At first Tommy couldn't believe what he was seeing, they were travlin' the back streets of know space and he was picking up a distress signal that thirty years ago was the top of its line in evacuation ships.

"Hey Gunner, come take a look at this."

A tall black man stalked over to Tommy's chair.

"Ha, pity they're still alive, could have got Salvage Rights."

Salvage Rights in deep space consisted of something along the lines of '--- We have the space junk, i'faith, and we will kill any whoreson who tries to take it away from us---'

"I say we ignore it, no need to tell the Capt'n."

"Hell no, there could be a woman on board. How long is it since you had a woman?"

Wheedled Tommy.

"Too fuck'n long, man."

Gunner walked off to inform the captain. Tommy continued to stare at the screen; he licked his lips and smiled.

"Fresh meat, yummy, yummy."

...........

"Evac ship 4512_853_688754_557237 we have received your distress signal and are awaiting conformation of your position. Over."

The gravely voice startled them all, Jack gave a whoop as Riddick reached down to reply

"Looks like your prayers worked Holy Man."

Said Jack to Imam. She had taken to Riddick's nickname for him.

"I never doubted that they would not."

Imam answered calmly. Jack turned to look out the space screen of their little skiff; she wanted to be the first to spot their rescue vessel.

...........

"What a hunk of shit!"

Jack exclaimed as they docked, their rescue vessel didn't even look like a vessel. It looked like a doughnut, an old doughnut.

"It's a research station."

Said Riddick, he raked the stations exterior with his eyes, noting the places scored and pocked by asteroids, the missing or damaged equipment and the D.I.Y patches, "Or was."

............

That conversation had taken place a day ago, and Jack's first impression of the station hadn't changed.

"Hey, Kid."

Jack looked up at the sharpness of Riddick's tone

"I thought I told you not to go anywhere by yourself."

Jack couldn't tell, because of the goggles, but she though Riddick might be glaring at her.

"But---"

"No buts. None of these guys have seen a girl in a long time, the fact that you're a child 's gunna mean jack shit to them. Got me."

The way he said those last words riled Jack.

"Hey, I can take care of myself."

"Not against more then one I'd wager."

Jack gave a bitter laugh.

"Don't worry Riddick, you won't have to come rescue me."

Riddick grabbed her arm

"It's not me rescuing you that worries me,"

He crouched down and pushed his goggles up, meeting her eyes he said, "I don't want you to have to go through that."

Jack stared at Riddick as if he'd grown another head, and for a second Riddick though he'd said the wrong thing, again. Suddenly a tear slipped down Jack's cheek and, without warning she leaned forward and hugged him. At first Riddick was to shocked to move, then slowly he let himself respond. Jack could feel Riddick stiffen as she put her arms around his neck; she let out a breath of relief when he hugged her back. It wasn't a particularly good hug; Riddick held her as if her was afraid of breaking her, Jack put that down to lack of practice. With a smile she pulled back and after a moments thought lent in and kissed him on the cheek.

"Thank you."

She said, then she went and sat with Imam at one of the other mess benches.

.............

Riddick slowly raised his fingers to the spot where Jack had kissed him, no one had ever done that before, given him an innocent kiss. Something in Richard B. Riddick cracked at that moment, it was only a small crack, but it was a crack nonetheless.

Imam watched the exchange silently, and smiled.

...........

"Where's the next port of call?" Asked Riddick. Captain Tralid turned his one good eye on Riddick and studied him, Riddick, in turn, studied him. His wrinkled and weather skin suggested he had been dirt side for some part of his life; he was of medium height and build. But the really distinguishing feature about Ford Tralid was the scar that ran from his left temple, through his eye, and ended at the corner of his mouth. Knife wound.

"Couldn't rightly say, Trinities, if nothing delays us."

Riddick mentally mapped that rout. About six weeks Earth time.