Author's Note: I do not own Riddick, more's the pity. I did not create Slam, merely this interpretation of it. I did not have any hand in the creation of Pitch Black. I did however create Spook, and the other characters not seen in Pitch Black.
The slam was a harsh bitch, she decided, peering into the near pitchy darkness outside her rabbit hole. She kept the small chamber brightly lit with whatever she could steal when the guards weren't looking. That way the walking ghosts out there couldn't get her easily. On her belly in the air shaft, fingers touching the grate to the outside hell, she listened intently for the quiet footfalls that would herald one of the few who knew her rabbit hole was nearby.
Maybe today she'd be all right... Maybe tonight they'd miss her and she'd be able to get some food. Tonight? Today? She shook her head. Eternal night, with scant refuges of dim light.
Women in this pit of hell were rare, and the few that were able to survive generally had managed to get a protector to whore themselves to. The few who didn't find protectors usually died tragically and painfully. Often the ones with protectors did the same, bleeding out in a filthy corner or in the icy water of the showers, a shiv in their ribs. She nervously touched the place on her leg, then at her armpit where her two shivs, liberated from the bodies of men who would no longer need them, lay concealed. Then to the small pouch on her wrist, sewn with her own hands, wherein lay hidden precious matches, sacred light.
Behind her was safety, her 3 books, her refuge of the damned. Before her was the lurking darkness with its prowling horrors, shivs in the dark, but food. Her ears heard nothing. She carefully pulled in the grate, then crawled forward, hooking the grate back into place. Nearby were the sounds of another pack fight, where the roving gangs of prisoners fought one another over something pointless. The guards, as well she knew, only stepped in if either a supervisor was nearby or if they had vested interest in one of the fighters. Well, at least she knew where not to be right then. Pressed close to the wall, she slunk away from the sounds of the ructions.
The inky corridors were a horrid maze, but her feet found their path with the deft tread of habit. That was a good sign that she needed to find a new rabbit hole. A pity, that. The current hole had everything she could want- the entrance was tight enough that most of her tormentors couldn't enter, while the double grates and the bend in the narrow crawlway kept her light from being seen. Maybe if she simply took other routes to and from her haven she wouldn't have to move... But she knew in the pit of her terrified stomach that she had to go.
Far ahead she could see the barest trace of light- the mess, where she could get food, and wolf down what little she could before the larger prisoners noticed her. She could hear the arguing and the angry growling of the guards. She blinked as she entered the light. The handful of guards stood next to the trough, their shock sticks in their hands. Beside the door was a stack of more or less clean bowls, and she reached for one, cradling the cold metal in her long hands. On of the guards spotted her, leering. His comrade, beside him at the trough shook his head, murmuring and pointing to her. She knew. It was why she was there, and it was stigmata that the guards either were revolted by or completely the opposite.
They were staring at the collar about her throat.
It was a plain circlet of round steel colored metal, with a thick thumbprint lock on the back. It was keyed in to the thumbprints of the guards so that in the case of her death they could remove the expensive piece of equipment. It was a brand to those who knew. It marked her to the guards as a freak, as a dangerous animal that had to be watched. It marked her to the guards as Psi. It was an Inhibitor. It made her just like any other piece of gutter trash in the slam.
She silently collected her bowl of what the prison system called food, then slunk away to a nearby space against the wall to eat the tasteless gruel. It was amazing, she reflected, how after a year in a place like this you stopped looking at what you ate. After two, you even stopped tasting it. Once the gruel had had a flavor, and she recalled that it was noxious, but survival meant ignoring it, and that was what her body did. She was even able to scour her bowl clean with her fingers, licking the last from their tips uninterrupted. It might not be such a bad day after all.
The darkness outside had been held at bay too long, and it engulfed her with malign hunger as soon as she stepped out of the door of the mess. Behind, trailing in what they thought was silence, she heard 3 men. Then 5. Her pace quickened, and she heard one of them swear softly. He had tripped in the dark. So one of them was as blind as her. She didn't dare look behind yet. Her pace quickened again. She was getting a little lead. Now she could glance behind her. 3 pairs of quicksilver pools reflected back at her.
Then she stopped.
Another pair of the eerie glows looked down from above her, the eyes of whoever she'd run into. She heard the other group stop, and they began to growl, posture, threaten in the dark. She slowly reached for her wrist pouch, bringing her hands up towards her chest in a fearful motion. All around her she could smell the reek of her pursuers, the earthy smell of the man whose feet she cowered near, the dust of the passage floor. Her fingers closed on a match, and she lowered that hand to the cement floor. The man above her snorted, and she glanced up. His eyes were on her briefly, then she saw the tiniest glint in the non-existent light, a vicious curved metal shiv held parallel to the floor above her. She heard the other men draw, heard them swear, threaten. Heard a name as her hand flew against the floor.
The match flared bright. Her feet were under her and she flew away, her pursuers cursing, blinded. The match lay on the floor behind her, and she peeked under her arm as she ran. The shiv above her had shielded the other's face, and she stole a quick sight of warm toned skin taut over rippling muscles as he lunged, his foot extinguishing the match.