Title: Magic Black: Chapter One, or Rise and Shine
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
Rating: R (violence)
Theme music: 1940 (Amplive Remix) by The Submarines
Setting: AU, first ten minutes of Pitch Black
Disclaimer: Not my books, movies or money. My plot, though… ish.
Note: Edited and reposted 3/28/15 - And to everyone who reviewed? You are all wonderful, amazing human beings. I love you all.
They say most of your brain shuts down in cryo-sleep.
All but the primitive side… the animal side…
No wonder I'm still awake.
Transporting me with civilians… sounded like forty, forty-plus.
Heard an Arab voice… some hoodoo holy man, probably on his way to New Mecca.
But what route… what route…
Smelled a woman.
Sweat, boots, tool belt, leather. Prospector type.
Free settlers… and they only take the back roads.
And here's my real problem: Mr. Johns, blue-eyed devil, planning on taking me back to slam…
Only this time he picked a ghost lane.
A long time between stops...
A long time for something to go wrong…
Riddick was awake when things started going wrong.
He heard the whispers of the bits of rock passing through the hull of the old transport, too far off for him to tell if anything electric had been fried.
He listened to the confused voices of the only two crew members to leave their cryo-pods – voices that became panicked shouts as the alarms started blaring. His pod was far enough back that he wasn't able to catch scent of anything that was going on. That was a disappointment.
He felt an increase in turbulence just moments before he noticed a rise in temperature. The smell of burning metal and scorched wiring reached him next, followed by the faint screech of metal tearing away.
Riddick snorted. The ship was heading planet-side. He would have smirked if the bit had allowed for it. Looked like Billy-Boy's luck had just run out.
He tested his bindings, tugging and pulling to feel out the weaknesses. He made note of what he found, but didn't move to take advantage of anything yet. If he survived the crash, he'd break free, but until then he might as well keep to the relative safety of the cryo-pod. Hell, he wouldn't even get as banged up as the other passengers, with as securely bound as he was.
He snorted again. Fucking Johns. If it hadn't been for that greedy son of a bitch, he wouldn't be in this position in the first place.
A heavy clunking sound interrupted his thoughts and the angle of the ship changed. A dozen seconds later, the sound happened again, closer this time, and the angle change was more noticeable.
Fuck. He'd been unconscious when he was brought on, so he didn't have any feel for the layout of the transport or for how large it might be. He had assumed they were heading down nose-first, but with the pilot purging weight they had to be falling ass-first. Not his favorite way to land a craft.
Two compartments purged, but they still weren't level enough for a safe landing. How many more before the one he was in came up?
A hiss and a thump, barely audible over the sounds of turbulence, came from across the aisle and then there were traces of gunpowder and morphine in the air.
Speak of the devil.
The fucker chose one hell of a time to stretch his legs. Maybe Johns would do himself a favor and get himself killed in the crash. Had to be less painful than what Riddick had planned for him.
The whole ship gave a sudden, bone-shaking lurch and Riddick jarred in his restraints. The compartment shuddered and jolted around him. He heard the deafening screech of metal ripping nearby, followed by an oppressive wave of heat.
He heard a strangled yelp of surprise from Johns and then, seconds after that, the sound of flesh hitting metal and plexi. He assumed it was Johns bouncing loose around the compartment and wasn't that a pleasant thought? Before he was able to enjoy that image too much, though, a body collided with his pod hard enough to shatter the plexi. It only took one whiff to know that this wasn't Johns.
A hand reached into the pod, scrambling for a grip. His shoulder got scratched several times, some deep enough to draw blood, before the hand got a solid hold on his arm.
Riddick heard grunting and panting. He scented the air. A young man – a boy, maybe – bleeding and riding high on adrenaline, not anyone he had run into before. There was confusion, and maybe a little fear, in the air as well, but above all that was the smell of battle. Everything else could've pointed to a passenger thrown free of his pod or maybe a stowaway knocked out of hiding by the crash. There wasn't any way to fake that last smell, though. No way anyone drifting for that long could smell of that particular mixture of blood, piss and entrails.
There was a gasp and a groan from the kid, along with sounds that indicated he was struggling to hold on. The grip on Riddick's arm tightened enough that there might be bruising later, but Riddick ignored it. He turned his face so that he was as close to the boy's arm as the restraints allowed and inhaled again, pushing past the battle-scent to the smells that lay beneath. Sweat, fatigue, pain and green - green like fresh cut grass or the woods after it rained. There was something else, there, too, nothing that he could put words to, but something spicy. It irritated his nose, like pepper.
The compartment was beginning to slow when the kid loosened his grip. Riddick heard him land on his feet on the grating, but didn't hear him move away. Interesting.
With swift, deliberate movements, Riddick braced his feet and tore loose the bindings that held him in the pod. It made more noise than he wanted, but once he had the shackles off, the other passengers wouldn't be a problem. He reached for the emergency release lever, gave a sharp tug, and welcomed the soft hiss of the plexi door opening.
Riddick paused before leaving the pod, listening. He heard harsh breathing, a pounding heart, and cloth rustling from where the boy stood. He heard debris settling, too, but nothing that meant anyone else was moving around yet.
Morphine and gunpowder lingered in the air - they led to a heart beat too slow to be conscious. Fucking Johns. More lives than a goddamned cockroach.
Stretching out his senses, Riddick picked up the sounds and scents of nine survivors. There were others, but he didn't count the dying. The temperature inside the ship was increasing steadily, if slow. It was going to be miserable hot outside. Lovely.
Satisfied with what he'd found, he dropped out of the cryo-pod and waited for the kid's reaction.
The boy's heart rate and breathing had started to calm, but his pulse was picking up speed again now that Riddick was closer. No hint of arousal on the air and the scent of confusion lingered, but the fear was fading. The kid still smelled of exhaustion and filth, though, as well as of green and that strange spice. Curious.
Riddick took a step closer to him.
The boy's pulse was a bit faster and the traces of fear that remained were heavy with adrenaline, but the kid held his ground and his tongue. Level headed and quiet, then. That suited Riddick just fine.
Amused, Riddick turned his attention back to ridding himself of his restraints.
First to come off was the bit. He slid the device over his head and let it fall to the ground with a loud clang while he worked the ache out of his jaw. The kid startled at the noise and, because he was finally able to, Riddick smirked. The boy huffed at him and his smirk grew.
Next – the blindfold. He slid it up, just a bit, and chanced a glance around the room, before he clenched his jaw against the pain that lanced through his skull. He let the blindfold fall over his eyes again. It was too bright in here for him to see.
The boy took a step closer, his heart rate spiking again, and he started putting off more fear.
Riddick didn't pick up on any new threats, but he did hear the kid raise his arm.
"Watch yourself," Riddick rumbled. "I've been known to bite."
The kid huffed again, but his pulse slowed down a touch and he lowered his arm. Still wasn't talking, though.
Riddick mulled the information over. The boy was curious enough to hang around and smart enough to take a warning for what it was. Might be useful to keep around, assuming he could keep up.
"Light's a bit bright in here. Think you can find somewhere darker, out of the way?"
There was a moment of silence, followed by a grunt, and then the kid was moving away.
From the first step, Riddick could tell that the boy was injured. The kid wasn't being loud about it, but his breathing got harsh again and the smell of pain increased the further they went. Despite this, the boy had a soft step – quiet enough that Riddick almost didn't pick up on his limp. The kid moved slow and deliberate, but whether it was for Riddick, in his blind and shackled state, or for his own injuries was hard to say.
The kid came to a stop, interrupting Riddick's thoughts. The boy was silent a moment or two, then tapped his foot against the grating two or three times. The next sound the kid made was a pained hiss as he landed on the deck below with a thump. The hiss wasn't loud and didn't last long, but it took the boy some time to catch his breath enough to move again.
Riddick frowned. The kid was more injured than he first thought. It couldn't be his first time dealing with pain, though, not if he was hiding it this well.
Riddick took two more steps and dropped down to the lower level as well. He waited until he heard the boy walking again and followed.
It wasn't too much longer before the kid stopped and grunted again.
The room felt cooler and few of the sounds from above were filtering through. Cautious, Riddick lifted the blindfold again.
He winced. There was still more light than he cared for, but it wasn't as bright here as it was above and there were deeper shadows near by.
He scanned their surroundings – nothing to see but piles of loose ship parts and the occasional sparking wire. Water was moving over metal somewhere nearby, but not in this room. The spot they were standing in was hidden from anyone who dropped down to this level, at least at first, and he saw at least two escape routes. It was a nice spot.
Riddick turned back to the kid.
The boy was short, a bit on the scrawny side, but it was hard to tell with the way his clothes hung on him. His skin was pale and his hair dark and unkempt. He held himself like he'd been on the run for a while – resting, but not relaxed, and alert for any signs of danger. His clothes were near to rags. There were tears, from running, maybe, but there were bits that were burnt and holes that had to have been put there by blades or claws. What was left was oversized and filthy. He wore glasses, too, but left lens was cracked. He took a moment to wonder how the kid had kept from losing them in the crash before dismissing the thought as unimportant.
It was hard to place the kid's age. From his height and build, Riddick would've said the boy had somewhere close to 15 years on him. Everything about the kid said that he was used to living rough, though. It was in easy to see in the way that he hid his pain and with how he was able to find a choice spot to rest. Skills like that didn't come without experience. Of course, experience like that meant he could be younger than he looked, or older.
It was his eyes, though, that really caught Riddick's attention. They glowed, as if lit from behind - almost as bright as the sparks the loose wiring was throwing off, but not half as painful.
The kid stood still while Riddick looked him over. His eyes flitted between scanning their surroundings and looking Riddick over in turn. His pulse had slowed quite a bit while they stood there, as had his breathing. All sorts of fascinating.
"You know who I am, kid?"
The kid's eyes flew to Riddick's and the corners of his mouth turned up. It took a moment, but he shook his head.
Introductions didn't matter at the moment, Riddick had just been curious. "You know how to pick a lock?"
The boy blinked and reached behind him with his right hand, a gesture that seemed more habit than deliberate thought. He frowned when he didn't find what he was looking for and looked down at himself. When he looked up again, he was chewing on his lower lip. He was putting off the beginnings of fear again and he looked concerned as he shook his head.
"You wanna learn?"
The corner of the kid's mouth tugged upward again and he stood up a bit straighter, the fear fading away again. He nodded.
Riddick felt the corners of his mouth twitch. The boy was eager to please. That could come in real handy. Possible that he had been beaten on, too, with the way he got scared that he couldn't do what Riddick was asking, but there wasn't anything he could do about that. He described what to look for and the boy took to searching their surroundings for something suitable.
Riddick watched the kid move and mentally ticked off injuries. Bleeding from the left shoulder - a puncture wound, recent. Bleeding from something along his lower back, as well, but not as bad as the shoulder. Limp meant a possible sprain to the right ankle, but he was moving well with it. There was more damage hiding under that mess of rags, but nothing that smelled life threatening.
Was the boy a local? The injuries would make sense if there was some sort of war or conflict going on. He hadn't heard any sounds of fighting when he was on the upper level, but he knew that that didn't have to mean anything. The smell would fit, too, if the kid was a local and smelling like green meant knowing where the water was. Having a guide to a water source on a planet as hot as this one promised to be would be priceless. He ignored the logistics of how the boy came to be bouncing around inside a crashing transport ship - for now.
The kid came back with half a dozen bits of wire and metal, any of which might be useful for picking a lock, and offered them to Riddick.
Riddick chose one, grunted his thanks, and set to work. The wrist cuffs came off first. It took a bit longer than he'd like, but the lock was at a funny angle on this model. Johns was getting smarter.
He snorted at the thought.
As he worked, he heard the other passengers beginning to move around above. Voices called out to each other and, on occasion, answered. He needed to pick up the pace.
He passed the restraints off to the boy with a glance to see how he was doing. The kid was scanning the room again, head cocked to one side. The boy took the cuffs with his right hand without looking, and turned his head a fraction to the right. Riddick had been about to start on the shackles at his ankles when the movement caught his eye. He followed the kid's line of sight, but didn't see anything.
The shackles were almost off when the boy reached out, stopping just short of touching Riddick's shoulder. Riddick grunted, but didn't stop what he was doing.
Johns was getting closer. Riddick was familiar enough with his scent and heartbeat that he'd been able to tell when the bastard had woken up. He was a bit impressed that the kid had picked up on John's movements as early as he did. Sharper senses than most.
The thump Johns made jumping down to the lower level masked the sound of the shackles falling to the floor.
The boy's vitals were picking up speed again, and adrenaline was back in the air. The kid had crouched down, watching Johns while trying to stay hidden. Had to be hell on his ankle. The boy was tense, mouth pressed in a firm line, jaw clenched. His eyes were scanning their surroundings.
Was he looking for weapons or escape routes?
Sometimes, the kid would glance back to Riddick, like he was looking for direction or instruction.
Riddick ignored him for the moment.
Johns stepped further into the room. His movements were slow and cautious, but his breathing was calm. The familiar smell of morphine and gunpowder was stronger now and laced with traces of fresh blood. The merc moved his head to one side and the light from above caught on fluid leaking from his right ear.
Riddick smirked. Billy-boy must've busted an eardrum.
He didn't seem too concerned with the idea that Riddick was out of his pod, though. Might mean he wasn't expecting Riddick to be able to get out of his chains or maybe he trying to find his shot-gun shells. Either way could mean he was getting a bit sloppy. Hard to tell with Johns, though.
A quick scan of his surroundings and Riddick was able to find a jagged bit of metal that fit his hand well. He'd have preferred having the time to wrap the makeshift hilt for a better grip, but this would do.
He glanced at the boy again and was surprised to find the kid meeting his gaze. Riddick motioned for the boy to stay where he was and to keep quiet. The kid wore a curious look, but nodded and took a step or two toward some of the deeper shadows.
Riddick turned back to his prey. Johns bent down to the floor for something. There wouldn't be a better opportunity.
Riddick took two quick strides and lunged for Johns. He saw the mercenary's hand close around the grip of a pistol the moment before he collided with the bastard.
Fuck. He'd have to make this quick.
Riddick planted his makeshift blade in Johns' side and let his momentum take the both of them to the floor. Johns yelped in surprise, but rolled with the grapple. They struggled for a few moments, but Riddick was able to pin Johns' right arm to the grating. Johns didn't waste any time reaching for the collapsible baton the fuck liked to carry with him with his free hand. The little shit was fast to introduce it, repeatedly, to any part of Riddick he could reach, too.
This left Riddick with a choice: take a beating and keep the mercenary's gun arm pinned, or let up on the gun arm to stop the beating.
Riddick grunted with the impact of another blow from the baton. Maybe there was a third choice.
Keeping as much of his weight on Johns' right arm as he could, he pulled his shiv free from the bastard's side. Johns' barked with the pain and managed to wrench his gun arm free just long enough to fire the pistol in Riddick's direction.
Ears ringing, Riddick had just enough time to determine that he wasn't hit, before everything went black.