The Slow Burn, Chapter 3

Title: The Slow Burn
Chapter: 3 of ?
Fandom: Pitch Black
Synopsis: This is a reworked version of chapter 3 of The Slow Burn, which was my first attempt at fan fiction. It was semi-successful, but I stopped writing it after I found my real calling with Apprentice. Now I’m revisiting it. The story adds an original character to the group of survivors, and this time around I’m trying to strip away any and all Mary Sue qualities she possessed. In this heavily reworked chapter, Riddick makes his way back to the crash ship after having fruitlessly explored the nearby area, still operating under the assumption that this planet has normal days and nights.

3.
Riddick: Watcher in the Hills

Recon didn’t take long at all. Accustomed as he was to hiding in plain sight and negotiating unfriendly terrain, the crash site posed no real challenges to him. Riddick wasn’t sure if his findings left him impressed with the pilot’s skill or amazed she’d managed to land the craft at all.

The ship had skidded for more than a mile during its crash-landing, leaving a deep groove in the desert as it had torn itself to pieces. Cryo pods had gone flying and were scattered along the back trail. He’d popped the locks on a few, unsure whether their inhabitants still lived but figuring he’d give them as much of a chance as possible. One container, however, disturbed him. It had been wrenched open and was empty, with a small spatter of blood nearby… and what looked like claw marks, or the marks of fingers desperately digging into the soil and being dragged, leading to a small hole in the ground. There was more blood on the hole’s rocky edges, but no sign of the cryo pod’s inhabitant.

He had listened by the hole for several minutes but hadn’t heard anything else, except possibly wind whistling through the nearby rocks.

In the far distance, toward the end of the ship’s skid marks, he could see the wreckage of yet another cargo container. There was no point in even trying to hike the distance to see what was inside it, though; it was burning with dangerous intensity. Useless.

Okay, he told himself as he doubled back. That leaves the resources on board the ship itself, and the cargo container the other survivors are already plundering. Plus whatever exists in nature here.

The heat was powerful, but not the kind of oppressive heat that came with humidity. This was dry, thin air, thin enough that he had felt a little light-headed until he got used to it. He bet it would get every bit as cold when night fell.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d done a night raid to get something warm to wear. His first order of business would be to take Johns out, but the man’s jacket would be way too small for him. Maybe one of the others would have something larger and feel inclined to share. Assuming that the cargo container with everybody’s clothes wasn’t the one burning merrily in the distance, of course.

Next order of business: he told himself, find out what everybody’s up to and how they’re planning on circling the wagons. Johns would be filling their heads with horror stories about him, of course. One or two might even be true.

The crazy girl and another kid had been put to work, he saw. The two were slowly making their way from the cargo container to the main crash ship, a large crate with Emergency Ration labels emblazoned on its sides awkwardly carried between them. In the intense heat, the girl had stripped down to a small halter top and shorts, and he took a moment to just enjoy the show. Weirdly enough, though, the boy still had several layers of clothing on and seemed loathe to shed them, even though he was clearly suffering in the heat.

That’s gotta be damned uncomfortable, he thought, and frowned. More than that, it was dangerous. Tryin’ to give yourself heat stroke, kid? You need to at least take off that vest.

Long sleeves, vest, hat, trousers… the kid was going to be comfortable enough come nightfall, but working in those clothes now put him at serious risk. Was he that self-conscious around the girl? Riddick had vague memories of feeling intimidated by that kind of beauty when he was the boy’s age—

Was I ever that young? Really?

But still, this was dangerous. Very dangerous.

He stole closer, feeling an irrational urge to protect the kids.

This is how Billy catches you, asshole, he reminded himself. And yet he crept closer still.

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Bie

Seeeeeeee why I always try conning, ahem, convincing ya to do my words for me?

I could so see/hear R seeing and thinking so clear. And allow me to take a moment of silence for the not-so-lucky peep in cryo-chamber one hundred and twenty seven.

Elaine Carter

I do love your Riddick’s voice. Dangerous, powerful, ruthless, and then surprisingly protective when it comes to people he decides aren’t enemies.