Title: The Slow Burn
Chapter: 4 of ?
Fandom: Pitch Black
Synopsis: This is a reworked version of chapter 4 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, Fiona deals with the fallout of a shooting, and spies someone spying on her and the others.
Fiona: Eye To Eye With the Devil
“Seriously, Fiona, I’m fine.”
“You’re not, Jack. Your face is turning red.” It was a little hard to tell in the light of the newly-risen third sun — everything looked bluish — but Fiona was positive that the heat and exertion were overwhelming the younger girl.
“So are your shoulders.”
Well, damn, they did feel itchy. Of course she was getting sunburnt. “Then let’s both get out of the sun. I’m sure Shazza will understand when she sees us.”
Shazza, who had put the now-notorious cutting torch to work at opening doors in the cargo container, immediately conscripted the two of them to help her in its shade. Fiona begged off for a few minutes so she could hunt up the sunblock and aloe she knew was in her family’s already-open unit, because the itch was starting to turn into a genuine sting. That was how she missed the start of the excitement.
She was still in the process of slathering lotion on her shoulders and back when she heard Jack shout “No!”
Had Mr. Riddick returned? She set the lotions aside, glancing around the compartment for the pry-bar Shazza had given her just moments earlier. Her own survival still didn’t hold much allure for her, but if Jack was in trouble—
A man’s voice, one she didn’t recognize, high with stress and definitely not Riddick’s, began to speak. His words were muffled by the compartment wall, but before she could begin to piece together what he was saying, shots rang out.
Fiona ran back into the main corridor, her pry-bar uselessly raised in one hand, in time to see a strange man crumple to the ground in front of Shazza, Jack, and Paris. Shazza, she realized, was liberally splashed with the man’s blood. Zeke stood a short distance from the cargo container’s opening, lowering a gun.
“It was just somebody else,” Jack was yelling at Zeke. “Somebody else from the crash!”
Fiona barely heard Zeke’s answer, arrested by the sight of the man on the ground. For one horrible moment, she’d thought it was her father. The build was similar, but after a closer look her heart stopped lurching and calmed. It wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t. Her father had died hours ago. A pang of grief skewered her as she realized that she’d gotten through the last several hours by pretending her family was still alive and just off in some other part of the crash site. Whoever this poor man had been, he was a stranger to her. Much of his body was covered in second and third-degree burns, she noticed, wondering if he would have actually survived much longer if Zeke hadn’t shot him.
She stood up and moved away from the body, which still had the full attention of the others, and found herself transfixed.
Someone was sitting on top of the crash ship, in Paris’s chair.
Someone she recognized.
Her breath caught and held. Beside her, she could hear the others still fussing over what Zeke had done, unaware. As she watched, Riddick raised one of Paris’s wine bottles in their direction in a mocking toast before taking a long swallow. She could feel his eyes on them, on her. She almost thought she could make out a smirk on his face and wished her distance vision was better.
Hide, she thought urgently, the nauseating copper tang of blood catching in her nose and throat. They’ll kill you if they see you. Hide!
There was no way he could hear her unspoken thoughts, but almost as if in answer, Riddick stood, stretched once, and dropped lightly to the desert floor. Bottle still in hand, he vanished behind the ship.
The breath that had been lodged in her throat escaped at last.
“Well, now you have one more grave to dig, Zeke,” Shazza groused. “Let’s hope it’s the last. Faugh, I need to get this blood off me.”
“Hey Fiona, you have anything she can use to clean up with?” Jack asked, drawing her eyes away from the ship.
She nodded, hoping her voice would be steady when she spoke and then realizing they wouldn’t care if it wasn’t. “Let me go grab it.”
Her voice, she realized, was entirely too steady. She knew she should be shocked. She should be horrified at how casually death had been meted out to a total stranger, a harmless stranger. She should feel something, but the closest she was able to come was her concern for Jack… and, surprisingly, for Riddick. As she dug a bottle of astringent out of her locker, she wondered how long she would stay numb.
And worse, what would happen once the numbness receded.