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Earth Wind Water Fire - A Pitch Black Alternate Universe Fanfic
This is a complete revamp of the plot for the movie Pitch Black starring Vin Diesel as Riddick and incorporating two original characters, including an alternate universe version of someone you may have already met if you follow my stuff.
Warnings: Spoilers a lot of the film Pitch Black; adult content, language, violence, disturbing images, etc.
Also Available At: deviantArt here - requires a (free) account to view the chapters, but it's easier on the eyes than it is here.
Total Words: 14,426



Chapter 1


The transport had crashed on a barren planet. Debris from a rogue comet; the rest was history. A history that included the treacherous pilot Fry getting what was coming to her on impact. Her attempt to jettison the passengers to save her own ass failed miserably. Regardless, not many of the passengers had survived. The first things Johns noticed on waking was the infamous Riddick's disappearance from his reinforced security case. While the bounty hunter's short, curly red hair disappeared into the bowels of the ship to track his bald, musclebound bounty, the other passengers checked for more survivors in the ruined transport hold.

Shazza pulled her long, dark curls into a makeshift band on her head and leaned back down to help short-brown-haired, bearded Zeke pry open a fogged cryo-unit to reveal a little girl who tumbled out onto the door from the badly-angled unit amidst a cloud of mist. Long blonde hair, long white dress, the eyes stayed shut tight though she seemed awake. The girl flinched and pulled away as Shazza touched her arm.

"Back off, she's my responsibility." A man had come up behind the other two adults. Short, dark hair, academic air furthered by glasses and utilitarian lab coat.

"And you are?" Shazza asked as the new man crouched over the girl, inspecting her for damage as one might check inanimate cargo.

"Dr. Nero. Shane is autistic and needs special care. That's all you need to know. She's my problem, not yours." He pulled the girl upright though the child expressed distaste for the idea in a strangled, wordless cry. He gave her a less-than-gentle shake and forced her to follow him towards the shredded back end of the ship.

Shazza gave Zeke a raised eyebrow and mouthed the word "ohhhkay" before moving on to check the next containers.


Riddick had been recaptured, secured to the left side of a bench in the bulkhead. His hands were shackled behind him to a secure pipe running almost outside of the alcove. The lighting was fairly dim, which was good because his eyes were unprotected.

There were only six survivors. Johns had vanished down into the depths of the ship again once Riddick was secured. Zeke and Shazza searched the wreckage outside for useful salvage, locating a couple more bodies in the process. The entire ship's crew had died.

Dr. Nero was the furthest from the main wreck, following the crash trail backwards, hoping to find the cargo unit containing his baggage. He cursed under the hot sunlight as he found another wrong crate. He checked the small tracking device he had in his pocket, alien maroon and black technology simple enough to operate. The kid was still back where he'd left her in the shade of the ruined passenger section. He returned his attention to the search, sweating under the twin suns beating down on him relentlessly.


Riddick smelled the little girl first. She was very quiet, and very strange. Couldn't be more than six or seven years old, bare feet silent on the cold metal floor. Her hands ran across the bulkhead as she felt her way along the wall, drawing closer to the killer everyone else feared. It wasn't that her distant blue eyes were blind, it just seemed like she was looking somewhere else. Somewhere other people couldn't see.

Shane was the girl's name. Riddick had heard it earlier. But he kept silent and still now. The child came closer, and she was sniffing the air. Small hands found the Furyan's arm; the touch didn't falter. She felt her way down the strong muscles, fingers finding the shackles. She paused. There was a dark band of some unknown material on her own left ankle; it contained a small red light which glowed briefly once every few seconds.

The girl moved again, fingers following the outside seam along Riddick's pant leg, stopping near his knee to trace a circle around the edge of a snap on a pocket there. He was leaning forward now, smelling the child's hair, taking in her scent, staring at her with an unreadable expression. She smelled... different.

The girl's gaze wandered closer to his, then closer still, and soon she was looking right at him. Into his eyes. He could sense intelligence behind hers, though it seemed locked away even now. And she wasn't afraid of him. The child's gaze wandered away again and so did the girl, hands feeling along the bench, then she drifted towards the access hatch and down the stairs to below.


Johns had hit the morphine as soon as he'd found his stash. Fuck the others. They thought he was a cop in this getup, which was the point. He'd deal with them when he felt like it. This ship wasn't ever taking off again anyways. He'd had a rough landing and an even rougher job recapturing Riddick. Had the escaped convict not been hindered by the presence of transport shackles, gag, and blindfold, the bounty hunter would not have lived through the encounter. But he was quite alive and dozing now in the comforting haze of drugs.

Little fingers gently probed the keychain that dangled from the sleeping man's belt. One of the keys was smaller than the rest. The fingers felt along it, traced the simple design, and then the shiny metal things clinked as a hand grabbed hers.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Johns checked the girl's fingers but she hadn't taken anything. She pulled away from him as he rose to check his morphine, having carelessly left the container open. "Didn't anyone ever teach you to leave other people's shit alone?"

The girl was already edging away, feeling her way back along fallen vertices. Johns scowled after her, sitting back down to resume what had been disturbed. "Not only do we have to have some kid survive, but it's a fuckin' retard." The keys jingled as he lay back again, and he checked them to be sure. They were all there. He shut his eyes and sighed in irritation.


Riddick looked up to see Shane returning on a fairly straight course considering what he'd seen so far. Her eyes were focused on some middle distance to her upper left, but she wandered towards his bench unerringly. There was something in her left hand. Something sharp. The Furyan watched her carefully, instinct making him tense but he kept perfectly still. The girl probably wouldn't even live through one solid kick. She stopped a few feet away, fidgeting with the fabric of her dress.

Shane lifted her right index finger and looked at it askance. The fractured chunk of metal in the other hand came up and she flinched as it pierced the tip of her finger. The improvised blade dropped to the floor with a clatter and the child moved forward towards the bench.

Riddick had no idea what the hell the kid was doing but he wasn't about to interrupt her. The intoxicating smell of her blood on the air held that same odd addition the Furyan couldn't place. He just watched and waited as the child knelt in front of the clear area of the bench and put her left arm and head down on the cold metal, looking across the surface away from Riddick.

She held the finger out before her, a drop of blood falling to the metal below. Her arm tensed for a moment, the hand and finger vibrating with the tension. Another drop fell. Something was starting to happen to the tiny pool. It shifted and spread as if alive.

Riddick leaned closer to watch as the blood began to spindle upwards through the air, more of it meeting half way down a span of a few inches. The girl's hand shook periodically as the metal near the blood started changing color, browning like it was rusting over time-lapse. Silver flecks in the blood pool journeyed to the middle of the writhing red thread and began coalescing into a larger shape.

It didn't take long for the shape to become recognizable. It was a small key, about the right size for the shackles. The process now seemed to be harder, the girl drawing a labored breath as her hand shook again. She kept it up until the key was fully formed, letting it drop to the bench with a wet clink. The rest of the blood turned to rusty dust as the finger pulled away. Shane sucked at her injury, picking up the key and wandering slowly to the Furyan's hand. The gift placed among those strong fingers, Shane wandered away even as the locked shackles successfully clicked open.

Riddick picked up the shiv the girl had dropped earlier. He should be ditching this death trap, but something made him stay and watch the girl a moment longer. She was now feeling her way along the sides of cargo containers, heading generally back the way she'd first arrived. A pair of dark-lensed goggles by a welding torch became Furyan property and he was no longer in the ship a few seconds later.




Chapter 2


Nero found the girl almost where he'd left her, now crouched poking in the dirt outside the shade; she had some sort of chain around her neck. A long ball necklace, a single dog tag hanging from it, but it appeared to be blank. Not engraved. She had part of the chain in her mouth and was staring at nothing, as usual.

"Where did you get that?" demanded the doctor, reaching for the necklace, but the girl pulled away with a stubborn noise. He grabbed her arm. "It's dirty, get that thing out of your mouth."

In protest the girl flung herself on the dusty ground, dead weight catching the doctor by surprise. He glared down at her. He didn't want to deal with this bullshit today. He didn't want to deal with any of this whole rotten setup. At least he'd found the girl's medication.

"Fine. Get up and take your pills." He set the bag of gear on the edge of the ship's torn back end and fished out the dosage. Two white pills. The girl hadn't moved. "Get up," he growled, hauling the girl onto her feet. She fought him and he slapped her. She stopped and sank into a sitting position on the metal ledge. The doctor gave her the pills and she slowly stuck them in her mouth, eyes downcast the entire time. "Swallow them." Nero saw her swallow, but he knew her better than that. "Let me see."

Shane opened her mouth and he couldn't see the pills. Good. One less bullshit today. He grabbed his bag and left the girl sitting where she was as he headed into the cooler interior. As soon as he was out of sight, Shane pulled the pills out from under her tongue and threw them far off into the desert dust.


Johns was finally back in the present. He needed to be; Riddick was gone. The doctor had discovered the empty bench, and not long after, Johns was lifting empty cuffs out of the dirt several yards from the ship. The manacles were locked, undamaged. Johns squinted off towards the horizon. There was nothing on this side of the ship for miles. The bounty hunter climbed to the top of the craft and trained his binoculars on the strange spire-encrusted hills visible on the other side. Shazza's voice called up to him from the ground.

"See anything?"

Johns zoomed in on thin, branching white shapes too far out to distinguish details. "Yeah. Trees." He joined Shazza as Zeke appeared with a pickaxe and shovel. The empty shackles on Johns's belt drew the attention of both as the mostly-ignored little girl moved small stones around nearby.

Nero spoke first. "We need water. There's not enough to last this many people more than a day. At most."

Johns pointed off towards the ridge. "There's trees out there. Trees mean water. Riddick's out there too and I want him back."

Zeke piped in. "We need to bury the bodies. I'll do it, but if Mr. Riddick shows up, someone better watch my back." He pointed to the pile of scavenged goods beside Shazza. "We couldn't find much for weapons."

Nero cut in before anyone else could volunteer for positions. "I call water. Don't feel like sitting around here waiting to die."

Johns glanced over at Shane. "What about the kid?"

Nero slung his bag's long strap over his head to let it rest on the far shoulder. "She goes too."

"Joy," was the sarcastic reply. If Nero thought the phony law enforcement agent was going to babysit, the doc had a big surprise coming. But the aggravating circumstances provided a possible advantage. Namely, distraction, or even cannon fodder for his prey.

"Well," said Shazza, attempting to keep her tone friendly and diplomatic, "I guess that means I stay with Zeke."

Johns pulled his handgun out of its holster and handed it to Zeke. He addressed the group as a whole. "We need Riddick alive. Shoot to wound only, or better yet, just keep him cornered or off your backs till I get to him."

Zeke asked, uncomfortable, "Why alive? He'd be a lot less dangerous dead."

"Because," answered Johns grimly, "unless any of you know how to fly, he's our only ticket out of here."

Shazza looked at the ruins of the ship. "Let's hope to hell there's more than just water by those trees."

Nero had Shane by the hand, sandals having materialized on her feet. He walked by with a pointed look at Johns. "We going?"

Johns rolled his eyes and shifted the shotgun slung over his shoulders, grabbing one of the few bottles of water. He handed it to Nero as he passed, trudging off towards the hills.


The spires up close looked like termite mounds gone to hell. At least the doc and his walking zombie were keeping up. Johns kept a surreptitious eye on the girl for a moment. The kid had been holding her hand out and finally came within touching distance of a tall mound. Her fingers scraped by, dust falling from the touch.

She stopped, looking directly at the spire as her fingers lingered. Nero yanked at her and she fell back in step though now she was staying very close to the man. She kept wiping the dirt off her fingers even after they had to be as clean as they'd get under present circumstances. Johns had the distinct impression the reaction had nothing to do with the doctor's rough treatment. It was more like the girl was afraid of the mounds. Yay, he thought, not only is the kid special in all the ways that don't count, but she's fuckin' creepy.

The trees should be just over the ridge. Johns strode up the last incline and found himself gazing across a valley of something else entirely: a bone yard. Huge, bleached skeletons littered the area, so thick in some places it was impossible to see what lay beyond.

Nero arrived and frowned at the scene. "Not very promising."

Johns sniffed indifferently. "Great place to hide. Keep on your toes here. We head for the far side." It was as good a direction as any, and he was more interested in what his gut was telling him about the valley itself. Riddick was here. Johns could feel it.

Shane had nobody holding her hand and was already working her way down into the bone yard. Johns raised an eyebrow at Nero who just rolled his eyes and slid down after her. Johns followed more carefully, shotgun out. Bone formations rose up all around them. They could not know when they passed Riddick. There was no indication, but they did pass him, and the hunters became the hunted.

Nero was extremely fed up with hauling the kid along by the time they were half way across the valley. She was being particularly difficult, dragging her feet and trying to pull away. The final straw was when she sat right down in the dirt. The doctor's wordless growl of rage was silenced by Johns, who stood a few yards away with a hand raised to signal a halt. He wasn't looking at the two people, instead watching a few grains of sand roll down a steep slope. He motioned for them to stay put and skulked away along the bottom edge of the incline.

"Fine," murmured Nero, taking a seat in the shade of a protective bone formation. His back to the solid surface, no one would approach without his seeing them. And he was tired. Tired of the heat. Tired of the sun. Tired of this not being a perfectly climate-controlled, sterile laboratory. And he was most fucking tired of the kid.

Shane had finally decided that walking was okay now. She moved slowly between giant, empty ribs, touching them, looking at that netherspace she was always so fixated on. Nero glared at her, but since they hadn't seen a damn living thing out here and she wasn't having a conniption, he let her wander. He had the tracker, and he seriously doubted this Riddick fellow was within any sort of dangerous range. If the guy was half as good as Johns made out, the Furyan had already found any real water supply left on this rock and that certainly wasn't located in this valley of death. The doctor's attention drifted as the heat made him drowsy.

Shane moved between the large formations of once-living creatures, gaze wandering as much as her feet. The appendages led her into one made like a tunnel, the end a mass of shadows. Part way along was a smaller skeleton. It was still bigger than her, and when she got close she inhaled sharply and shied away from it.

Riddick watched the girl from the shadows. She really didn't seem to like the skeleton at all. It was rather predatory-looking. When he'd inspected it himself earlier, he'd noticed it had a blind spot. He hoped that information wouldn't need to come in useful; the thing had some seriously wicked teeth and claws.

The girl was standing still now beside a break in the rib-bone wall. She'd made for it to get away from the long-dead creature, but now she stood there, breathing the air. He realized she was smelling it. Smelling him. She hesitated a moment longer, then continued out into the sun.

The Furyan crept closer to the organic bars and watched the child meander a few more steps. Then she flopped down on her hands and knees, fingers tracing lines in the dirt. She raised her left hand several inches and stared at the ground below it. The lines she'd made started to shift, almost imperceptibly at first. Then they flattened out, the ground becoming perfectly smooth in a larger radius. Her fingers twitched, hand changing angles slowly, and out of the dust rose a perfect miniature city of exotic architecture. Little rivulets of dust curled through the creation as the girl's eyes flicked over it, a faint sense of discovery finding its way to her gaze.

The miniature creation suddenly collapsed into nothing. Footsteps. Riddick ducked back into deeper shadow as someone approached. It was Nero, come to drag the kid away, oblivious to the now-random arrangement of dirt scattered by Shane's trailing fingertips.




Chapter 3


Johns gazed in awe at the sight before him now. The valley of bones lay behind them, but the next valley was deeper, almost as wide, and held the ruins of a colony structure. Some of it was more intact than the rest, but the windows on every dome and interconnecting, covered walkway held shattered holes. The place had the look of abandoned desolation.

Still, it was the first sign of civilization and it was a huge one. The small group started for the first of several enclosures. Just as Johns began shouting for signs of any remaining inhabitants, Nero got his attention by pointing away from the structure. On the distant horizon, a new light source appeared. Smaller than the other suns, but brighter, hot blue-white light flooding over the arid wasteland. It drained almost all color and painted the world in white, black, and a blue so icy it burned.

"Wonderful," was Johns's only comment before edging carefully up to a door in the enclosure. He'd lost the gut feeling that Riddick was nearby, but that didn't mean shit.

Nero shaded his eyes from the new blaze on the edge of the world. "And here I was hoping it'd get dark soon." He kept a safe distance from the jumpy cop, following as Johns moved into a circular hallway. The room they found in the center housed a deep shaft with equipment dangling above it. The dark gave them both the creeps and the shotgun's light was too diffuse to reach the bottom; they moved on, finding a sunlit greenhouse gone dry and a few other rooms connected by their passageways of metal and broken glass.

One whole wing of the structure had collapsed, charred evidence of a great fire that hadn't spread to the rest of the facility because the connecting passageways had been dismantled. One skeleton jutted from the ruined structure, and it was not human. Johns had seen more like it in the bone yard, but they seemed a rare sort of dead, few and far between. It was rather more disturbing to see the vile remains here among signs of human activity.

Shane was becoming difficult again, though her usual interest in touching things didn't seem to apply to the current surroundings. She sagged tiredly as Nero led the way to one of the last buildings. It was dark inside, but the doctor forced a few window slits open and stepped back as a small solar panel started gears whirring. The center of the room held a large, complex model of a three-dimensional solar system. This system, by easy assumption, the planet they were on being labeled with a designation meaningless to him, along with a much more obvious "You are here." Someone's attempt at humor. It didn't seem funny right now.

Nero found the off switch for the display only to get an angry howl from Shane. She pressed stubborn fingers into the nearest planet, manually moving it as the gears moved the rest of the spheres in tandem. Shane was occupied and the room was otherwise empty. Nero was quite sick of dealing with her, and it would be much easier to explore the settlement without her. He left the child to her compulsion and exited the room, shutting the door and jamming a length of metal scrap between the handle and a bent section of support by the door. It would easily hold the kid inside.

Johns had been watching the doctor but looked away when Nero noted him. The fake badge didn't want to deal with the kid either. He just nodded towards the next half-sphere and the two adults headed for it. It wasn't long before Johns stood in the middle of the communal living area, staring at an extensive water purification system with thick pipes leading into the floor.

He gave an appreciative whistle. "Jackpot. Can you get it working?"

"I'm a doctor, not an engineer," replied Nero with pointed sarcasm. The thing's control system looked complex and it needed power. "Look for a solar power generator. There was one in the last room."

Johns didn't see any by the windows. He went back outside and shielded his eyes as he looked up at the domed roof. There was something up there that broke the smooth curve, and he soon found an access ladder. It took a minute to force the panel cover open, sounds of mechanical life rewarding him. He didn't hear Nero's words below. A sight visible from this elevation had thoroughly distracted the bounty hunter. He called down to the man in the building.

"Hey doc, we've got us a ship."

Johns was sliding down the roof as Nero reappeared, following to the craft partially hidden behind another structure. There was also a solar-powered sand cat work vehicle. The ship turned out to be a small transport, looking in decent shape. Johns opened the side door carefully, keeping his gun trained on the interior, but both the main cabin and the cockpit came up clean. Nero fished through the storage lockers, uncovering a stash of emergency rations.

The doctor peered at the labels written in some other language. "They're still good. This shit lasts forever though."

"We don't have forever. And we don't have a pilot. Yet." Johns grimaced; he really needed to find Riddick now. Before the Furyan found the ship. The indicator lights on the dashboard flickered sickly and the cabin lights were so dim they weren't worth turning on. "Not enough power," he mumbled. Not enough to take off. The computer turned on, but Johns was instantly lost in the screens and shut it off again.

Nero had gone back out; Johns found him fiddling with the water system. The doctor didn't ask for help and Johns let him be, choosing to poke around the rest of the living spaces and bunk rooms. There didn't seem to be a single room in which a window wasn't broken. Personal effects were scattered around haphazardly. Several dark stains could have been blood, but there were no bodies. He took the moment for a quick fix; his favorite drug made everything look better. Or well, he just stopped caring. Same difference.

He heard a triumphant whoop from the other room. A few seconds later he was watching water drip into the bottle the doctor held ready. The drops formed quickly into a steady stream. The doc turned off the valve and held the bottle up to the light.

"Think it's safe?" asked Johns.

"Think we have a choice?" smirked the doctor, taking his chances with a careful sip followed by a hearty chug. "Passes the taste test."

There were empty bottles nearby, dusty on the outside but clean enough inside. Johns helped himself to the water as Nero took stock of the rest of the room. There were crates and boxes, a couple quickly emptied out on the floor in order to be filled with freshly bottled water. Nero grabbed another box on the way out and hit up the ship's ration supply as Johns dealt with trying to start the sand cat.

Once the supplies were loaded in the now-rumbling vehicle, Johns glanced back towards the compound. "Forgetting something?"

"Not hardly," came the grim reply. Nero made his way quickly through the heat to the still-locked door, opening it to see the little girl sitting directly under the planetary display, staring up at it with intense focus. He didn't bother to follow her gaze, just hurried her out from under the thing. She only balked when they hit the fierce brightness of outside after so much dim light, but Nero forced her along. She kept her gaze on the door they'd left open until it was out of sight.


Riddick hid behind one of the few mounds close to the crash site as Zeke dragged another body towards the grave he'd dug. The corpse landed in the pit with a dull thud, and Zeke took a double-take at the bottom of the whole. There was a side hole that hadn't been there a few minutes ago. He looked around, but Shazza had just left, with his permission, to get one of the last bottles of water from the stash.

He shrugged, nothing that moved was visible for miles, not counting heat waves melting the air. The man hopped into the pit and pulled some of the dirt away from the hole, making it bigger. It led to a tunnel. He could almost get in there if he wanted to. Turns out he could, if something else pulled him in. The lightning-quick moment was followed by his screams of fear and pain as he managed to get a shot off. Two shots. He couldn't see. Three shots. He didn't have a shooting arm anymore.

Shazza ran fast, pulling the tarp back from the grave to see only blood surrounding the hole and Riddick, crouched at the edge directly above. He'd been looking down at the hole. Half a moment later he was running away. Fast.


Johns whipped his head to the side as he drove around an obstruction. Nero narrowed his eyes at the cop. "Something wrong?"

"Gunshots."

They were out of the bone yard soon after and a dark shape was flitting between spires within visible distance. Johns killed the sand cat's engine and jumped off at a run, making a beeline to intercept his fleet target. Shazza could be seen further back. As Riddick passed, the bounty hunter struck, tripping his quarry.

Johns ripped the goggles off the Furyan and the fight was pretty much over, though the big guy didn't want to give in. The light-blinded freak fought like a wild animal. The end result was the cold, dim bench in the ship again, tied standing up this time, trapped like the beast he was with arms spread wide and ankles bound as well.




Chapter 4


Riddick wouldn't respond to accusations or questions alike, especially regarding the handcuff key found when the captive had been carefully searched. He just stared icily at the three remaining human adults. They gave up on him for the time being; none of them were stupid enough to have given the Furyan the key, let alone have had access to one, except for Johns on that last front. The seeds of doubt beginning to sprout among the "allies" were alleviated by Shazza's words of wisdom. Riddick was playing with their heads. He'd probably found the key after breaking loose and had held onto it for later. The thought of food and water was too tempting to continue the argument, and the prisoner too silent.

Out on the back edge of the ship, Shane showed distaste for the food the doctor gave her but a firm threat sent her into glum, slow obedience. Johns ate fast and headed back to the hole with Shazza. After what she'd just seen, the woman wasn't able to stomach the overprocessed meat product of questionable origin, opting only for water.

Nero's attention wandered as he squinted across the desert. How Johns meant to force the captured killer to fly the lot of them out of here was beyond the doctor. Riddick seemed the sort of creature who would out-survive them all on this god-forsaken excuse for a planet. The doctor glanced at Shane only to see her dropping forkfuls of food onto the ground. He stormed over to her and grabbed the things from her hands, setting them aside roughly to grab the girl next.

"Stupid kid, you're wasting food." He shook her hard and she cried out, trying to strike at him. He backhanded her, sending the child sprawling to the ground. Rage filled his mind. Why couldn't the useless half-mind just cooperate? "You worthless, ungrateful, stupid little shit!" He hit her again, catching her along the back as she tried to get away. Falling again, shrieking.

Then the ground shook with a violent tremor, the whole earth seeming to heave. Nero lost his footing and scrambled away from the ship onto more open ground as part of the mangled craft fell with a screech of unhappy metal. He caught a glimpse of the child disappearing into the ship, but with the ground still behaving erratically, the doctor wasn't going anywhere near that death trap.


The tremors had stopped. Riddick had watched the little girl stumble into the cargo hold while things were still shaking, vanishing between two large crates that luckily hadn't shifted in the final aftershocks. The Furyan's bonds had not loosened in the quake, a disappointment. He listened now to a slight scratching noise from deep behind the crates.

A louder sound broke in: the doctor's footsteps as he stalked into the hold. He was following the guide of a small handheld readout, but seemed to have difficulty with the thing inside the ship proper. Nero glared at the captive with obvious distaste. "Where'd she go?"

Riddick just shrugged. He'd heard the entire scene outside. The Furyan knew the timing of the earthquake was too close to have been a coincidence; the doctor was playing with some serious fire.

Nero changed gears, peering at the Furyan with more-than-casual interest. "Where did you find eyes like that?"

Riddick's usual story wouldn't work on this one. The doctor would know better. The Furyan just answered with a question of his own. "Where'd you find a kid like that?"

The doctor sneered. "Find her? I made her." His pride took over as he expanded on the story. "The mother donor was such a pretty thing, too. Elementals usually are. She was dying and I put her DNA to much better use. But the little retard's got a broken brain and I'm stuck trying to get results out of the useless little bitch. Pain in my ass."

Riddick smelled a lie. More than one in that nonsense, most likely. The doctor didn't seem intelligent or patient enough to use science to create a living being of any remote stability. Not that Riddick could talk, but he wasn't the one making bonus claims. The Furyan's deep voice echoed the thought that the cover story was crap.

"Bullshit. You got lucky. More like you found a dying elemental and her defenseless little kid. You're no doctor. You're a thief."

"Takes one to know one," shot the doctor back before realizing he'd admitted to the lie. Riddick's dark laugh did nothing to placate Nero's anger. "Look, you miserable freak of nature, I could just as soon find out how your eyes work the hard way. I simply adore dissections."

"Just try it." Riddick's smooth grin did not reach his eyes. It'd take a complete idiot to approach the captured man even restrained like this.

The doctor took a step closer, but he stopped there. He wasn't a complete idiot after all. He glared at Riddick and turned away to keep looking for his lost ward even as Johns and Shazza appeared. Johns first priority was to make sure Riddick was still properly secured, a fact learned more quickly by the Furyan lunging to the edge of his slack, a defiant glare in the big man's silver eyes.

That settled, Johns addressed the doctor. "Everyone okay here?" He noticed the obvious absence of the little girl.

Nero sniffed. "Shane's in here somewhere. Probably below." He moved off for the stairs down.

Shazza was peering between the crates. "Shh," she said, and pointed between the barriers. The soft scratching was audible again in the silence that followed.

Johns moved out of sight and then appeared above the crate. "Yep, she's down there."

He put his back to the wall beside the crate and pushed the edge with his feet as Shazza and Nero pushed from below, almost beyond Riddick's line of sight. The huge thing was heavy, but once there was enough room to get close enough, the doctor squirmed in as far as he could and pulled the girl back out into the open.

The child threw the chalk stone she'd been holding at him, but he just snarled at her, "Quit." The girl rubbed tiredly at her eyes as Johns landed back down on the floor.

"Keep a better eye on her," reprimanded the phony cop. "We're not here to fuckin' babysit."

Shazza cut in. "We need to find Zeke." She glanced over at the Furyan. "His body should be in that hole, there wasn't time to move it. Maybe... maybe he's still alive." She didn't sound convinced of her own hopes, and the enigmatic grin on Riddick's face didn't help.

Johns gave his bounty a dark look before turning to the others. "The tremors opened the hole wider, but I don't know if it's safe. Might get an aftershock."

Shazza set her jaw grimly. "It was my job to watch him. I'll go... there's some rope in the supplies. I shouldn't have to go very far."

They left, taking the girl with them. Riddick was alone in the cargo hold once again. He smiled in the shadows and waited.


Shazza peered down the tunnel, flashlight in hand. This was way more than a simple hole. The tether on her waist was taut, a nice, solid reminder that she had allies behind her. Then she reached a boot. Zeke's boot. With part of a foot still left in it, bone snapped off and flesh torn.

Shazza's scream rang out just as the rope pulled fast into the tunnel. Johns hadn't been expecting it and several feet slipped by before he caught it and was dragged to the hole's edge. He yelled for the doc who ran over to help, but the rope kept sliding past and Shazza kept screaming.


Riddick yanked strong arms forward, banging the restraints against their holds in an increasing rhythm. He had no intent in freeing himself in this manner; it was a useless exercise. No, he was hearing the woman scream, murderous animal instincts reacting to what he knew was happening out there. Something was killing. Someone was exiting the world in pain and blood. The only thing he might regret was that it was not his own hands doing the deed. But he could still enjoy the rush.


The rope slacked so suddenly both men went sprawling backwards. Johns reeled the line in, the air eerily silent now. "Shit," he spat as the severed end appeared, empty but for a coating of fresh blood.

They both backed away from the hole but nothing came out of it. Nothing stirred at all, though there was a new sound from above. A soft, frightened whimpering. Nero climbed out of the pit as Johns reached for his shotgun and trained it on the tunnel, working his way out more cautiously. The doctor found the girl crouched behind a chunk of crash debris, rocking with arms hiding her head. The quiet whimper continued even as Nero made half an attempt to calm her. She only flinched away at the doctor's touch, cries becoming more intense.

He sighed with exasperation and looked over at Johns. "Well, looks like Riddick didn't kill Zeke after all. He knew something was down there, though. He didn't say a damn word when Shazza volunteered to go in. That evil fuck is trying to get us all killed even if he isn't the one holding the knife."

Johns glowered at the hole. "We're just gonna have to change the rules of the game." He set off for the ship fast.

"How do we do that?" asked the doctor as he grabbed the girl by the hand, ignoring shrieks and struggling, virtually dragging her until she caught her feet under her well enough to stumble along, cheeks wet with tears. Up ahead, the surly policeman didn't answer.


Riddick silently watched the others approach. Nero leaned against a support beam near the back exit, the kid beside him falling to lie on the cold metal floor and sniff dejectedly, facing away from the room. Johns stood before his captive and chose his words carefully.

"There's just the three of us now." He glanced back at the girl. "Three and a half. There's a ship at some kind of science station past the graveyard. You fly it, we pretend you died here. Nobody needs to know the truth."

Riddick scoffed. "You'd set me free, Johns? After all you've gone through to get every cent I'm worth?" The Furyan looked over at the doctor. "He's no cop. Just another low-life bounty hunter. Suppose he never bothered to let you in on that little detail. He's got more reasons to keep me alive than just a ride out of here."

The doctor only shrugged at this revelation. Cop, bounty hunter, at this point it really didn't matter. Johns smirked at the reaction and addressed Riddick again.

"That's just the point, though. We need you to fly us out of here. What good is owning your bounty if I die on this rock? The food won't last forever, and some freaky shit lives under the ground. We're real lucky there's three fucking suns up in the sky, cuz whatever's down there doesn't seem interested in coming out under them."

Riddick shook his head. "You should just ice me now, Johns. I would."

Johns glowered at the Furyan. "I can't do that. You work for us, no shivs. You get food and water, and we get the fuck out of here."

Riddick gave Johns a deadly serious look. "Or I could just kill you all."

The discharge of the shotgun boomed around the hold. Riddick pulled the remains of the restraints out of the wall as Johns covered him carefully. The bounty hunter moved one hand to toss Riddick the same handcuff key the Furyan had been carrying upon his capture. The bogus cop's voice held as much sincerity as it could muster.

"I could have killed you. Remember that. We're all on an even level here. We want to survive. The odds are much better if we work together. You'd be a fool to overlook that."

Riddick finished unlocking the bonds at his feet and looked up at Johns, gaze cold. He rose and tossed the key back, walking away, past the doctor who seemed quite unhappy with this pseudo-truce, and the girl who tilted her head up slightly but remained still otherwise.

"There," said Johns, uneasy relief in his tone. "Just have to know how to talk to him."

The doctor decided it was not a good time to mention the last conversation between himself and the Furyan.



Venture on to Part 2!

Disclaimer: Riddick, Johns, Shazza, Zeke, and the Pitch Black original plot/concept and some dialogue (c) Universal Pictures; all other active characters (c) me.



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