Fry put aside for the moment the fact that she had nearly jettisoned all of the passengers across the landscape. Thinking of it wouldn’t help her, and having other people know what she had almost done would help her even less.
Right now they were on the ground, no matter how it had happened they were on the ground. The first locker she came to was hard to open, as a piece of debris from the ship had fallen across the clear plexi doors.
The woman inside, a tall pale skinned woman with nearly black hair, had started to panic. Not uncommon after a sudden waking from cryo sleep at the best of times and these were not the best of times. The small placard on the side of the locker showed her name to be Montgomery, Sharon. If she heard her own name it might be easier for her to clear her head.
Shazza knew something awful had happened; the smell of burning electrical wiring cut through the fuzziness of disturbed cryo. No one had called her Sharon for years, and it was almost surreal to be called it aloud. The name was on her locker, marked like luggage. “Just Shazza….”
The nausea was the worst, and the disorientation. Shazza’s legs shook and large purple black spots floated in front of her eyes as she staggered almost drunkenly out of the remains of her cryo locker. “Zeke…” Her words were panicked and her eyes darted through the unbelievable wreckage in the container.
Fry tried to hold her up as she stumbled forward, pulling at the doors of the cryo locker. ‘Why won’t it open?’ Fry let go of Shazza, to run her hands over the side of the locker where the switch to open it was located.
Ezekiel, John; Shazza had called him Zeke.
Fry hated the flicker of relief that flowed over her upon realization that a man had survived the crash. She hated the weakness that implied and jammed it down deep where she had always hidden such things. She hated the need, and hated more that someone else might see it, least of all another woman, a woman prettier than she was, no less. Who knew how long they would be stuck on this rock before help came? Fry watched Shazza out of the corner of her eye as she helped Zeke out of the locker, helping him stand against his own grogginess.
Shazza was a tall woman, maybe five nine, with curly red hair, so dark it was nearly black. It would reach down her back if it wasn’t held up. She had intelligent, blue-grey eyes and a hard face. Shazza’s muscles strained under the weight of Zeke as she helped him stand.
Fry looked over Zeke, with an eye to what a man liked; she hated herself for that too. Nothing about the man stood out as significant. He seemed average, and rough looking. Still, Fry couldn’t help but compare herself to Shazza. Her survival might depend on a man to protect her and if that meant that she had to separate the pair, then she would do it. Neither of them wore wedding bands. It was a weak excuse Fry made to herself, but one she couldn’t keep at bay.
Fry was a cute, petite, shorthaired blond woman with green eyes. Fit and sexually attractive is what she had always been told, but that was something Fry was just willing to fall back on, if need be. She relied on cunning more than intelligence, on reading the situation and doing what was needed, the risks be damned, as long as she came out in one piece at the end. No one would suspect that in her, to look at her.
“We need to see who else survived the crash.”
Fry didn’t correct Shazza, if they wanted to think she was in charge, so much the better. If they were lucky, they would be off this rock before anyone knew any different. The sound of breaking plexi meant that someone else was awake, and the trio made their way over to Johns.
Fry had met Johns once already before he had boarded the Hunter-Gratzner with his prisoner. Disoriented from cryo, he didn’t look nearly as imposing now as he did then, even in his blue uniform with its badge, oozing authority. As one, they turned to look at the empty locker where Riddick should have been.
Johns suffered from more than just the disorientation of interrupted cryo. His hands shook. Not just his hands either; there was a shakiness in everything he did. Everyone else had just got out of cryo, so he didn’t look out of place, with his shakes and his sudden cold sweats.
Time was all he needed, just a little bit of time alone. Johns wanted to snap at the two women and that was something he knew he would have to watch. So he told everyone to stay together, and reminded them of just how dangerous Riddick was. That Riddick was a killer and wouldn’t hesitate to murder all of them.
Like Riddick himself, Johns too could use fear and terror to get what he wanted. Their fear would make them easier to control, which meant less work for him. The little blond woman acted as if she was in charge; well he was in charge now.
As he went off in search of Riddick, he fought not to fall prey to the fears he deliberately inspired in others. He was not afraid of Riddick. He was not, and wouldn’t tolerate the thought, even as the rat of doubt gnawed at him.
Riddick was loose and there was no way he could be sure the convicts’ chains would hold him. The man was a master of escape, and it was pure luck that he had captured him in the first place.
A flicker of guilt danced at the edges; Johns had shot a child and left her to bleed in the street for bait, he knew that Riddick would help her. He hated Riddick for what he thought was his weakness, but hated him more for what it made of him.
If Riddick, a soul-less convicted mass murderer, was somehow a better man than he was, he couldn’t hide that from others forever. Someone would find him out. The sooner Riddick was captured and back under his total control the better.
Johns had faltered and almost turned back to the relative safety of the debris-strewn deck. He would have preferred to not have to hunt Riddick in the dark warren of broken pipes and dark shadows of the half-buried ship.
Even if Riddick hadn’t managed to rid himself of his shackles, even if he was still blindfolded, Johns knew that the man preferred the darkness. His shined eyes made him see in the dark as clear as daylight, to say nothing of his sense of smell, heightened by years of brutal incarceration and military training.
He wasn’t just jaw jacking when he talked about Riddick. The man was known to drink human blood, it wasn’t just one of the things he had made up, although he wasn’t averse to doing that, making things up, if it got him what he wanted. The thought of hunting Riddick in the dark terrified him, but the thought of waiting until Riddick was well enough to hunt him in the dark was worse. Johns took one last look at the passengers as they dug the remaining survivors out of their cryo lockers, and went after Riddick.
copyright © july 2006 xxxevilgrinxxx