Again, strong SPOILERS for "The Chronicles of Riddick". This one's also set on Crematoria, but is from the POV of the Guv. Approx. 1000 words.
He was talking with his lieutenants when the sirens started wailing.
"Go, go!" he shouted, pushing his men down a corridor then following hot on their heels.
The five-second siren was the only warning they had. Every once and a while, the bastards guarding the prison thought it was fun to send them scurrying for their lives. There was no set schedule, no way to predict when it was going to happen. Just a five-second head-start to make it somewhat sporting.
Then anybody who wanted to live dropped whatever they were doing and ran.
The Slam wasn't set up like traditional prisons. There weren't any real cells, for instance. There were tunnels, dug-outs, nooks and crannies. It was basically nothing more than a huge underground cavern that had been converted to serve a purpose. This was both good and bad, in a way. Good, because it gave the inmates a bit more freedom to roam. Bad, because there were only a few safe places to hide when the time came.
In those moments, the Slam had to be the only prison in creation where the prisoners willingly locked themselves behind bars.
The Guv was the last of his men to dash into their safe zone, and he was yanking the gate shut before his body had fully crossed the threshold. Just in time, too. Ten seconds later, 60 kilos of raging teeth were gnashing at him through the bars.
He took an involuntary step backwards, panting hard as he got up close and personal with three-inch long fangs.
Hellhounds. One of the few remaining native species of this volatile planet. The huge canines lived entirely underground, their eyes specially adapted to their surroundings. They were wild, ruthless predators. Always on the look out for fresh meat, they'd hunt and kill anything that moved. Most had been eradicated when the planet was colonized, when the Slam was built.
The guards kept a few around for entertainment.
For culling the herd.
His men had retreated to the back of the tunnel when the Hellhound lunged at the gate. From all around, the Guv could hear the screams of those too weak or too slow to get out of the way. The Hellhounds were great at keeping the Slam from suffering the over-crowding of other prisons. Population control at its finest.
Unable to get at the tasty morsel behind the bars separating them, the Hellhound soon gave up its attempts in order to seek out easier prey. The Guv watched it warily. Muscles rolling, thick reddish-grey fur spiking in all directions, the slavering beast stalked through the hastily abandoned corridors. Its eerie silvered eyes gleamed in the dark as it moved slowly from nook to cranny, sniffing for something to eat.
The Guv held his breath as the creature paused before a wall of water. Its ears perked up and its great head swung to peer through the liquid curtain. When its lips curved up over its jaws in a sinister grin, the Guv knew it had found its next meal.
He turned away. He had no interest to watch the actual kill. He'd already seen too many die like that.
He headed deeper into the protected tunnel to meet up with his men. They were calm; like him, they'd all been through this before. They knew the drill. They knew there was nothing they could do until the Hellhounds were called back by their handlers. It wouldn't be much longer. The animals were efficient predators, and the guards grew bored watching them feed when the hunt was over.
He spent a few minutes speaking with his lieutenants, finishing up the discussion that had been interrupted by the Hellhounds' release. A few of his men were worried about the newest addition to the Slam's numbers. Claimed they'd heard rumours about him. The Guv, unofficial leader of the inmates, listened to their concerns with a patient ear. But all they had were rumours, and the aside from the fight at his initiation, the new prisoner hadn't caused any trouble. The man just wanted to be left alone; the Guv wasn't about to act without provocation.
Business done for the day, the Guv gathered himself to head back to the entrance. The Hellhounds had been out long enough by now. The guards would be calling them back at any minute. Good. He needed to get back to his quarters to ponder what to do about his new problem. His lieutenants had given him something to think about, he---
His 'new problem' was sitting in the dirt before the gate, calmly petting one of the vicious man-eating Hellhounds.
And the Hellhound was curled around his legs, tail wagging, and whining happily as it was scratched behind the ears.
He hadn't realised he'd spoken until Riddick turned to look at him. His breath stuck in his lungs when he met that luminous gaze. A shine job. He'd heard about them, of course. A very expensive, very dangerous surgical procedure to replace the human retina with a bioengineered reflective surface that processed light more efficiently. Like a cat -- or one of the Hellhound's, he thought to himself uneasily -- the new retina gave him the ability to see in the dark. A useful talent, certainly, except for the fact that very few people survived the procedure itself.
He was still staring when the whistle blew and the Hellhound dragged itself to its feet, pausing only momentarily to cast a regretful look at its new friend before it ran off.
Riddick finally broke the gaze, reaching up to grab his goggles and cover his distinctive eyes. His smile was predatory and oddly kind all at once.
"It's an animal thing," he said, and walked away.
The Guv didn't move for long minutes more. He couldn't help wondering what the explanation was for... his way with the Hellhound? Or his way with survival?
He had a feeling the answer was both.