A/N: Sorry it took so long to update, I've been super busy with a bunch of stuff and I found myself stuck in a writer's block rut. I've been trying to keep everyone updated (plus, I posted pictures of Eris - well the actress I based her off of) on my tumblr (snowflake13x), so check it out. The actual link is in my bio. I still have to re-write chapters 6-10, but I wanted to shoot a new one out for y'all in the meantime. Big thank you to everyone who has reviewed and favorited…I love getting those notifications! Octoberbaby91, Bumblebee transformer lover, Guest, KasonSama, Layla347, ShortNinja13, Sweet Summer Heart, Giggles1512, Hikaru69, Jordan91, and Mikiichann. As always, I don't own Pitch Black or Riddick. Sadly.
We kept moving, everyone's fear so thick in the air you could almost choke on it. The clicking and shrieks continued as the creatures followed us–sometimes it seemed as if they were right on top of us. Our lights wouldn't last forever and I had the sneaking suspicion that those…things…knew it, too. Plus, we had Jack bleeding, which made the situation even worse. I sighed and glanced at hi-er, her. That's going to take some getting used to, I thought. She looked upset. I understood why she had kept her gender under wraps, it was actually smart thinking on her part, but I was still a little irritated that she had failed to mention that very vital piece of information.
I snuck a quick look at Carolyn, who seemed even more upset than Jack, if that was even possible. My anger spiked as I thought about just how close I had been to dying because of her. Not that this is much better, I thought wryly. A quick, painless death falling out of the sky or an extremely painful death being hunted by bloodthirsty creatures. What wonderful options.
Imam and his remaining student trudged along, taking their turn with the sled. I knew Imam still held on to some hope that we would make it out of this and I gave him props for that, especially after the loss of his two students. My hope had jumped ship with a parting middle finger back when the eclipse started.
"What are they doin' up there?" Jack's question startled me out of my reverie. I looked up to see Johns and Riddick a little ways in front of us talking in low voices. I tried to focus on what they were saying, but couldn't make anything out.
"They're talking about the canyon, I suppose," Imam replied, "How to get us through."
I secretly called bullshit. There was purposefully enough space put between us and them so we wouldn't be able to hear. I narrowed my eyes and thought about it. Johns was getting desperate, that much was obvious. What little deal or plan was he trying to make? I knew Riddick had his own agenda and as long as I kept moving, I was included in it. My suspicions were confirmed when Riddick glanced back at us and Johns grabbed his arm to turn him back around.
"Imam, slow down. Just a little more space between us and them." Carolyn said, moving up beside him. She caught it, too.
Johns seemed to be slightly agitated while Riddick was as calm as ever–the calm before the storm. I tensed when the two men stopped and Riddick turned to face Johns. I don't know what was said, but as soon as he lunged for the merc and the shotgun went off, Carolyn panicked.
"Leave the sled!" she shouted, "Let's move!"
Imam and the boy dropped the sled and started running after her, trying to backtrack the sled marks. I hesitated, and then followed. I really, really didn't want to leave Riddick because I knew he was the best chance I had of getting off this planet alive, however, I knew that without the group's light, I didn't stand a chance.
I was in the rear, as usual, trying to make sure that Jack didn't fall and get left behind. She stumbled and I grabbed her shirt in a death grip and half dragged her along. Knees to chest, knees to chest, keep it moving, I inwardly chanted. I heard a gunshot and was almost 100% positive that Johns was dead, which really didn't bother me, but where was Riddick?
The creature's shrieking and clicking intensified, and Carolyn suddenly stopped. I let go of Jack as everyone shined the lights around, trying in vain to pierce the darkness. Carolyn gave a strangled scream when she turned to find Riddick standing directly in front of her. Speak of the devil.
"Back to the ship, huh?" His voice was flat, laced with derision. "Just huddle together until the lights burn out?"
"Get away from us." Carolyn tried to sound tough, but it didn't work when her voice shook. Trusting the convict was most likely not a wise decision, but it had gotten me fairly unscathed and this far so I wasn't about to lose faith in him just yet.
Riddick continued as if she hadn't spoken, "Till you can't see what's eating you. That's the big plan?"
"Where's Johns?" Imam asked.
Riddick paused, and then smirked. "Which half?"
"We're gonna lose everybody out here…" Jack whimpered. "We should've stayed at the ship!" I shot Riddick a dirty look and put my arm around her shoulders.
"He died fast," Riddick said, nonplussed, "And if we have any choice about it, that's the way we should all go out." He glanced at Jack. "Don't you cry for Johns. Don't you dare."
It was an unspoken decision that we would continue on with Riddick as "leader", go back and get the sled, and then make the last, most terrifying stretch to the skiff. We moved, Riddick leading the way in the darkness until we came back to the sled. We really hadn't made it that far, I realized after only a few minutes of walking. Amazing what fear does to your mind.
Imam and his student took up sled duty again and on we mushed; Carolyn and Jack on either side and Riddick taking the lead. I flat out refused to take up the rear, so I positioned myself once again between the sled and Riddick. We walked for a little bit longer, everyone lost in their own thoughts before Riddick stopped at a large pile of bones and told us to get the cells off the sled, along with all the rope. Without waiting for a reply, he walked over to the bones and stood gazing at them, arms crossed and brow furrowed in concentration.
"Well this is just fan-fucking-tastic," I muttered, eyeballing my light. I didn't say anything, but a quick glance around showed that the alcoholic nightlights were getting low. The canyon was right in front of us and you could hear the echoes of the creatures. From the sounds, there were a lot of them.
My heart twisted for her, but what was I supposed to say? I couldn't very well tell her that I was scared shitless, too. That certainly wouldn't help. I finally settled on the truth and tons of false optimism.
"I'm scared too, Jack, but if anyone can get us out of this, its Riddick. He's the best Big Bad, remember?"
I winked and was rewarded with a quick smile. The sled had been quickly unloaded and Imam asked if everyone wanted to pray together. I shook my head and gave him a small smile.
"No thank you," I said, already moving towards Riddick. I gave Imam a look and he thankfully took my queue, placing a reassuring arm around Jack girl and leading her towards the other two where the four of them huddled together.
"You should stay with the others. In the light," Riddick said when I stopped behind him. I rolled my eyes at the back of his head.
"What do you see?" I asked, peering around him.
He didn't answer and instead hung his lights on one of the bones, then picked up a fragment turning it over in his hands. I watched in silence as he placed it on one side of a long deceased creature's head. He grabbed onto a bone that jutted out on the other side and cocked his head.
"Blind spot," he said softly.
"So…is that a good thing?" I ventured.
He flashed a predatory smile over his shoulder. "Could be."
"Shall we pray together?" I gasped and Riddick dropped the bones. I hadn't even heard Imam walk over and apparently the convict had been so engrossed, he hadn't either.
He gave the holy man a stony look and sat down, fiddling with the ropes for the cells. I sat as well, while Imam placed his light on a rock.
"I have already prayed with the others," he said, kneeling. "It is painless."
"It's pointless," Riddick shot back, tying a knot.
"Because you do not believe in God," Imam offered, "Does not mean God does not believe in you."
"You think someone could spend half their life in a slam with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe?" Riddick interrupted. "Think he could start out in some liquor store trash bin with an umbilical cord around his neck and not believe?"
My heart absolutely broke as I heard Riddick share a piece of himself and I forced myself not to let the tears that were welling in my eyes drop onto my cheeks. He wasn't looking for sympathy or pity by telling us, he was simply stating it, his voice quiet and almost emotionless.
"You got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God." He finished another knot and looked up. "And I absolutely hate the fucker."
"He is with us nonetheless," Imam replied, not judging, not offended.
"Two of your boys are already dead," Riddick said and I winced. "How much faith do you have left father?"
Imam didn't answer as he slowly stood and picked up his light. There was no anger in his eyes as he looked at Riddick, just sadness and compassion. He nodded his head in my direction before joining the others, leaving Riddick and I alone. I wanted to say something, anything, but I was at a loss for words.
"Cat got your tongue?" he asked lowly, glancing at me.
His sharp gaze hardly ever missed anything and I was sure he had seen my watery eyes, so I proceeded with caution. I knew that whatever I said now, in this moment, would change our tentative friendship, relationship, whatever it was, forever and that he was testing me. I decided to keep it simple.
"No, just thinking about how I'm going to do whatever the hell it takes to make sure I keep up with you and get off this fucking planet."
I gave him a small smile and hid my surprise when he smiled back. I had passed the test. He finished off the last knot and stood, holding out his hand to help me up. I grabbed it and he hauled me to my feet so quickly I stumbled into him, bumping my nose on his rock hard chest.
"Ouch," I groused, rubbing it and shooting him a glare. "I swear you do that shit on purpose."
"Maybe," he said noncommittally, putting his lights back on. "Let's go."
We walked over to the others and Riddick announced that it was time to move out in a tone that brooked no argument.
"Are we all good?" Carolyn asked, her forehead creased with worry.
"As good as it's gonna get with us heading straight to our suicide," I mumbled. She gave me a dirty look and I shrugged.
We made our way to the entrance of the canyon and stopped behind Riddick who had his eyes on the path ahead.
"Only see one way," he announced, pointing to a clear stretch that led straight through the canyon, high walls on either side. "That way. It's the only way off this rock. Just keep the girl between you."
"What about the cells?" Imam asked as he brushed past us.
"I'll take those."
We all stared at him in shock. He was going to drag all five of them? By himself? I didn't doubt his strength (well, maybe just a bit), but endurance was going to be a problem since none of us knew exactly how far away the skiff was.
I watched as muscles rippled when Riddick grabbed the straps for the cells and hoisted them over his shoulder. I knew my mouth was hanging open, but I really didn't care. If we weren't in our current situation, I would be all over him right now. He caught me staring and his lips curled into a smirk before he put his goggles on.
This was it. We held our lights high, nerves on edge, muscles coiled.
"Are you sure you can keep up?" Carolyn asked warily, stalling.
Riddick roared. "Move!"
I took a deep breath and started running.