Feel my beautiful girl thrum beneath me, settling into her weight. I keep an ear out for the merc’s promdate, but he doesn’t seem to be doing too much back there. Quiet. Watching. Waiting? I’ll have to deal with him soon enough, in one way or another. Help him, or kill him. I guess the choice is ultimately up to him.
He’s a real mess though. It would be a shame to have to kill him on top of everything else he’s clearly been through. Outpost 17 falls behind me now. I keep an eye out for tails. Looks clear so far. Settle the Virago behind a tiny moon, holding orbit.
One last look, before making my way back to the prisoner. Carefully. He’s managed to get the keys out of the pocket of one of the mercs, but, the way he’s cuffed, can’t get them undone. He’s sitting back, against the wall, with the keys in his hand, watching me. Probably wondering what the hell I intend to do with him. Even from a few feet away, I can feel the sick heat rolling off of him, his breathing in soft pants. Light coffee skin, where it can be seen under the grime and blood, covered in a sheen of sweat.
“You wouldn’t have lasted a day if they’d delivered you, sweetheart.” Said more to myself, than anything. Not going to get much of a conversation out of a man wearing a bit. Question is, do I unchain him? Or not? Don’t much care for keeping a man in chains, but I don’t feel like getting killed for my trouble, either.
I crouch down on my heels, eye level with him. I still can’t tell if he can see me through those goggles or not, but he does appear to be following me. Something about those goggles…
“Needless to say, we’re no longer going to Epsilon 4.” As I reach for the keys, in his hand, watching him the entire time. His head tilts a little at that, the skin bunching at his brows, over the goggles. I guess we’re both trying to figure the other out. Probably wondering if I intend to take him anywhere else.
“I’m not a merc, just a pilot……” His huge fist relaxes around the keys, the distrust, the wariness, still in his face.
“I’m going to take that fucking bit off first, and then we’ll see whether I take the rest off, is that all right?” I wait for him to nod, before I move. Probably prefer that I free his hands first, but I don’t feel like losing whatever edge I’ve got. He’s got about a hundred pounds on me, easy. If he really wanted to cause me trouble, he probably could, at this distance. Chained or not.
Still no fear off her. Just wariness. Nothing stupid about this woman. She’s kneeling nearly on top of the first merc she killed. Doesn’t faze her in the least. A lot of women would get pretty damned squeamish about that. To her, it’s like three dead bodies bleeding into the floor are a regular occurrence. Fuck, maybe for her it is.
Not taking me to a military prison ship. That’s not entirely a surprise. I got that impression the moment the merc said her rank out loud. And she’s not a merc. That’s clear. But she sure the hell is a little more than just a pilot. Didn’t really want to let go of those keys. I would have figured out how to get the damned cuffs off, eventually. Then again, I’ll be dead pretty damned quick if I don’t get medical attention. I need her. I’d been figuring on the riskiest option, actually letting the mercs get me to a ship, and then playing for an angle. Now that it’s here, I don’t know whether to trust it. This woman is dangerous. The mercs underestimated her. I get the feeling a lot of people do that. The question is, is she a threat to me?
I don’t want to trust anyone, not ever again, but I don’t see what sort of options I have. I hand her the keys, to let her take the bit off. She moves beside me, still wary, but not afraid. Touching my shoulder with her left. Her right hand, with the keys, kept by her side, near her waist. If I make one wrong move, she’ll drop those keys, and pull that little blade out from behind her back. I’d be dead before I got to do a thing. She’d likely flush us all into space, and not batt an eye at having to do it. I get the feeling she’s done worse.
Her hand is cool on my shoulder, no shakes. Slowly moving in, as I keep as still as possible. Her hand moves from my shoulder, to the side of my face, running her fingers carefully underneath the edge of the bit. Stopping for a second, a muttered apology, as she grazes one of the cuts there, while her other hand moves up to unlock the bit.
My jaw is still pretty stiff, after the pounding it’s taken, making it hard to release it. She’s gentler with me than I would have thought likely. Her hand sliding under my jaw, to try to help me work it loose, taking it out for me, making sure to avoid hitting any of the opened cuts.
Like I could really go anywhere. Watch her as she slowly backs up, before standing, moving off, coming back with a med kit and a wet cloth. Sets up the kit on the back of the dead merc. As good a place as any, I suppose. I guess I’m still just a little taken with the ease she had with killing him, how comfortable she is, with him just lying there.
“I said not to move.”
Almost under her breath. I had tried to move my jaw. Opened up a couple of cuts there. She’s cleaning the dried blood away. The cloth is cool, and wet. I haven’t had anything to drink in a while. The wet makes my mouth water. She looks to me, before standing up again.
“I mean it. Don’t move. I’m trying to help you.”
She comes back with water, holding the bottle for me while I drink as much of it as I can, before it all comes up again. Too fast. Take it easy, she’s telling me. Easy enough to say, when it’s not you. No revulsion from her, at me throwing up. She just waits until I’m done, tells me to take it easy, and lets me drink again. Going back for more water when I finish with the bottle she’s brought me. I hate showing that I needed it so much. There’s no spark of pity in her. Just understanding. Definitely not just a pilot.
She waits until I’ve had enough, before going back to cleaning up my cuts. Cleans the puke off her pantleg without batting an eye at it. Antiseptic ointment. Stings, and goes numb. It’s a start. Try and work the jaw a little. She’s watching, to see if the cuts will open again.
“You have a name, sweetheart?”
“R…Riddick…..” My voice is still raw, almost a croak. Her head tilts to the side, her jaw drops. She gets up quickly, and walks off.
Rest my head back against the wall, close my eyes for a moment, trying to plan my next angle. When I open them again, the lights are turned down to about twenty percent or so. She’s watching me, carefully, from about five or six feet away. She still has the keys. Walking back towards me, a LOT more carefully than she did before. A flicker of fear scent, not heavy. She’s not really scared, just a hell of a lot more wary than she was before.
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
I turn to watch her, as she’s unhooking the chain at my waist. A knowing smile, a dangerous smile, flits across her face, and is gone just as fast. I get the feeling that if she thought I was going to hurt her, I’d already be dead. She unhooks the rest of my restraints, the cuffs on my wrists last, watching me the entire time. I try to stay still, not giving her a reason to cut me to ribbons. When she’s done, she rests on her heels for a second, just watching. Before reaching out her hand, shaking mine. Not used to that level of respect. Fear, yes. Respect is another matter.
“Jane Adams. Honoured to meet you.”
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