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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

(Read Part 1 first?)

Chapter 5

Nero drove the sand cat while Johns kept an eye on Riddick. Shane slept fitfully on a pile of rags in the back of the cargo bed. The goggled killer sat behind the driver's seat, appearing to be look out across the mass graveyard of long-dead behemoths but his eyes were locked onto the girl. Before leaving the downed ship, Riddick had moved the crates she'd hidden behind just enough to look back there. With the chalk stone the girl had drawn two perfect circles, shaded to look like Riddick's eyes in dim lighting. It would have been the image she'd seen the first encounter they'd had before she'd made him the key. She was the only reason he was putting up with this farce. That, and a nagging thought that Johns hadn't shown all his cards yet. Even so, overconfidence might yet be the agent's undoing.

Meanwhile, the fascination Riddick had with the girl was more than being impressed with her mystical abilities. He'd lived through twenty-five years of hard knocks. The kid was just starting hers, and her caretaker was a huge part of that. Riddick's varied success in surviving had his full range of skills to thank. The kid was working with a deck stacked against her from the outset.

In all honesty, it wasn't fair. Sure, life wasn't fair, but this kid really had it bad. What the hell Riddick could do about it was highly questionable. Kill the doc, sure. Prove to Johns that the convict should have died in the ship. Then what? Riddick knew very little about taking care of anyone other than himself, and even less about elementals. And since when did elementals have mental issues? Then again, the only other self-proclaimed elemental Riddick had met deep in Butcher Bay prison had been completely off his rocker. Perhaps the trait was more common than people claimed.

Or maybe some part of the doctor's claim was true. Riddick didn't like the thoughts that led to. Maybe Shane was half human. That would explain a lot...

Johns watched as Riddick started up the transport ship's systems. It only took a few seconds to confirm what the Furyan feared. There was barely enough power to run a system diagnostic. Flying was out of the question.

He shoved away from the panel in disgust. "You fuckin' idiot, Johns."

"It'll fly, right?" The bounty hunter kept an uneasy hand on the shotgun at his side, but it wasn't raised yet.

"How the fuck should I know? We've got no power. You could have told me this before we got here." This must be the card Johns was withholding, but it made no sense beyond stalling for time. And that was the last thing Riddick wanted to do. He didn't see how it helped Johns either. The bounty hunter had made another in a long series of bad calls.

"We can find something to run it on, right? Whoever was living here before should have a backup supply or something."

Riddick glared at Johns. "Have you seen this backup supply?"

Johns shook his head. "We haven't looked everywhere yet, but there's one room I'm not going back into now that we know what lives down there. And that big toasted building is probably impossible to search."

Riddick slammed a hand into the door frame. Johns jumped in startled reflex. The killer's voice was a dangerous growl. "There's fuel cells on the crashed ship. We were there already."

"We can go back. No problem. We've got time."

The Furyan just walked out the cockpit door, not even looking back as he replied coldly, "Never assume you have time." Since they were at the settlement now, it would be stupid not to take a look around on the off chance there were backup cells stashed somewhere. Riddick wasn't going to spare that option much time, though.

Nero had been refilling the water bottles and filling more when he noticed Shane had disappeared again. It was a fairly easy guess where she'd gone; he went to the door of the creepy planetarium. She was there on the floor as before, staring up at the suspended structures.

He came closer, realizing how few times in her life the child had looked directly at anything. He saw now that several of the planets were aligned in their current configuration. One of them was completely hidden behind the shadows of the large, ringed gas giant.

Nero did not want to look any closer, but dread drew him on. He reached for the hidden planet, turning it slowly. The label came into view. "You are here."

The doctor was hauling the kid across the courtyard and calling for Johns. The bounty hunter strained beside Riddick, trying to pry open a door to the burnt section. He shouted his location, uninterested in being summoned elsewhere.

Nero rushed up. "There's something you need to see."

Johns replied with sarcasm in his voice as he wiped sweat from his brow. "If it's not fuel cells, I'm not sure why I care."

Riddick stopped fighting the door while his "ally" was distracted. The Furyan suddenly felt small fingers curl around his hand. He looked down to see Shane's face turned towards him though her eyes were fixed elsewhere. Behind him. She turned to face the direction of her gaze and lifted her arm, pointing. He turned and stared at the horizon. Gigantic, fragile-seeming rings had appeared beyond the lip, shimmering in the heat. Planetary rings.

Johns and Nero noticed the odd fixation in the other two and spun to see the surreal sight. The doctor put a hand to his forehead as he murmured, "That's what I was going to tell you. The model in one of the rooms shows an eclipse. Total eclipse."

Riddick picked up the girl and hustled past in the direction of the sand cat. "We leave now," he ordered, all business.

"Hey!" yelled Nero indignantly, but Riddick wasn't stopping or putting down the doctor's prized experiment.

Johns just followed the convict, the realization that time had gone out the window speeding the agent's feet. He took the wheel as Riddick placed the kid in the back on the same pile of rags and took the spot he'd held before. He got a glare from Nero as the doctor climbed in next to him even as the vehicle roared to life, moving forward. The doc opted to stay in the back this time, though he kept a good couple feet of metal bench between himself and the killer.

Shane moved to sit by Riddick's feet. The doctor reached for her but the Furyan slammed a hand down on the side of the cargo bay, making both the other men jump. The girl just stared at the horizon. Johns glanced back to see what the problem was, turning forward again to concentrate on getting every bit of speed out of the sand cat while maneuvering it across treacherous terrain.

He yelled over the noise at the two adults in the back. "Quit fuckin' around, now is not the time to start fallin' apart."

Nero grumbled a slur under his breath. Riddick caught it, but decided to make the doctor eat those words later. For now the Furyan watched the planet rise, a truly spectacular sight. Beautiful.

There were four good fuel cells. Four went on the sand cat. One problem: the last of the three suns was now passing through the gas giant's rings. It would set within a few minutes at most, and the dim light making it through now wasn't enough to keep the sand cat running.

Johns cursed and turned towards the involuntary sunset, watching the curtain of night fall across the landscape. So very black, and so very imminent. An eerie cacophony of echoing sounds rose suddenly from the hill of spires. The next moment, clouds of tiny black things flew from holes in the mounds, up into the air, swirling, joining, swarming.

Riddick watched the predatory, dangerous patterns in awe. Again, it was, "Beautiful."

Nero shouted, pointing down the crash trail. Shane was wandering along it, oblivious to the oncoming doom. The cloud of shrieking beasts heard the cry as well, shooting through the air towards the crash. Nero was running for the girl. Riddick was faster.

The Furyan reached her just before the creatures did, putting a hand out to flatten her as he dove for the ground. To his surprise, the hand did not meet her back until she was already on the ground. She had ducked first. The wheeling mass of creatures passed right over the two, and from the lack of screaming death behind them, Nero must have ducked for cover as well.

The air cleared after a few seconds. Riddick didn't move except to slowly turn his head and look into the little eyes that stared right back at him. She couldn't see his eyes behind the goggles, but Riddick had the distinct impression it didn't matter. Hers were wide open, the slightest shake in her body, in her head, showing just how scared she was. And how brave.

The Furyan heard Johns bark at Nero, telling him to get down. A moment later the flock sped past again and there were the screams. Shane seemed to calm, her eyes closing as the two listened quietly to the cries of terror and waited for it to be truly safe.

Nero had almost made it to Johns, who was ducked behind the cover of the ruined ship edge. The bounty hunter turned his shotgun flashlight on and shone it at the doctor and the things biting and clawing the fleeing man. The cloud broke into squealing chaos and retreated in a distorted mess back towards the spires.

Riddick stood, helping the girl up, brushing off his hands, leading the way back to the crashed ship. When he arrived to see Johns tying makeshift bandages all over Nero, the Furyan's only comment was, "Damn, he lived."

Nero hissed through the pain. "You wanted this to happen."

Riddick grinned. "I'll admit, it was a great idea. But it wasn't mine."

The Furyan turned to look at Shane, who lingered by the upper lip of the crash trail, watching the last rays of sun spike across the gas giant's edge. Nero stared at her back, realization followed by hatred distracted only by his own pain. A sudden cracking sounded from the spired hills. Riddick ventured up to the rim beside Shane, raising his goggles to see the distant mounds crumbling slowly. There was movement up there. Bigger things than the little cloud-forming creatures.

As dark fell in a final, all-encompassing black, Riddick took Shane's hand and led her back to the solitary light: the shotgun lying on the shattered deck. He checked the stores gathered earlier by the now-dead, finding two flares and the blowtorch. There was also a utility harness with lights embedded in it. Riddick turned it on only long enough to be sure it worked. That went over his shoulder.

The Furyan led the little girl past the other two, heading into the ship. "Time to go inside, boys and girls," he said in passing.

Johns helped the injured doctor up and followed to the stairs into the lower hold. The door sealed behind them and Johns kept working on Nero's extensive injuries. The doc was a mess. Shane stayed far from the bleeding man, keeping a perch on a crate where Riddick had set her. She rocked back and forth slowly, arms hugging herself. Riddick disappeared for a moment, then a soft blue glow returned with him. He'd extracted a working emergency light system complete with portable generator. It was bright enough the Furyan needed goggles, so hopefully the creatures would stay clear of it. Shane moved down to touch the pretty, flexible tubes.

Something slammed into the side of the ship. Nero jumped and cursed at the pain the reaction brought. "We're gonna die in this shithole," he whined.

Johns kept his voice relatively even. "At least they can't get in here."

Something clattered in the distance. Inside. Riddick moved to the edge of the light, lifting his goggles to watch for the inevitable. One of the creatures appeared high up a stack of crates, making the eerie echo noise. It was definitely one of the predatory creatures whose skeletons had been painfully rare. This one had skin and movement and the desire to kill. Riddick backed up and went to the hatch, listening.

Johns looked up at him. The bounty hunter's voice was a doubtful whisper. "What are you thinking, Riddick?"

"I'm going," came the low voice. "I'll drag the fuel cells to the outpost. Come with or die here, your choice."

Nero scoffed. "You are out of your fucking mind."

Johns held up a hand. "We have the blowtorch, we can cut into a smaller area, box in, wait it out. How long can this last?"

Riddick turned, stone-faced. "I'm sure that's what the others said in their cozy little scientific paradise. We saw how well that worked." He moved to the light generator, curling a long tube around Shane before lifting it. "The light goes with us. There should be enough to make it. Stay close, they know our blood now." He gave Nero a pointed look.

Shane followed in her coil of light as Riddick popped the hatch. The area was clear, though forms flitted just beyond the shadows. Johns brought up the rear, supporting Nero, the gun's flashlight more powerful but less diffuse than the blue glow Riddick carried. A skiff was jury rigged fairly quickly. Johns noticed in the process that Riddick had found a blade.

The bounty hunter growled, "I thought I said 'no shivs.'"

"This?" Riddick said, displaying the nicely balanced survival knife. "This is none of your fucking business."

Johns didn't argue. Riddick was their ticket out, and the big guy hadn't actually killed anyone yet. Directly, anyways. The presence of a weapon was dually noted, however. Johns clicked off the shotgun's light to save the battery; it took two people to drag the skiff and make good time. Nero managed to stumble along behind it without help, a coil of light wrapped around him and the blowtorch clasped in his hands to add further protection for the still-bleeding man.

Shane's weight wasn't much when added to that of the fuel cells, so she sat by the light generator pulling absently at the blank dog tag still around her neck. Several bottles of water also made the cargo. The four cylinders weighed in total about the same as two full-grown men. Riddick and Johns pulled the entire lot, the Furyan's drag line longer so he could walk ahead of the light, navigating the way through what was pitch black for everyone else.

Chapter 6

Creatures surrounded them on all sides, just outside the circle of light, but the pace stayed decent on open ground. Progress slowed in the bone field. Nero kept stumbling, eventually stopping dead in a tight canyon created by ribbed bone walls and stone. Riddick noted the tension on his line first and shaded his eyes as he looked back towards the man who'd been muttering nonsense for the past fifteen minutes. Earlier they'd spotted him taking pills he had stashed in a pocket. It was anyone's guess what they were.

Riddick said offhandedly, "You could dope him up with some morphine. I'm sure you have enough to drop a mule team."

Johns just glared back at the Furyan and tugged at the line. Nero said something much louder, in what sounded like French. Johns turned as Nero pointed at the girl.

"She did this to me, little demon! It's all her fault!" He took a menacing step towards the girl on the skiff.

Riddick threw off his harness, murder in the eyes he still had to shade from the light between him and his foe. The doctor took one look at the advancing Furyan and fled, dragging the entire glowing apparatus with him. Shane shrieked as the generator sparked and died, the glow fading fast as darkness fell. Nero found himself cut free of the useless electronic burden a moment later, still stumbling away from his would-be attacker. Except the enemy did not strike.

Nero wasn't sure where he was anymore. There were odd sounds around him, scrapings and swishings. He felt air move in front of him and reached out to feel something like living leather. A moment later, pain tore through his hand and he screamed. Eerie cries rose up around him in response even as a green flare lit somewhere behind him. Too far away. He realized as further pains erupted along his body that he was being eaten alive.

Johns decided against investigating the doctor's screams. The now-useless creep was one less unstable person to worry about, not to mention keep alive. The bounty hunter swung the flare around and jumped back as he illuminated Riddick standing staring at him coldly with one hand already rising to shade his eyes. The other arm held the little girl. Shane's face wasn't visible beneath the fall of blonde hair, but she appeared alive and in one piece as she clung to the Furyan.

"Well," said Johns, "I'm glad to see you're still alive."

Johns didn't mean the kid. Riddick knew it. The glare stayed dark as the Furyan passed him and moved to set the girl on the skiff, murmuring a few words the bounty hunter didn't catch.

"Watch her," the man with alien eyes ordered. He slipped off into the dark.

"Where the fuck are you going?" Johns called out into the darkness, but nothing answered him. "Riddick!" Dead air, the hiss of something inhuman beyond the flare's illumination. "Wonderful, just wonderful." Johns couldn't haul the fuel cells alone and he had no real clue which way the habitat lay, nevermind that his pilot had just vanished. The phony cop was stuck. With the brain-dead kid. Wonderful.

Riddick prowled through the dark near the kill site. Finding the right piece of corpse without being detected had proved difficult, but nothing a little patience and inhuman speed couldn't overcome. He found what he was looking for, the faint red glow making the discarded item easier to find. The light meant it still worked. The Furyan pocketed the thing before it drew attention to him, slinking back towards the canyon holding the skiff.

Johns grew even more impatient as the flare sputtered. The quality of the thing left something to be desired. There was only one more and he had no idea how far it was to what was left of civilization. He was trying to save the shotgun battery for when they really needed it, and wasn't sure he and Riddick would make it with just that and the unused thing the Furyan had on his back.

The bounty hunter sighed in exasperation and moved away from the skiff, towards the gap Riddick had vanished into. Johns couldn't see the big guy, or anything else besides the creepy bone walls and a few feet of dirt. He glanced back at the girl staring at him from her place, still within the light but not by much.

Johns turned back to the gap and raised the flare, trying to see further into the distance. He thought he saw something move, but the moment he took a step towards it, the flare popped and died. Shane screamed behind him. He whirled and lit the last flare, rushing back only to find the skiff empty and no sign of the child or any invading creatures. The only movement was a fallen bottle of water rolling to a stop in the dust. The others had been smashed. He spun one way and another, shouting the girl's name, then suddenly the ground heaved.

The flare tumbled from his hand as he fell. Bone structures all around cracked and shifted, whole sections falling and raising clouds of dust. The quake stopped, but Johns was still shaking as he rose, shotgun ready, light on. Nothing he pointed it at moved now besides settling dust clouds. He almost missed the Furyan's swift arrival behind him. The bounty hunter spun, gun leveled at Riddick's chest. Johns took full note that Riddick's goggles were back on; the killer had anticipated the light.

The Furyan's voice was a deadly growl. "I told you to watch her."

"Change of plans," the human gasped, trying to sound more confident than he felt at the moment. "The kid's just in the way. No problem now. I figure you can take that shot at dragging the fuel cells solo. If you don't, you die here, and I try my luck waiting it out."

The sputtering flare behind Johns popped loudly and he flinched. It was all Riddick needed. The gun went flying, light shattering into oblivion. Johns barely dodged the second blow, rolling and pulling out his baton as he rose. Riddick circled him, knife in hand. A false strike, a second feint, then the Furyan took a blow from the stick to make the real strike. A shallow cut, but a cut nonetheless. A cut that bled.

Johns felt the injury with his fingers as he spun, the failing light making it impossible to see where Riddick had gone to. The wound was nothing. Then he realized what the killer had done even as the deep voice echoed off cold, unfeeling bone.

"Told you, Johns. Should have killed me when you had the chance."

The nearly-useless flare hissed as it died. Riddick listened to the terrified scream as he traded watching death for following the tracking device. Hopefully the other end was still attached to Shane. The grid showed it wasn't moving. That could either be good or bad. The bounty hunter's cries ended in a way that spelled only bad for the agent.

Riddick saw the creature first, perched on top of a section of bone that had fallen over the girl. The slow red blink on her ankle almost corresponded to the breaths the girl took. She was staring straight up at the vile thing poised above, little hands balled into tight fists. She didn't move except to breathe.

The creature seemed confused. It bobbed its head and made its creepy cry, clawing experimentally at the improvised cage and protection for the strange thing underneath. Riddick wasn't sure why it hadn't left yet, then he smelled what the creature was smelling. Shane's blood. The not-quite-human tang was where the confusion lay for the echo-locating predator.

The monster apparently decided the strange-smelling thing was food, going into a sudden frenzy as it tried to break through the obstruction. Shane screamed shrilly and Riddick tore from his cover, charging the thing with a roar. It turned on him, defending its meal from the new competition before realizing the competition was very similar to the other meal.

The Furyan had no intention of getting eaten, though being underestimated always improved a situation. He slammed into the thing full-force, knife going into the creature's midsection. He dodged and held back claws and ducked the jabbing head as he ripped hole after hole in the thing, alien guts spewing out as he dug for more. The knowledge of the blind spot he'd hoped never to have need of came in beautifully handy as the creature thrashed in confusion.

The thing finally seized up and fell, rolling away with one last rattling hiss. Riddick straightened, wiping creature blood off his hands and knife. "Did not know who he was fucking with." The Furyan was lifting the heavy fallen bones from over Shane a moment later and she flew into his arms. It took him a second to realize her aim had been awfully good for someone who shouldn't be able to see him in the dark. He drew her back for a moment, staring carefully into tearful eyes that did not look back.

"Can you see me, Shane?" He waited, silent now in the dark, nothing nearby to disturb this particular exchange. He'd flick the light belt on his back into glaring action if needed... but he watched Shane for now, waiting.

She felt along his dusty shirt and gritty, sweaty shoulders and face, eyes still looking off somewhere in the distance. Then she bent to the ground, picking up a handful of dirt. She sifted it through her fingers as she made a trail of the cool substance up the Furyan's arm, across his shoulder, and up over his head, being careful not to get any in his eyes. Then the girl smiled brightly at him, eyes following the trail of dirt. Riddick cocked his head to the side and she mirrored him, still smiling. The Furyan voiced the conclusion his mind presented.

"You can see... the earth on me?"

Shane nodded, looking away again, the smile fading and the usual expressionless neutrality returning to the young face. Riddick shook his head, amazed. He wondered what else the kid could do that he didn't know about. The Furyan had a feeling Shane didn't know her full potential. At any rate, this meant she could see the ground. And probably anything covered in dust or made of rock, maybe even basic metals.

He lifted the girl and carried her back towards the skiff, goggles on, the lights on his back bright now. He might be a target with dead creature scent on him and the girl was still bleeding; even if the smell wasn't well-known to the aliens yet, it was best to be safe now. There would be no further interruptions from incompetent partymates. The question of what the hell am I going to do with this kid? got shoved to the back of the Furyan's mind. The only real answer to any questions right now was get the fuck off this planet alive.

Chapter 7

The shotgun still had good rounds even if the light was dead. Riddick slung the gun across his chest and detached the skiff harnesses, rigging them directly to the fuel cells. The four cylinders were unwieldy and heavy as hell but the recently deceased had been correct: Riddick could drag them all together. He'd keep the goggles on, the lights on his utility belt placed across his right shoulder for maximum coverage. Alone, he'd do it with the light behind and goggles off, but he had the girl to consider.

The shallow slash along Shane's left arm had been bound with a makeshift bandage and she trotted along beside the Furyan now, carrying the last bottle of water as her guardian hauled ass. He needed to keep a fast pace to lessen friction between the cells and the ground. The girl had no problem keeping up even though others had had limited success moving her at all so often. He was amazed again at just how much Shane understood of the situation. She followed his orders at any rate. Somewhere in there was a very smart mind. That much had been evident when she'd chosen to align herself early on to the only other worthwhile individual on the entire fucked-up expedition.

The humidity was rising to an uncomfortable level. The Furyan pushed on, sweating profusely. He couldn't stop yet. He didn't want to stop at all, but he'd need water before much longer. Running himself into the ground now would be stupid. A flash of lightning lit the sky, an act of nature that would have badly blinded and stunned the Furyan if his goggles had been off. He grinned to himself. Shane was turning into a bit of a good luck charm. Not that he put much stock in luck, but his had improved greatly since meeting the kid. When just she was around, at any rate.

The sky decided to present a fix to the humidity issue even as the thunder boomed across the forlorn landscape. Rain broke into an almost instant downpour. It felt good on the Furyan's hot skin but it made the going more treacherous even though the fuel cells slid easier in the forming mud.

Shane made a distressed sound and slowed, catching onto one of the harness tethers before matching the pace again. Too much of Riddick's breath was needed to keep moving under so much weight; he couldn't ask her what was wrong. Not that he expected a logical answer. He put his own intelligence to the puzzle as he kept pulling the load, trying not to slip as he climbed an uneven hill.

She'd freaked at the rain. It still seemed to be bothering her now, though she kept the pace and a death-grip on the cord. She was at least part earth elemental by all accounts and evidence. Water must fuck with that. It made sense, though the concept of dissecting elemental-related logic was something new to the Furyan.

As he rolled the puzzle around his brain some more the thought came to him. She hadn't been looking at the earth on him at all. Or maybe she had, but it was more than that. She'd been sensing him. That would explain how someone who never seemed to watch where they were going could run along beside him now without problems. When the rain had hit, it'd washed the dirt off him, though even now he still felt gritty. Perhaps the water obscured him from her elemental senses.

Speaking of water, he needed some now. Being drenched in it was no substitute for drinking it. He paused at the top of the hill where the fuel cells wouldn't slide, Shane halting as well and breathing almost as hard as he was. The kid was a trooper even though she probably hadn't gotten much exercise under her neglectful taskmaster.

Riddick crouched beside the girl and took the water bottle, opening it for a hearty draft before handing it back to her, still open. "Drink," he said, and she obeyed thirstily. He capped the remainder and gave it back to her to hold again. "The rain," he said, nodding towards the sky, "it makes it hard to see?"

"Mmm," she said in response. It wasn't a negative or positive sound.

Riddick had no idea how big the girl's vocabulary was, but on a hunch he clarified his question. "It makes it harder for you to sense me?"

She nodded her head slowly. As usual, she wasn't looking at him. The haze he was so used to seeing in her eyes wasn't there either. She was looking at something real. He followed her gaze towards the general direction they should be traveling and stood up with hands already raising his goggles as he pushed the lights further behind him.

There was the distinct glow of light where the complex should be, just beyond the final ridge of the graveyard. It hadn't been there a minute ago. Had someone else survived the crash? Riddick held no doubts that everyone he assumed dead was truly gone. Were there other survivors still trapped on this planet? If someone was alive over there, they were stupidly announcing their presence with the display. Maybe it was an automated system that charged during the daytime. Fishy that it was on now, though.

If anyone was watching for a random stranger in the bone field, Riddick's light stuck out like a sore thumb. He didn't dare turn it off. Rain might mask the two if he weren't hauling fuel cells, and hadn't already been tracked this far by hungry local wildlife. He'd just have to suck it up and hope for the best. They were so damn close. Just a few more hills and the canyon leading up into the final ridge.

Riddick patted the girl on her rain-soaked head. "If you really are lucky, you'll wanna pull out all the stops on this one."

Shane just sniffed and stared off at the distant light. Riddick slid the goggles back down and adjusted the harness and light on his shoulders before taking the girl's hand. The hill was too steep to haul the cells down properly. He let the weight go first, sliding down behind it, slowing the descent as best he could while Shane scrambled to keep up. Then they were back to the usual endurance run.

Trouble didn't hit until the last canyon. It came from the sky, thick swarms of the aliens both young and mature. The rain lightened but now something else was splattering into the mud. Alien blood. The creatures were killing each other over the traveler's heads.

"Don't look up!" Riddick barked, straining to move faster.

The child obeyed, but was having trouble keeping up as dying young aliens screeched down around them. Shane shrieked as one came down in the tether cables, trying to bite whatever flesh it came near as it slipped to the soggy ground. It darted for Shane's leg but never made it; the Furyan's boot flattened its skull with decisive finality.

Riddick kicked the body out of the way and tried to keep going but the aliens were desperate enough to dive closer to the light and Shane was sobbing in audible terror with every step. He couldn't carry both her and the cells. The aliens would get them first at this rate. The things might manage it even if Riddick abandoned the fuel cells and made a run for the complex with the girl.

Another creature came in too close, claws extended, catching Riddick's left shoulder and tearing along it. The Furyan cried out at the pain, injured arm slamming the offending creature aside. The flock above went completely mad and dove even closer, thrashing endless wings and talons at the uncooperative prey. A second hit scraped past the Furyan's ear on the left, raking along the skin behind; the goggles luckily remained in place and intact.

The two were making no progress now. Another wild strike almost hit the lights on Riddick's other shoulder. If those broke, he and the girl were truly fucked. Just as he was thinking of his one unexplained power that would still only delay death a little longer with this large an enemy, he felt the ground shiver under his feet.

"Shane, no!" Riddick shouted over the din of screeching, flapping chaos. "They don't care. They can fly. We need to walk."

The tremors continued, Shane only able to wail in terror. Riddick realized she couldn't control this. Her abilities were reacting to the child's desperation. No, the very earth was rising up to help her. Though right now it was more likely to bury both humanoids in a mudslide. The tremors intensified, the creatures above unfazed.

Riddick fell to his knees and slid the shotgun onto his back before drawing the child into his arms, holding her tight, one last-ditch attempt to comfort the girl for all the good it would do. He begged her over the roaring frenzy around them, "Please Shane. Stop!"

A vast sheet of flame erupted overhead, sending creatures careening everywhere in screeching fireballs. Riddick shielded the child from the chaos, unable to discern the source of the flame as smoke and fumes from hundreds of charred bodies filled the air. It was a job just to keep from getting severely burned by the casualties as the blazing stream flared over the canyon repeatedly.

Shane coughed and shuddered. Riddick felt the earthquake lessen in intensity and realized the child was finally trying to calm down. Her eyes glazed over from the effort; the Furyan held her close and ran a hand through her tangled hair, the blazing death from above less of an issue now as the remaining creatures decided they didn't want to stick around for the barbecue.

The earth was still again, and the stubborn rain was putting out the reeking fires littering the area. Riddick found he was shaking instead of the ground now. He gasped at the gusts of fresh air the storm brought into the canyon and collected himself. They were alive. Against all odds. That fire had come from somewhere. He gazed up to the far end of the canyon; he could see now how close they'd actually gotten. The canyon ended in less than two hundred feet.

To have died so close to their goal would have been a damn shame. The party responsible for keeping that ending at bay now stood at the top of the ridge. The glow of the settlement revealed a single silhouette wielding a bright flashlight.

A female voice called down, "Any survivors?"

Riddick hesitated a moment before answering. "Here."

He got to his feet, shaking off the trauma as adrenaline reserves coursed through his system. This helped him push the pain of burns and claw rents to the back of his mind. Something told him to be careful. Partly, it was the fact that he was a wanted criminal. The rest had more to do with a complete lack of trust in other people, regardless of the fact that this one had just saved his life. He carried Shane the remaining length of the canyon and scaled the ridge. The fuel cells would stay where they were for now. The mysterious savior did not need to know about those until Riddick was sure just who or what he was dealing with.

The woman kept the light on him as he approached. She saw the child and gasped. "Oh poor thing, is she okay?"

Shane flinched away from the new voice and burrowed her face into Riddick's wet, bloodstained shirt. He gave the unfamiliar-looking woman his best fake apologetic grin. "She doesn't like new people."

The woman smirked grimly. "Not even new people who saved her life? Ah well. Come on, my ship's this way. Anyone else left alive in this unstable little hellhole?" She lifted the cannister and flamethrower beside her with her empty hand and moved towards the settlement.

Riddick kept a neutral tone as he followed the woman into the now-lit complex. "Just us. Transport ship went down, crew died on impact, rest of the passengers didn't make it."

The woman nodded. "I can see why. Jesus Christ, you're lucky I was close enough to get the distress signal, though this place is so far out it still took me a while to get here." She clicked the flashlight off and clasped it to her belt.

They were passing through the courtyard now. Shane wanted down. Just like that, out of the blue, the worn and drained child wanted to walk on her own. Riddick set her on her feet, keeping his confusion to himself as the woman watched, slowing her pace.

Her voice held slight reservation as she asked, "She's a little on the, uh, 'special' side?"

Riddick answered evenly again. "You could say that."

The tracer on Shane's ankle was now much more visible as the girl pulled away from Riddick's hand to find her own wandering course across the clearing. He couldn't help but wonder, What are you doing, Shane? This wasn't like her. And she had to be dead tired. Her actions put him more on edge.

Meanwhile, the woman nodded towards the girl. "She's tagged?"

"Long story," was his simple answer.

"Well, I'd love to hear it, but really, it doesn't matter in the end." The woman drew a small, hidden gun with lightning speed and pointed it at Riddick's head, carefully setting down the flamethrower to get a two-handed grip.

"I hate it when I'm right," growled the Furyan, halted perfectly still. He was too far away to try a strike at her and she had very steady hands.

The woman smiled smugly. "There's a reason I had particular interest in the SOS signal from the ship with your manifest. You're worth a lot of money, Richard B. Riddick." She glanced at the child only for a moment, noting that the girl was wandering off in a slow daze, feeling along the walls. "And I know that kid's a retard. Fat lot of good she does you now."

Riddick didn't correct the woman. Though cases were extremely rare these days, some people still knew autism was a whole different brand of mental condition. Riddick had only heard of one other severely autistic person, a legendary prisoner who could solve any puzzle given to him. Rumor was the guy had taken a turn at viewing security systems as a puzzle and solved one involving an entire solar system's commerce. The woman standing before Riddick now definitely didn't need to know that Shane could potentially think on a level beyond normal human limits... or that she was an elemental.

Riddick stalled for time, keeping his gaze fixed on his new enemy. "And you are?"

"Archimedes," answered the woman, the smile still smug.

Riddick knew that name all too well. Archimedes was one of the best bounty hunters alive. "Everyone says you're a guy."

The smile widened. "That's because none of my bounties live to tell otherwise. I'll admit it's awfully tempting to break that rule this time. You're worth so much more alive." She paused as if considering for a moment. "No, I think you're better off dead, just like all the rest of the scum in this universe."

"What about the kid?" Riddick thought he saw something shift in the wet sand behind Archimedes, but he couldn't be sure. He kept his gaze locked onto the woman's eyes, hoping for just the slightest moment of distraction so he'd have half a chance of jumping her.

"Maybe I'll leave her to poke at the pool of blood you'll leave behind until she starves to death, or something eats her. Survival of the fittest, and all."

Something was definitely moving behind the bounty hunter, in the break between buildings that would lead to the transport. Three small, sharp stones were rising unevenly from the dirt, hovering up into place several yards behind the woman. Right about at head level. Riddick shifted his gaze to the stones, visibly moving his head so Archimedes would know he was looking behind her.

The woman rolled her eyes, a gesture quick enough not to present an opening. "That's the damn oldest and saddest trick in the book. I expected better from you, Riddick."

He just shrugged, watching more stones rise. There were six of the things now, control eerily stable.

"Your babysitting reject is over there," Archimedes nodded to her right, which meant Shane was somewhere to his left behind him.

The Furyan just smiled. He was no longer merely tense so as to be ready for an opening. He was waiting for the rocks to move. If Shane moved them only fast enough to distract the bounty hunter, Riddick would need to charge the woman. If Shane overkilled, Riddick had no interest in being anywhere near the trajectory of those things.

The stones sped so fast Riddick dove for the ground without hesitation. Archimedes had just enough time to spin around before the makeshift projectiles tore through her skull. Her reflex shot hit empty air beyond the courtyard exit as her body fell, just another corpse in a too-long day of death.

Riddick turned towards Shane as he rose only to see her eyes roll back into her head as she fell. He was beside her in a moment, afraid one of her own earthen bullets had ricocheted and hit her. He found no such injury and realized she'd merely passed out. Her breathing was even, pulse not as strong as he'd like, but steady.

The Furyan sighed. He was beat, and the adrenaline crash was telling him he needed to do like Shane. Sleep. That was actually the second item on his to-do list. The first was about to be remedied without dragging any more damn fuel cells through territory that would just as soon eat him as not.

He lifted the child into his arms and stood, making a brief stop at the corpse for the keycodes to a ship that, if rumor proved true, was infinitely nicer than the abandoned colony transport. Archimedes had been known as one of the most self-important and indulgent lone wolf bounty hunters in the galaxy.

The rumors proved true. The sleek, red, long-range vessel housed one fugitive and one child very nicely. Riddick performed a thorough scan of his new ship from both his onboard scanners and the ones on the transport. It came up clean. No tracking devices, tracers, homing beacons, or any other such inconvenient transmissions.

Not even the tracer attached to Shane registered. The technology of both the anklet and the tracking grid were vastly alien; Riddick figured the doc hadn't even known exactly where it came from, probably bought it off some black market trader. It was unclear how to remove the device, and the only controls on the tracking panel were touch-related on the grid screen. Hit the center to zoom in, the outside to zoom out.

He'd mess with it more later, as well as check out the other luxury options surrounding him. For now, he secured Shane in the passenger seat and slid into the pilot's seat. Engines fired and the ship rose smoothly, the able pilot enjoying the feel of a really good ship at his command again. He made a flyby of the courtyard and armed a missile as the ship climbed higher. He locked on to the center of the complex and let loose the fires of hell on the ship's former owner and all that surrounded her. That done, the Furyan wasn't spending one more second in this system than he had to.

The flying alien swarm whirled through the atmosphere but could do nothing now, slamming harmlessly into armor and tempered cockpit glass that such pitiful creatures couldn't even begin to damage. Riddick left them behind along with their damned eclipse and the bits of bodies he'd never care to remember. Everything he cared about was on this ship. What he was going to do with the kid, well, that was a question best answered after some serious shut-eye. He'd sleep on it. The first real rest since long before the crash.

^^ Yep. Iz mah revamp of one of my favorite films, pretty much only because of Riddick and the kickass special effects but hey. IT'S RIDDICK. (The Chronicles of Riddick is my all-time favorite movie. And Escape From Butcher Bay for XBox is my favorite game... see a trend? Heee.) Wouldn't you know it, but LiveJournal won't take a 15K word entry. xD If you made it all the way through the fic via these two entries... you get a GREAT BIG HUGE COOKIE! ~♥ And I'd love to know what you think of it. Good/bad/wtf/OMGZRIDDICKLUV/etc. 8D

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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