy shit...what happened?
Jack started to stand up, her feet feeling slightly strange underneath her as she used the side of the cryo-locker to steady herself. She swung a leg over the side and climbed out, but she knocked her foot against something and stumbled. Almost immediately she felt a firm hand grab her shoulder and pull her back up; it happened in a split second and then she was released, standing upright.
"Thank you," she said, her throat feeling scratchy as she looked up at him. Riddick's face was still expressionless as he stared down at her, and Jack suddenly felt very small. He was a good two feet taller than she was and it suddenly dawned on her that there was no way in hell he'd believe her guise as a guy. He'd probably already figured out she was a girl even with the short hair and the boy's clothes.
Without a word, he walked silently past her towards the shadows at the back of the cabin and Jack found herself following him, her feet moving of their own volition. He stopped at the wall and glanced back over his shoulder at her, a slight frown appearing on his face and Jack stopped too, unwavering as she looked up at him. She realized that he hadn't expected for her to follow him and felt suddenly fearful.
She didn't want to be alone, not after being trapped inside that locker for so long and especially not after seeing all the damage that had been done to the passenger cabin.
"What's your name, kid?" Riddick suddenly asked and Jack was startled by the dark rumble of his voice . It was the first time she'd ever heard him speak and she'd never expected him to actually talk to her.
Voice sounds like slightly burnt toast...rough and dark...cinnamon toast...damn, I'm hungry...wait, he asked my name, right?
"Jack," she answered after that second or so hesitation and he tilted his head slightly to the side.
"Sure you want to be following me around, Jack?" he inquired, that slight frown fading back into the same expressionless face he'd been wearing earlier. She blinked, then glanced around at the cabin and the damage once again before turning back to stare up at him.
"Don't think there's anyone else," she answered hesitantly and was surprised when he let out a low chuckle.
"No," he agreed, shaking his head. "There isn't."