Chapter One: Found
The rustling of Imam's beads in the back of skiff stirred Jack from her sleep. It wasn't much, sleeping on the cold metal floor, but it was what they had. Riddick was sitting in the pilot's chair. He was leaning back, but he wasn't sleeping. Just in pain, Jack mused. Sitting up, Jack noticed how dizzy and feverish she was feeling. Not one to complain, she kept her mouth shut. It wasn't like she was the one who had almost bled to death.
Jack quickly glanced at Riddick's left leg. She had clean the wound as best she could, lucky for them there had been a first aid kit on the skiff. Imam had stitched it, and they couldn't do anything else about it. Jack knew it bothered him. Riddick hated anything that made him look weak, and a wound that traveled eight inches up his leg was definitely a weakness.
"Are you alright, Jacqueline?"
The beads stopped rustling and Jack rolled her eyes. Her name wasn't even Jacqueline, but the holy man refused to call her anything so unfeminine.
Riddick shifted slightly in his chair, listening to their conversation. Jack knew that if she wasn't so used to being around him that she would've missed it. He was checking up on them, and trying not to be obvious at the same time.
Jack lied gruffly. She was far from fine. Hungry, cold and short of breath, yes, but definitely not fine. She may have been young, but she definitely wasn't stupid; they were running out of o2. The way things were going they'd most likely suffocate before anyone found them.
Jack lied back down. When she was sleeping she couldn't tell if there was a lack or air or not. Jack smiled bitterly in her sleep. She realized that she would have rather been chased and ripped apart by those ugly monsters than go back to the home she had run from. Nothing could compare to that kind of torture.
Riddick watched jack out of the corner of his eye. Her back was to him, but it was clearly obvious how uncomfortable she was. The holy man was still praying; he could hear the annoying click of his beads and the quiet murmur of a chant.
They had both managed to get under his skin, affect him, like Carolyn had. He hated that woman more than ever now. He knew that he wouldn't be able to leave them somewhere unsafe—that is if they all didn't die on the skiff. He also knew that if they got picked up, he'd most likely be shipped off to mercs and back into the Slam. He really didn't want that to happen, again.
Riddick turned his attention back to the dead space they were traveling in. The skiff had lost its piloting ability long ago, and now they were just floating. Riddick wasn't scared of dying, but he had always pictured himself going down fighting. They'd probably say I'd murdered the girl and the holy man just to make it more interesting, he mused. Nothing about him in the news was the truth anyway.
He looked down at the control panel and wondered if the radar was broken. The machine was showing the arrival of a ship, but Riddick didn't see it. Maybe the lack of o2 was going to his head already. Something pushed into them from behind, and Riddick could feel them being pulled into the cargo bay of a large ship. Imam was startled, but for the most part he didn't make any noise. Jack was quickly slipping into unconsciousness and wished that there was something he could do to fix it.
"Get ready to be a diplomat, Imam. You know once they see me they might start shooting first and asking questions later."
Riddick stood from the chair and stretched. His muscles flexed and some of his bones popped. He couldn't even feel the stitches in his leg anymore, but he knew that they had to come out. Riddick picked Jack up; she was feather-light and trembling in his arms. He could hear the churning in her stomach and knew that she was starving. Hell, so was he, but he had gone a lot longer without food before. And the holy man was used to fasting, or whatever.
"Do you think they will kill us, Mr. Riddick?"
Imam's voice was strong, but whispered. Riddick felt for the man. He had watched three young boys die for no reason, and he couldn't even protect them. If they had been Riddick's responsibility he would feel like kicked shit too.
"Nah, they're curious. If they wanted us to die, they would've left us on the skiff."
Riddick said nonchalantly, and he watched the realization dawn on the holy man's face; even Jack had more sense than that. If there had been no ships around—or no ships that stopped—they would have died. Riddick knew that the animals would've killed themselves off by the time the suns rose, but he doubted they would've survived another week. Even with Fry dead. Nothing that woman had done made sense to him, they would've died.
The gate began to open as the skiff's system was overridden. Riddick instinctively moved into the shadows, holding Jack close to him. Imam followed his example. Riddick knew now why he liked the holy man—he knew how to survive.
The light didn't startle him, Riddick had been expecting it, and it wasn't too bright. And he was sure nothing would be as bright as two kick ass suns beating down on his head for several full days. The darkness had been a welcome relief. For him anyway.
Jack stirred in his arms, her hand clinging to his tank top. Subconsciously, she knew that something was going on, and Riddick was just glad that she was still functioning. It wouldn't sit well with him if she died; not now. They would need a doctor though.
There were sets of boots striding slowly on the gate, and Riddick signaled Imam to remain as still and silent as possible.
"Is anyone here?"
It was a woman's voice, thick with command and compliance. Riddick could see the side of her face. Her curly hair settled just past her shoulders and she was holding a gun. The man with her was less alert.
"Is there a doctor on this ship?"
Imam had spoken. Riddick figured it was as good a time as any. The crew members didn't seem to be any kind of friendly.
"Come out with your hands up." The woman said fiercely.
"Miss, I can barely stand up. I will come out though."
Imam moved from the shadows and kept his eyes diverted from Riddick's hiding spot. Riddick remembered that Imam's leg was injured as well, but his robes hid it well. The man sure did know how to play with people's emotions. Jack would be proud.
"Who are you?"
"I am Imam Walid, passenger on the Hunter-Gratzner ship to New Mecca."
The woman was facing Imam now, the gun still pointing at him, though it was more relaxed.
"Are you the only survivor?" She asked suspiciously. She had not been expecting there to be a holy man.
"No. There is more. I seek medical attention for a young girl. We have been on this skiff for a very long time, and we were running out of o2."
Imam said calmly. Riddick could never understand how the holy man dealt with people. The woman was still pointing the gun at him, and the man was poking around in the shadows from where Imam had come from. Riddick couldn't help but think of him as an idiot.
"Is there anyone else?"
"Yes, a man."
"Why won't he come out?"
The woman looked around cautiously. Her eyes passing over the spot Riddick was hiding in several times. Riddick smirked—humans were so stupid sometimes.
"He is a very cautious man. And he is protecting Jacqueline."
"Is she the girl that needs help?"
"Alright," the woman said sounding more determined. "Captain, we have three survivors of the Hunter-Gratzner transport. Tell Simon to prepare the medical station for them, and tell River—."
"I can't tell River anything."
The man, Captain, said. He had a deep voice and a hard face. From his appearance Riddick would say that he had been on the losing side of the war.
"Sure. Just do what I asked."
The woman rolled her eyes. She was dead loyal to her Captain, but sometimes his head was too far up his ass for him to notice anything.
"Okay, your friend can come out now. I swear that no one on this ship is going to cause any problems."
Riddick thought it over. It wasn't likely that anyone could cause any problems for him, without some serious consequences, and he was sure that the woman wasn't being completely honest.
"What is your name, Miss?" Riddick smirked at the holy man's fatherly tone.
"I'm Zoe Washbourne, Fist Lieutenant of the ship Serenity, and this is Captain Malcolm Reynolds." Zoe and Imam shook hands as Riddick stepped out of the shadows.
"Oh Zeus, is she okay?"
Zoe stared worriedly at the small girl in the big man's arms. He was as large as Jayne with bronze skin and a nearly bald head. He was wearing goggles, so Zoe couldn't see his eyes, but so was the girl. Her head was shaved as well, and her clothes were baggy: she was dressed like a boy.
"She's fine; tired, hungry, and maybe a little sick. Where's this medical station at?"
Zoe wasn't bothered by the stranger's rudeness. She had lived with Jayne for the last couple of years. There wasn't anything crude that she hadn't heard come out of his mouth. Nothing fazed her anymore.
Zoe said in her commanding tone. The holy man moved first, and Riddick walked carefully behind them. His leg hurt a bit, and he didn't want to drop Jack. He had been expecting a larger crew, but so far he had only seen two and heard of two others. Riddick could sense the other presences, and the smells were strong too.
There was someone waiting for them when they got off the skiff. She was about the same height as Jack, and thing to, though her face was sharper. She had long waist length hair and big eyes.
"That's River; our resident psychotic and expert martial artist."
River smiled slightly, turning her eyes toward Zoe. Zoe tried to hide her surprise. It had almost been a full year since she had met River and the River at the beginning of the year was completely different from the River now. She seemed almost normal sometimes.
"Captain said you had to tell something to me."
Zoe smirked; her speech wasn't quite back to normal though. River surveyed the newcomers, especially the holy man. She could feel a certain spiritual power in him, and she knew that something was protecting him. It was strange to feel that kind of power, a power that wasn't evil.
Riddick watched quietly. There was danger radiating out of every pore of that girl, River. He wasn't scared of that—as if some little girl could scare him—it was her scent that bothered him. The same way that Jack's scent bothered him; it seemed too familiar.
"Can you dump the skiff? The ship doesn't need the extra weight."
Zoe asked quietly. She would never admit it, but she was intimidated by River. With good reason, though, she assured herself. River nodded and disappeared up the ramp toward the cockpit. Zoe shrugged her shoulders and started to move on.
The medical station was on the bottom level of the ship. There were three people in the room, including the Captain, and Riddick had a feeling Jack would probably laugh at all of them.
"Lay her here. How long has she been unconscious?"
The stern black haired man asked, directing Riddick to the metal examining table. Riddick thought he looked too young to be a doctor, and he wondered if the kid really knew what he was doing.
"A few minutes."
Riddick's voice boomed even though he spoke quietly. He didn't feel comfortable wit the doctor checking Jack, and he knew that Jack wouldn't like it either. He made sure to watch the doctor, and the mousy brown-haired girl who was checking Imam's leg. He wasn't much of a trusting person.
"Care to introduce yourself, sir? I'm Captain Malcolm Reynolds. You know Zoe, this is Kaywinnit Lee Frye, and the doctor is Simon Tam."
Riddick barely glanced at the Captain. The man was harmless, and he annoyed him more than Riddick liked to admit. Not enough for him to want to kill him, but enough for him to not want to be around the Captain.
"I'm Riddick, that's the holy man, and that's Jack—."
Riddick sentence was cut off when he reached out, grabbing the doctor's arms and twisting it behind his back, effectively forcing Simon to drop the syringe he was holding. Riddick felt several guns on him, and he smirked.
"Don't stick her with anything, got it?"
Riddick said harshly, and even Imam was surprised at the sudden show of force. Simon knew that it was an order, not a question and he nodded in agreement. He didn't really want to die today.
Imam swallowed thickly, all the while managing to keep his calm expression. He knew that Riddick wouldn't really jeopardize their situation further, but it was still nerve racking to see something like that happen. Especially after the T2.
Zoe continued to stare at him suspiciously. The only person she had ever seen move that fast—without really moving—was River. And that was when she was in her fighting mode. It was a bit unnerving to think that Riddick was anything like River.
"Why don't I show you to your rooms, and then you guys can tell us more about the crash?"
Zoe suggested, though it didn't really sound like a suggestion. Riddick could tell that the woman had more command than the Captain, but he wasn't one to follow orders.
"Go ahead holy man, I'm not going anywhere."
Riddick said, looking straight at Simon, and for a minute the young doctor thought he was looking directly into the eyes of a man who had seen death.