She woke lying on her side. It was dark. Jack tried to roll over but stopped when she felt straps tugging on her chest. She frowned, ran her hands over them. After a long moment, it clicked. Safety harness… She was in a cryolocker. One that had been turned on its side—the door, with its window, must have been facing a wall. She found the release on the harness and shoved it away from her. Then she tried the door, not really expecting it to work. It didn't. She took a deep breath and immediately regretted it. Shit, are these things airtight?
She had no idea if they were, or how long she'd been out—or how much air she might have left.
"I'm in here!" she yelled, then kicked the side. "Will someone get me the fuck outta here?" Her voice broke on the words. Taking another breath, she screamed. The noise seemed deafening in the small space. She pounded her fists into the sheet of metal about her. Someone would hear her. Someone would.
What if there's no one to hear? She tried to push the thought away, but she could see it—miles and miles of debris and mangled bodies, and the only thing alive a girl who looked like a boy trapped in the box from Hell.
She didn't know what to do, so she screamed again and kicked at the walls.
Thud. Jack paused. That one had come from outside. She listened hard, praying. When she didn't hear anything else, she started her banging again.
Thud. This time she felt the locker shift slightly with the force of the blow.
There was defiantly someone out there. She couldn't think of a way to communicate with them, so she calmed herself down and hoped they were trying to get her out. It seemed like she lay there for years.
There was a loud hissing noise—it sounded familiar, but she couldn't place it. She listened as it traveled around the edges of her locker—then one of the sides was yanked off and she rolled out.
She blinked and squinted in the sudden light. "So, I guess something went wrong?"
There were two women and a man standing above her. "Guess something did," the man agreed. Jack decided she liked his accent. "I'm gonna see if I can find any more survivors," he added, addressing the older of the two women.
Their accent, Jack corrected herself. He walked away and Jack sat up, studying the women. The one with the accent looked to be in her thirties, with dark, curly hair. Well, they both had dark, curly hair. But hers was real black—the younger one's was just dark brown.
"I'm Shazza," said the first, crouching down next to her. "And that was me man, Zeke."
"Jack," she replied, then looked at the other woman. There was an expectant silence.
Finally her lips twitched into a small smile. "Call me Lynn."
"So where are we?" Jack asked.
Lynn held out a hand and, when she took it, hauled her to her feet. "Let's find out." That was when they heard the cries of pain. They came running and found the captain, holding one of her officers. There was a spike through his chest. Nothing they could do.
Jack hated that feeling.
"Get out!" commanded the captain. With a shrug, Lynn obeyed, and Jack followed her. What else was there to do? Lynn didn't acknowledge her—she didn't seem to be much of a talker.
They turned a corner and Jack froze. There was a man there, in a blindfold and chains—there was even one in his mouth, locking his face in a snarl.
If 'man' was the right word. He sure as hell wasn't like any man she'd ever seen. He was like… like the panther she'd glimpsed once, locked in a cage. Feral and angry and vicious, but also graceful and strong and so damn beautiful.
Something like that shouldn't be locked up, she thought angrily. If it's a threat- and Jack was smart enough to admit that both panther and man might be threats –then just stay away from it. Ain't right, trapping all that power in a cage.
Lynn was searching through the piles of rubble surrounding him.
"What're you doing?" Jack asked, moving to her side.
"Dropped something," she replied.
Jack nodded, not really listening, then asked the question she really wanted answered. "Who's he?" she kept her voice low, so he wouldn't hear her.
"That's Riddick," Lynn told her in a normal tone. His turned his head toward them, and Jack jumped. Lynn smirked a little and continued digging.
"Why's he locked up?" Jack whispered.
Lynn's smirk spread to a mocking grin, though Jack wasn't sure which of the three were being mocked.
"Cause he got caught."
Riddick snorted softly. Cause he got caught? It was the truth, when you got right down to it, but it wasn't what most people told impressionable younglings.
"But…" the boy started quietly. Riddick could almost feel the confusion radiating off him. "But, who caught him?"
"Yeah. You know—blue eyes, red hair, big gun? Johns."
" Why?" The kid had given up on trying to keep his voice down.
Riddick waited, amused, to hear the woman's response.
"'Cause—help me with this?—cause it's his job." They both grunted, and he heard something large scrape against the floor as they dragged it.
One of them wiped off their hands, then the boy said, "So… does getting chained to poles pay well?"
Riddick laughed softly through the bit—the kid jumped again.
"No," said the woman slowly. Riddick would have bet she was having a hard time not laughing, too. "No, but chaining other people to poles can pay very well. I was still talking about Johns."
"You know gossip's rude, right?"
The boy sputtered.
Who is this chick? Riddick wondered. She was sure weird as hell.
They worked in silence for a few minutes before the kid asked sullenly, "What're we even looking for?"
"Descriptive," he muttered. "This?"
The kid tossed whatever it was he held to the floor. Riddick turned his head and just managed to glimpse it through a tear in his blindfold.
"Shit. Lynn, look at this."
"That'd be what we're looking for," the woman—Lynn—said.
"What the fuck kinda tool is that thing?"
"A useful one. C'mon, Jack."
He heard them leave. He looked at the torch again, then glanced up the pole. Broken.