stefanie_bean: (lost people)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 3: March to the Sea
Characters: Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, Jack Shephard, Kate Austin, James "Sawyer" Ford, Michael Dawson, Bea Klugh, assorted Others
Rating: T
Length: 2200 words
Status: Complete
Notes: Set between Season 2 and 3

Summary: The quest to find Walt has failed. As Hugo makes his lonely way back to the beach camp, he discovers that the Island is stranger than he ever imagined.


Chapter Three: March to the Sea

The dark, lean woman with the stern face helped Hugo to his feet. Man, she's strong, he thought as he gripped her arm. For a second he thought of bolting, but she was almost as tall as he was, with long sprinter's legs. Anyway, he sucked at running. Besides, strong men had hoisted Jack, Kate, and Sawyer limp as flour sacks onto their shoulders. The men stood at attention, bending a bit under their burdens, waiting for the tiniest signal from the stern woman. Michael stood useless and marooned at the edge of the throng, away from everyone. Once he glanced over at Hugo but then turned away quickly, unable to meet Hugo's eyes.

All of the weird things Hugo had seen had vanished from the valley. The voices stopped. The sky returned to its previous pearly grey-white. Birds still circled above, their beating emerald wings dark against a backdrop of pale streaky clouds, now bearing ordinary bird heads and beaks. Then the bird-flock veered off in one green mass over to the shadowy side of the mountain, taking the strong, uncanny sense with them, leaving the narrow valley washed-out and pale in the overcast light.

Hugo wavered a bit, about to swoon. "Here," the woman said, handing him an old, round canteen with a screw-on lid. "Drink this." Behind her, one of the men shifted his burden. Sawyer, it looked like, from the jeans and shirt, his unconscious features covered by a black burlap bag. The man of the Others said in an irritated tone, "Hey, Bea, are we gettin' going or what? This guy weighs a ton."

Bea turned, and though Hugo couldn't see her face, the ice in her voice cooled even the jungle heat itself. "We'll get going when I say we get going.” She then turned back to Hugo, motioning for him to drink.

The canteen felt about half-full, so Hugo took only a few sips. "Drink up," Bea said. "Much as you want. We got a long walk, and I don't want you passing out on me."

So he raised the canteen and drank deeply, took some breaths, and drank again. That should have emptied the canteen, but the water kept coming cold and sweet, sharp and clear, the best he'd ever had on the Island so far. She encouraged him with her eyes until he couldn't drink any more. Weird how those round canteens could fool you. They held more than you thought.

The group started to move. Bea led, keeping a firm hold on Hugo's arm all the while. When he fell behind, the Others parted around him, streaming to one side or the other like a school of fish dividing around a mid-stream rock. Bea steered him onto the easier pathways with the lightest touch. A few times he tried to talk to her, but she said nothing, just gave him a faint shake of the head, No.

The path grew steeper, the surrounding landscape more stony. High winds blew away the low clouds, so that the sun beat down upon them all in its hot skyward rise. When Hugo started to sway again, Bea made him drink more of the crisp-clear water, but it didn't help. The green spots danced before his eyes and he began to stumble, so she gripped his upper arm with a pinch so hard that her fingers sank into the soft flesh.

"Ow!" Hugo said. That was going to turn black and blue, for sure. Some of the Others looked back, and a few of them snickered.

"Keep going," Bea said in a low voice that was almost a growl. "If you stop, I can't protect you."

"Man, I'm about to collapse."

"No, you're not," she said more gently. Then she called out in a voice loud enough for the rest of the Others to hear, "If you don't pick it up, Hugo, we're gonna taze you, and you won't like it. Then four of my boys are gonna have to carry you over the rocks, and they probably won't be gentle." But the expression in her eyes said, Come on, you can do it. Just do it.

So Hugo struggled up the last leg of that rocky hillside, sweating under a blazing afternoon sun which had burned away the earlier overcast. It felt so much hotter up here, with no bushes or trees. Then as they climbed up over the final crest, he almost forgot his exhaustion. Right before them loomed a great pile of rock whose two huge upright stones were topped by a flat one laid across them both, forming an archway through which even a man ten feet tall could pass. Through its opening shone the wide blue sea.

"Dude, it's like Stonehenge," Hugo said under his breath. Bea turned around when she heard him, but said nothing.

The men carrying Kate, Jack, and Sawyer skirted around the stone portal as if they wanted to avoid it, then carefully edged down a steep, pebble-strewn path which led to the rocky shore. Up ahead, splayed across her captor's shoulders, Kate started to stir and moan.

"Hurry up," Bea said to the men. "We've still got to get over to the dock and get them into position."

The men picked up the pace, almost skidding on the gravely path. "We go too fast, we're goin' down on our asses," one Other grumbled as he staggered under Jack's weight. The man next to him, a burly muscular fellow almost as wide as Hugo, carried nothing except his rifle. He gave a rude laugh.

"I got an idea," the muscular man said. "Send Mikey down first. If he hits the skids, we know not to go that way."

That provoked another round of coarse laughter. A few of the men shoved Michael into the lead. "Yeah, Mikey," someone else called out. "The faster you go, the sooner you get your boy," and the man stretched out the last word into one long mocking syllable.

Bea and Hugo brought up the rear, which gave Hugo a little time to look over the small village of yurts spread out beneath the rocky hill, all in the shadow of the stone portal. A pair of Others with rifles stood posed at tense attention in front of a rusted metal door embedded in the hillside. As Hugo passed, he thought he saw the Dharma Initiative logo on the battered, sun-faded door, but he couldn't be sure.

The men with rifles guarding the door shifted nervously, as if they expected something to happen at any minute. Suddenly, a few loud metallic clanks rang out from behind the door. One of the guards jumped as if he'd heard a ghost, and brought his rifle up at once, taking aim at the door itself. But it didn't open, and Bea pushed Hugo along from behind, hurrying him along.

At the base of the hill, about twenty or so Others busily worked around the yurt camp. Most of them were women who wore the same hardened, shaggy look as the men, as well as the same shabby brown and olive clothes. A few of the older men repaired fish nets very similar to Jin's. One younger woman strung fish on a line to dry, piercing each one through the eyes with a thick needle, like stringing beads for a necklace. A few Others came out of the yurts to stare at Bea's group. Then slowly, one by one, most of them laid down their knives or nets or needles and joined the throng without even being told.

The Others reserved their hardest and most piercing stares for Hugo. He passed his hands self-consciously over his body, but soon it became clear that wasn't it. They barely looked at Jack or Sawyer or Kate, and Michael they seemed to deliberately avoid, skirting around him as if they didn't even want to share the same path. Their unkempt hair blew in their faces, and from beneath it their eyes shone out sharp and bright. Hugo stared back at one woman with eyes so blue they seemed to be made of the sea itself. An older man dark as Bea, gnarled and hard as driftwood, looked Hugo up and down as if seeing right through him. Then Hugo knew that whatever Michael had said about these people being “stupid hillbillies who ate dried fish,” it was lies, all lies.

The Others weren't set apart by their rifles, or their obviously factory-made yurts, nor even their sharp, intelligent glances. What made them different was that they seemed to be made of the same stuff as the earth itself, as tough and strong as the stones beneath their bare feet, the stones over which they moved without apparent effort or pain. Jack had told everyone what Tom Friendly had said, “This is our Island, and we just let you live on it.” Now, seeing the Others in the bright sunlight, watching them move as if they were extensions of the earth and sea themselves, it wasn't hard to believe.

What could any of them back at their own beach-camp stronghold do against these people? Suddenly Hugo felt very tired, and the yurt village was already behind them. “So, this isn't where we're going?”

“I thought I told you not to talk, Hugo,” she said, but raised her head and with her eyes signaled, Look out there. Look ahead.

“Oh, great,” Hugo muttered. The group headed towards a narrow sea-coast path strung along the high cliff-side. To their right loomed the high red-brown ridge, and to their left the coastline fell off sharply to a rocky sea-shore with no beach at all. Loose, crumbly rocks covered the path itself, so that even the nimble Others slipped more than once under the unconscious weight of their captives. The higher they climbed, the narrower the path became. Bea had let go of Hugo's arm by now, because there was no room for them to walk side-by-side. Instead, she placed her hands firmly on either side of his waist to guide and stabilize him.

“Keep your eyes on the back of the man in front of you,” she said to Hugo. “Don't look up or down.”

The crash of the sea against the jagged shoreline below sounded very loud, and the rocks below looked razor-sharp. Then, mercifully, the path widened, and before Hugo knew it, they walked once more on sand, not loose pebbles. They crossed a small beach inlet surrounded by trees, and never before had ground felt so good beneath Hugo's feet.

Up ahead, built out over the still inlet waters of a quiet bay, stretched a long wooden pier.

Bea gestured to Hugo, Go on. It was like walking the plank in a pirate movie. The Others stopped at the far end of the dock, near a faded sign which read “Pala Ferry.” Without ceremony, Bea's men dumped their half-conscious burdens. Jack and Sawyer were beginning to move around now, and Kate moaned again.

"I'm sorry," Bea said quietly to Hugo as she turned him around with a gesture that looked rougher than it felt. "I have to do this. Don't fight me."

Hugo nodded, OK. Bea tied his hands behind his back, and then gently brushed the hair from his face before tying a gag across his mouth and around the back of his head.

Bea signaled the big man with the rifle to begin. One by one, the Others pulled the bags off their prisoners' heads. In no time at all they were bound as they lay on the dock. Sawyer pulled himself into a half-sitting position, still weak and mostly helpless. He looked around with wild glances until he spied Kate, who lay unmoving with open eyes.

Then the men of the Others yanked the three of them to their unsteady feet, shoved guns into their backs, and marched them down the long pier. Bea released Hugo to one of the men, who forced him in line with the other three prisoners, and he felt a stab of fear as he passed out of Bea's hands. It only grew worse when the four of them were forced down to their knees with guns held to the backs of their heads, execution-style. Hugo's own fear was reflected in everyone else's eyes, in the tears streaming from Kate's, in the hate blazing in Sawyer's. Jack just looked down at the dock, so Hugo couldn't see his expression at all.

With his hands forced up high behind his back, pushed to his knees, Hugo couldn't catch his breath. His heart slammed against his ribs like a bass drum. It would be just his luck to die of a heart attack right then and there, before the Others ever got around to shooting him. He barely noticed the small boat which pulled up to the quay, hardly reacted when their former prisoner Henry Gale got out and walked towards them. Henry stared at Hugo for a few seconds, as if he was surprised to see him there, and gave Bea a questioning glance. She turned away and ignored him.

Then the sky erupted.

(continued)


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