"Cosmic Castaway"

Prologue

They had reached a space station in half the time it took them to lose all of 37 people. It was a giant welding of stray spaceships. A rough sewing job of any dying heap that came throttling through their section of the galaxy. It was stable though, and looked a hell of a lot better than the cramped bunker they had escaped in.

As they neared the docking bay, Jack coughed at the sweet smell of dried blood. It didn't seem to bother Riddick and if Imam felt differently, he didn't make his feelings known. She, on the other hand, was beginning to self consciously rub at her shirt, trying to get at least what she had gotten onto her hands to go away. The sickening feeling of her own blood dripping and pooling in and around her pants made her dizzy. What bravery she had soaked up from the man beside her had leaked out with her blood. All she could manage to think of was the hope of water, any sort of water.

Imam had asked her to sleep, to at least lie down and rest – how could she? Every time she closed her eyes just a little, all she got were flashes of moments that filled her up with so much fear that she couldn't breath.

To pass the time, she helped bandage Riddick up, unphased by the glare in his eyes. She had also sat up front with him and watched the stars and planets pass quietly, so as not to annoy him.

When they landed, Jack sat up and began to climb quickly out of the copilot's chair. Imam stood before her, a calm hand resting on her shoulder as she neared the back hatch. For the first time since the crash, Riddick slowly stood, pacing himself, as if he were trying to sense the outside world.

"So what's the plan?" Jack looked back, watching as her companion slipped his goggles back over sensitive eyes. "Pilot dropping two off to New Mecca?"

Riddick didn't have to look at Imam to tell him the plan; the holy man knew by the way he opened his hand slightly, secretly eyeing the situation. If she could have seen the flicker of guilt that reflected in his eyes now, she would have gladly played dead for the cause. She had no idea that her next words would be muted by the sound of her head striking the metallic bunk.

Riddick knew the space station. It was for colony drifters that couldn't quite make it to a habitable planet. It was a good place to be when you were hiding from Mercs or just wanting to catch your breath for a week. If anything, he could heal up before deciding what to do with the two new add-ons to his life.

Imam walked quickly beside him, a hand resting on the back of Jack's head to cover the colorful bruise he had given her. "How could you, Riddick? A child! What will you tell her-"

Even when his stance was calm and relaxed, Riddick's presence could stop a sentence in its tracks. "Him. As long as he's out, we call Jack, a he. That's the last thing we need; a pms-ing teenager, pissed off at us cause we blew his cover without permission." He kicked the door to their living quarters open – not to make a point, but it was seen that way.

"He could have passed as a pupil, Riddick." Imam stood in the doorway, soft purple light filtering into the dark room.

Riddick could be seen setting Jack down on a small bed set into the wall. "Close the door and shut up, you're giving me a headache."

"Is this how you will be treating us, now that we are off that planet." Imam closed the door, feeling for a chair. The station conserved energy by turning out the lights after twenty three hundred – if only they knew that this was almost home to one of their residents.

The convict disappeared into the darkness, guiding the other man towards another set of bunks built in a private alcove. He worked wordlessly, letting Imam find his bunk before he went back to the door. "Get some sleep. I've got a few errands to run."

Despite his anger, a tired tone entered his voice. "You are all we have, Riddick. I would like you to remember that as you walk out of this room."

Light reflected off polished eyes, a sure sign that the man in the doorway was hiding more than his past from the two settlers. However, all of that was swallowed up in the sound of a metallic door sliding shut.